“Franny is listening to a program on wolves. I say to her, Would you like to be a wolf? She answers haughtily, How stupid, you can’t be one wolf, you’re always eight or nine, six or seven.”
-Deleuze & Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (1980)
1. After an absence of 70 years, the wolf is back.
2. Maybe hunters will exterminate one pack, but others will take its place. Wolves are very flexible and resilient.
3. Spain is now a wolf stronghold.
4. As wolf numbers grow so does the number of attacks.
5. Conservationists are surprised at how fast wolves have returned during recent years, populating areas where they were last seen more than 100 years ago.
6. Wolf populations in Europe quadrupled between 1970 and 2005 and there may now be 25,000 animals, says the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They have been seen within a few miles of major cities including Berlin, Rome and Athens.
7. Wolves have arrived in the Pyrenees from Italy and the Alps. “They have crossed 450km and a lot of roads to get there. So far they are not breeding there, but it’s only a matter of time.”
8. They are also reportedly expanding their range in France, Germany, Poland, Scandinavia and Italy, with sightings in Belgium and Denmark.
9. The wolf has been able to reclaim territory.
10. Wolves traditionally flourish in times of political and economic crisis.
11. Their return to Europe in the past 20 years is thought to be linked to widespread rural depopulation.
12. The demise of the USSR saw a near 50% increase in the number of wolves in the 1990s, as animals that had been kept under control by state-sponsored culling were left to roam unchecked and many packs crossed into sparsely populated areas of Poland, Germany and Scandinavia.
13. Some conservationists say the economic recession in Spain, Portugal, Greece and elsewhere has also helped them spread into new areas.
14. People have migrated from rural areas, allowing the wolf to reoccupy abandoned land.
15. Wolves are returning to many of their old haunts in Europe and also wandering into long-forgotten territory. There are breeding pairs now in Germany, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Croatia, Alpine Italy, the Apennines and Alpine France.
16. They remind older people of hard times – a sign that civilisation is slipping backwards perhaps.
17. We have to understand that ideas about the wolf are changing. In the past they were a serious problem, but now people are sympathetic. It’s not the devil; it’s just an animal. We must learn to live together.