The Spanish wolf, Canis lupus signatus, also known as the Iberian wolf, is a carnivorous mammal from the Canidae family which can weigh up to 45 kg. It mainly lives in the forests, mountains and steppes of northern Spain and feeds on small vertebrates.
In 1937, the very last wolf in France from a population which used to number thousands was killed. In 1992, its natural return was announced in the Southern Alps.
Nowadays it is recolonising the Massif Central, the Pyrenees and the Jura Mountain, encouraged by new laws, the reintroduction of some of its prey, the abandonment of farmland and reforestation.
The wolves live in a pack: a dominant "alpha" breeding pair, accompanied by the year’s wolf cubs and young wolves from previous litters. It is a clan where strength lies in unity for hunting and rearing the young.
The wolves can certainly make themselves heard when they howl and bark, but above all it is their facial expression and body posture which allows them to understand each other within their pack without making a sound. To limit physical aggression, many signals act as a warning before the wolf actually decides to attack.
In folk tales and legends, the wolf is always the villain! Yet in spite of its bad reputation, it only attacks humans on extremely rare occasions. Its diet consists mostly of small vertebrates.