Project progress

ACTION A2 - Ex-ante detailed Survey about the wolf presence in the Portuguese project areas

The aim of this action, which began in December 2012, is that of acquiring elements about the wolf presence in the project area and of creating a genetic database of local wolves (genetic analysis for the determination of genotypes). The monitoring activities have been held by Grupo Lobo and ended in December 2013. The genetic analysis, presently in progress, is  carried out under the responsibility of the analysis laboratory Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e Veterinária.

Within the action A2, 46 interviews have been carried out to owners of zoo-technical farms who experienced wolf's attacks. 18 farms, damaged by wolves, have been inspected and 486 paths have been created for the excrements' collection, 6 of which were realized with the aid of a dog specifically trained for searching signals of wolf's presence (detection dogs; see also action A7). In the end, infra-red traps have been placed in order to learn more information about the species' presence in the studied area. Excrements' (n. 78) and saliva (n. 137) samples have been collected along the trails and were sent to the laboratory for the genetic analysis.

In the period between August and September 2013 the activity of Wolf Howling has been conducted, a technique which allows to obtain information about the presence of wolves' herds in a specific area taking advantage of the natural inclination of the species to answer to an acoustic stimulation of recorded howling.

From March to October 2014 Grupo Lobo carried out several activities: in March 9 surveys with detection dogs, 3 surveys in farms which were damaged by wolves, 311 nights using infra-red traps, 13 paths for the excrements' collection and10 interviews to farmers were carried out.  In addition to that, the members have collected 44 samples composed of: 10 excrements, 32 swabs and 2 fur samples. In April  Grupo Lobo carried out 11 surveys with detection dogs, 262 nights using infra-red traps, 18 paths for the excrements' collection and 4 interviews to farmers. 51 samples have been collected, among which: 18 excrements, 32 swabs and 1 fur sample. In May 2014 the survey about wolf’s presence went on, therefore 7 interviews to farmers have been carried out along with 316 nights using infra-red traps and 8 paths for the excrements' collection have been realized. In addition to that, 18 samples have been collected (8 excrements and 10 swabs). In June 359 nights using infra-red traps have been carried out,  as well as 14 paths for the excrements' collection and 8 interviews to farmers. In addition to that, 4 surveys in farms which were damaged by wolves have been carried out. 25 excrements and 24 swabs for a total of 49 samples have been collected. In July, 329 nights using infra-red traps have been carried out and so were 17 paths for the excrements' collection and 10 interviews to farmers. 8 surveys in farms which were damaged by wolves have been carried out and 58 samples (11 excrements, 46 swabs and 1 fur sample) have been collected. In August 309 nights using infra-red traps have been carried out, 5 paths for the excrements' collection and 2 interviews to farmers. 6 surveys in farms which were damaged by wolves have been carried out and 43 samples (19 excrements and 24 swabs) have been collected. In September 387 nights using infra-red traps have been carried out and so were 21 paths for the excrements' collection, 3 interviews to farmers and one session of wolf howling. Moreover 8 samples of excrements were collected. In October 183 nights using infra-red traps  have been carried out and so were 15 paths for the excrements' collection, 7 interviews to farmers, 1 survey in a farm which was damaged by wolves and 20 samples (11 excrements) have been collected.

During these months the Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e Veterinária went on with genetic analysis of swabs, which was completed in February.

In November, December and January Grupo Lobo begun the data analysis and the report drafting which was completed in March. 

ACTION A3 - Ex-ante Survey about damages in the Portuguese project areas

Action A3, which aims to acquire information about the conflict between the wolf's presence and the zoo technical activities in Portugal, was carried out under the coordination of ESACB (Escola Superior Agrária de Castelo Branco) and involved the staff of Grupo Lobo as well.

In the first phase of the action, the elements about the previous damages have been acquired  by ICNF (Instituto de Conservacao de Naturaleza e das Florestas). After that, a questionnaire has been submitted to 50 zoo-technical farms damaged by wolves. The questionnaire was used to better understand domestic cattle management, therefore the results will become an important element to program the consignment of damages prevention systems, which will be realized within the actions C1 e C3. The analysis of collected facts is now being processed and will be available in January 2014 on the project's web site. In march 2014 the report of collected data has been concluded and its final version was published after a revision in April.

Final Report Action A3

application/pdf Final Report Action A3.pdf (3.8 MiB)
ACTION A4 – Ex-ante Survey about damages in the Italian project areas

Carried out between January 2013 and January 2014, the action had the fundamental aim of describing the extent and magnitude of the conflict between animal husbandry and wolf, as well as planning the entrust of prevention measures to farmers as established by Actions C2 and C4.
This was realized through:
- an analysis of the damages caused by canids in Grosseto Province for the period 2007-2012, based on the data made available by Co.di.Pra Toscana and, as regards to the year 2012, also taking into account the reports that the ASL communicated to the Province
- an investigation carried out through interviews directed to local farmers in order to understand how to handle domestic livestock with particular reference to the use of damage prevention systems. For this purpose, a special questionnaire was prepared and shared, which was submitted to 150 local breeders.
This action was carried out by Istituto di Ecologia Applicata, the Province of Grosseto, C.I.A, Coldiretti and Confagricoltura.

ACTION A5 – Evaluation of the potential expansion areas in Portugal

The aim of action A5, coordinated and accomplished by Grupo Lobo, was that of producing a model for the environmental wolf's suitability in the study areas of Portugal. During the first phase of the action, some information about the wolf's presence have been acquired along with the cartographic data about the principal environmental variables as, the soil use, the vegetative covering, altimetry and localization of zoo-technical farms, and of residential areas. We then got on to the real examination phase, which has produced a preliminary model, which will be implemented and integrated with all the other information acquired during the project.

This model represents an important instrument to identify the areas of species' future expansion on the territory and therefore the areas of potential conflict with the local economic activities.

In May 2015 the partner Grupo Lobo updated the GIS model with the data gathered with the action A2 (2014) and new maps were produced.

ACTION A6 – Evaluation of the potential expansion areas between Apennines and coastal plain in the province of Grosseto

The aim of action A6, coordinated and accomplished by IEA, was that of producing a model for the environmental wolf's suitability in the study areas in the Province of Grosseto.

During the first phase of the action, some information about the wolf's presence were acquired, as well as the cartographic data about the main environmental variables (soil use, vegetative covering, altimetry and localization of zoo-technical farms, residential areas). We then got on to the real examination phase, which produced, until now, a preliminary model, which will be implemented and integrated with all the other information acquired during the project.

This model represents an important instrument to identify the areas of species' future expansion on the territory and therefore the areas of potential conflict with the local economic activities.

The activity report associated to that model, which also explains its use and practical management potentiality, was drafted and published on the project web site.

The action was completed and a new suitability map for wolves was created using the most recent data on the presence of this species in the area of study.

ACTION A7 - Guards’ training for the research of wolf’s presence signs and illegal hunting activities in Portugal

The action, coordinated by Grupo Lobo, had as purpose the training of staff, already involved at different levels in the wolf’s management (technicians and office personnel of Public Administration), on the detection of marks  connected to the presence of species and on the activities to fight poaching.

Within the action A7, two different training sessions have been realized. The first one, which occurred in Sabugal on the 12 June, dealt with the aspects connected to the monitoring of wolf’s presence (field survey and genetic techniques) and the anti poaching activities, conducted by the Staff of LIFE ANTIDOTO project which is present in Spain and in Italy and contrasts the use of venom replacing it with the support of specifically trained dog units.

The training course consisted in a theoretical part and in a practical demonstration on the use of the detection dog in the survey on the signs of wolf’s. The help of this dogs, specifically trained to find wolf’s excrements and traces, is particularly useful for low density species, as the wolf itself, the research of indirect signs attesting presence of which, needs a considerable investment of time and energy. Therefore, the aid of a specifically trained dog allows to increase the quantity of collected data, without strengthening the sampling activity. The practical exercise has been held by an American trainer involved within the action A7 to train the dog Zeus which, after that, began to work in action A2.

The second meeting took place on 13th and 14th November in Bragança/Rio de Onor, in Montesinho natural Park, in the north-east area of Portugal, and was followed by 16 guards and technicians coming from 4 parks and protected areas and by 3 SEPNA-GNR (Serviço de Proteção da Natureza e do Ambiente - Guardia Nacional Republicana) agents.

This course dealt with the survey techniques for wolf’s monitoring and also included a theoretical lesson and a practical exercise on the research of wolf’s excrements and traces. During the practical exercise,  a demonstration on the use of the main techniques used for wolf’s control took place, involving several techniques such as wolf howling, photo-traps and detection dogs. The program of the second training course is available on project website.

In March 2014, the course trainer for the exposition of the consequences of illegal use of poisoning has been chosen.

In April, Grupo Lobo organized the second part of training course (Sabugal 30/4) followed by 30 SEPNA and ICNF (Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas) agents.

ACTION A8 - Guards’ training for the research of wolf’s presence signs and illegal hunting activities in Italy.

The action, co-ordinated by Grosseto Province, had the purpose of forming the staff of the State Forestry Corps, Provincial Police and Municipal Police on techniques for monitoring the presence of wolf, and on the use of antivenin dog units to contrast poaching. For this purpose, two separate training sessions were carried out. The first training course on monitoring the presence of wolf foresaw a theoretical section and a practical part at Maremma Regional Park, during which a demonstration was carried out on the application of survey techniques. The second training session was conducted by LIFE ANTIDOTO project staff: the session was divided into a theoretical part and a practical part, where a demonstration of the use of dogs in poison research took place. The action was a prerequisite for the establishment of antivenim dog units (Action C6) that operate in the provincial territory.

ACTION A9 - Staff training about damage evaluation and trust building in Portugal

 Action A9, coordinated by Grupo Lobo, includes the realization of a training course addressed to veterinaries aiming to the determination of the facts (genetic and necroscopic) that allow identify the predator responsible in case of killed cattle.

The correct damage verification is a fundamental requirement to understand, estimate and evaluate the real wolf’s impact in the local zoo-technical activities.

On the 12th  March in Vila Real the training course took place, and was composed by a theoretical part and a practical exercise, which involved 39 watchmen and technicians of protected areas, a member of ALDEIA and 6 veterinaries.

In April Grupo Lobo organized a training course on conflict management which was held by Dr. Cláudio Pina Fernandes of the Psycho-pedagogic Office of FCUL (Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa) (Sabugal, 16/4). The course has been followed by 12 watchmen of 5 different protected areas.

ACTION A10 - Staff training about damage evaluation and trust building in Italy

The action, co-ordinated by Grosseto Province, had the aim of forming staff at local level - particularly veterinary staff - that can be used to detect damage caused by canids to livestock.
The special training course was divided into two days during which various aspects of livestock predation by large carnivores were studied, also through necroscopic analysis of carcasses (carcasses diagnostics, problems in the identification of the predator, cases of fraud), both in terms of social and legal context in which the damage occurs (assessment of local legislation on compensation, assessment of the state of protection of livestock, evaluation of the attitude of the breeders towards the predator).

Below are the links to the presentations used during the course:

Angelucci 1:

Angelucci 2:


Willy Reggioni:

Between 2014 and 2015, the veterinarians selected by the project carried out a total of 140 inspections in companies that suffered damage from predators.

ACTION A11 - Ex-ante survey about the knowledge level and resulting approach to wolf’s presence in Portugal

Action A11, coordinated by Grupo Lobo, concerns an ex ante survey about the data we have on the presence of wolves and on the perception of carnivorous, by local population and by other groups of interest.

This information is fundamental to adequately arrange the project media campaign. The action began in January 2013 and submitted to local population, school children and other groups of interest a multiple-choice questionnaire. Overall a total of 359 interviews were carried out: 150 were addressed to a generic public, 20 to journalists, 52 to hunters, 75 to police men and 62 to farmers. The information collected thanks to the interviews have been analyzed; the activity report is presently being drafted and will be published on the project web site at the beginning of 2014.

Final Report Action A11

application/pdf Final Report Action A11.pdf (1.5 MiB)
ACTION A12 - Ex-ante survey about the knowledge level and resulting approach to wolf’s presence in Italy

The action foresaw the realization of focus groups with the breeders instead of the interviews initially envisaged. These meetings were an opportunity to compare different points of view: breeders, in particular, were put in the condition of feeling as a part of a shared path to arrive to the formulation of concrete proposals that were later submitted to Grosseto Province.
The territory was subdivided into districts (4 total areas), where the breeders were summoned through the important mediation of the stakeholders associations.
The action was divided into two distinct phases: a first phase devoted to listening to the problems of the breeders deriving from the presence of the predators and a second phase in which the proposals of the breeders emerged in the first round of meetings were discussed with technical and political staff of the Province. The second round of meetings was attended by the Councilor for Agriculture of Grosseto Province and by the Head of the Rural Development Service, Dr. Duccio Berzi, who cooperates with Grosseto Province since long time in the implementation of tools for the prevention of damages to livestock.
The action was an opportunity to consider different points of view and to engage in a direct confrontation both the agricultural world and the provincial administration.
Following the focus groups, a final meeting was organized with the participation of all the partners of the project, with the aim of targeting future actions, especially those of communication, based on the analysis of the results obtained from the two rounds of meetings with the breeders.
Download A12 documentation below.

Final Report Action A12

application/pdf Final Report Action A12.pdf (1.8 MiB)
ACTION C1 - Selection of beneficiaries and consignment of watch dogs in Portugal

The selection of the livestock breeders beneficiaries of LGDs was based on data gathered in action A3, and after having established the selection criteria (e.g. considering the level of damage, the existence of surplus killing events, the interest to receive a dog, the livestock species and flock/herd size and the husbandry system used).

Thirty one pups (up to 20 were originally foreseen), of 14 different lineages of the Estrela Mountain Dog breed were integrated in 16 holdings: 9 sheep and/or goat flocks (80-600 head, average238), 6 herds of cows (30-100 head, average 77) and 1 of donkeys (8 head). In 7 holdings two or more pups were placed, while the other holdings received only one pup. The first pup was delivered on the 7th of February 2014 and the last one on the 21st of August 2017.

Nine dogs died or disappeared  within 3 to 30 months of age, and 1 male was taken from its herd due to suspicions of having attacked sheep  and transferred to a different function (guarding dog).

A monthly monitoring of the pup'  behaviour, physical development, sanitary status and rearing conditions was undertaken by the project staff.  The project provided veterinary care for the first year of dog life and food for the first 2 years.

ACTION C2 - Selection of beneficiaries and consignment of watch dogs in Italy

The selection of beneficiaries was based on the results of Action A4. In order to ensure the effectiveness and the transparency of the selection, a public announcement for expression of interest was published by Province of Grosseto on 7/10/2013. The 201 instances received were ranked according to the following different criteria (level of damages suffered, location of the farm, and number of heads and species raised).

In the frame of this action 72  LGDs where delivered to farms in the project and in surrounding areas. Excluding the LGD’s delivered outside the Province and the ones who died, at the end of the project 46 properly working LGDs in 28 holdings were present in the Province of Grosseto.

The first 8 dogs in Province of Grosseto were delivered the 18th of July 2014, the last ones on the 15/10/2017. All the dogs delivered were around two months of age.

Pups were regularly monitored to follow their integration in to the flock and to assist the farmers in case of problems related to the behaviour of the dogs.

For the first time in Italy LGD’s were also monitored using GPS collars.

In the frame of this action an association of farmers called DifesAttiva was created the 15th of September 2015, and was legally registered on 31/01/2017. Its statute explicitly shows the mandate to promote the correct utilization and management of prevention measures, mainly LGDs . A web site ( and a facebook page of the association were created. DifesAttiva provides adequate training to farmers on the correct education of LGDs and provides support to LGDs owners to manage new litters, including contact with other farmers wanting LGDs. In addition, DifesAttiva has promoted the production and the sale of local products from the farms that correctly manage  livestock and have adopted damage prevention measures. DifesAttiva participated to a total of 48 events to promote the use of damage prevention.

DifesAttiva has independently established an agreement with Almo Naturae, a firm producing pet food, which has agreed to secure the provision of food for up to 100 LGDs for the whole 2018.

ACTION C3 – Installation of fences as protection means in Portugal

A total of 34 permanent metal  fences were built in 19 farms. The first permanent fence was built in 2013 (19.06.2013) to protect an ostrich farm that registered high damage caused by frequent wolf attacks.

The selection criteria of the beneficiaries were established in a coherent way with action A3 and C4 and consisted in the following: i) previous damage suffered; ii) foreseeable continuity of the farm in order to ensure long term sustainability in the use of fixed fences; iii) motivation to use the fence, including availability to pay for part of its installation, namely the construction work; iv) livestock species, and number of heads giving priority to sheep and cows; v) feasibility of construction in terms of terrain and landscape features; vi) farm size and economic viability. Given the characteristics of the livestock management and the fact that mainly cows are raised in the extensive system, the best solution was to protect not the entire flock/herd but to build permanent fences to protect calving cows, newborn/young livestock during the day/night, or the entire flock/herd during the night. Material was purchased by the project (for a budget around to 3,500€ per farm), and in the cases that the farmer wanted to increase the perimeter of the fence, additional material was purchased with own funds. Most of the fences were installed between 2014 and 2016. Considering that 1-3 fences were built per farm, in situations of 3 fences, the construction lasted until the beginning of 2017.

The construction of fences was under the responsibility of the farmers (with technical support provided by ESACB staff), making them involved in the process and co-responsible for ensuring the proper use/maintenance of the fences and ultimately their efficacy.

The use and functionality of the fences was ensured by the project staff, and in some cases, interventions were necessary for improving the effectiveness. In a particular case, the ostrich fence had to be improved as a predatory event occurred (19 months after the start of operation of the fixed fence) because of terrain irregularity that allowed a wolf to jump the fence. No other damages occurred inside the fences.


ACTION C4 – Installation of prevention means in Italy

In the frame of this action 80 fences in 71 holdings were installed. The difference between the objectives set in the project (130 mobile e-fences and 10 fixed fences) is due to the fact that almost all farmers opted for fixed fences, which are at least 2,5 times as expensive as the mobile fences are.

The selection of beneficiaries was undertaken as described in Action C2, and a list of potential livestock owners beneficiaries of prevention measure was defined as a result of the expression of interest published by the Province

In order to maximize the number of interventions we fixed a maximum budget of € 2,500.00 for each fence.

A specific survey to each farmer was made to define what kind of prevention measures were the best depending on the characteristics of their husbandry type and method and what kind of prevention measures were possible to implement depending on landscape conditions.

Four different type of fences were proposed to livestock owners: fixed metal fence, fixed electric fence, a mixed one, and mobile electric fence.

After the construction of any fence, a second specific visit was made in order to verify that the intervention was correctly made. The first fence was tested the 24/11/2014 and the last on on 27/03/2017. Of the 80 fences installed 86% are metal fixed fences, 2,5% are mixed ones, 7,5% are mobile ones and the remaining 4% are fixed electric fences. The average perimeter of the tested fences is 276 (± 130) meters.

The construction of the fence was under the responsibility of the farmers (with technical support provided by project staff), making them involved in the process and co-responsible for ensuring the proper use/maintenance of the fences and ultimately their efficacy.

A part from the labor for the installation of the fence in 42% of the fences the farmers provided additional materials (e.g., gates, poles, part of the welded mesh) at their own expense.

All the tested fences were monitored every 6 months through a specific visit, while the electric fences were monitored every 4 months, since the electrical components need to be controlled with deeper attention. During these visits the correct use of the fence will be checked out in order to measure the efficiency of fence for damage reduction. The visits constitute also a mean for building a strong relationship with local farmers.

Major problem were encountered with mobile electric fences, because sometimes wild ungulates damaged the fence, and it happened that in some cases the lambs got stuck in the mesh of the fence and died suffocated. For this reason we suggested to the farmers to maintain the fence always electrified when the animals were inside, in this way they learn to avoid to approach the fence. Another possible solution could be to install a metal fence along the perimeter of the electric fence.

The action was implemented in a satisfactory way, and we think that the selection of beneficiaries, the technical assistance to the farmer and the monitoring of the fences could represent good examples to be followed by other administrations in the future.

ACTION C5 – Poisoning control and anti-poaching activities in Portugal

The activities focused on the coordination and facilitation of the implementation of the strategy developed within the Programa Antidoto-Portugal (PAP). Many resources were invested in training, coordination and updating information for facilitating the implementation of anti-poison canine teams within SEPNA-GNR. The poison canine team was not established, but control actions throughout the study area were insured with interventions of a Spanish canine team that collaborated with LIFE Innovation Against Poison (LIFE09/NAT/ES/000533) and LIFE Iberlince (LIFE10/NAT/ES/000570). A national database of poisoning events (>400 animals, 2003-2017) and a list of relevant contacts were compiled and updated, and the data used in a GIS model produced by GL to identify the main factors associated with illegal activities and map the risk of their occurrence. Regarding the study area, more than 50 events were registered since 2003, involving more than 100 animals, mostly dogs (63%), but also foxes (15%), and vultures (11%). This averaged 4.4 cases, 9.9 animals per year from 2003-12 (before the project), and 1.5 cases, 2.5 animals at the end of the project (2016-17), a 66% and 75% reduction, respectively.

ACTION C6 – Poisoning control and anti-poaching activities in Italy

In the frame of this action as was foreseen in the project we established 2 anti-poaching teams and 1 anti-poison team with 2 detection dogs. The action was under the responsibility of Carabinieri Forestale.

Once the anti-poaching teams were set up they started to make surveys in the provincial territory. A total of 28 surveys in 10 municipalities were carried out.

The anti-poison detection team was established in State Reserve Marsiliana. Two dogs were purchased and trained in Andalucìa for the first period.

The first dog was delivered in June 2016, together with a specialised training course for dog handlers, that lasted 3 weeks. In September 2016 the second dog was also delivered and a three week training session for handlers was started. The training session was attended by the dog handlers from other LIFE projects (LIFE MIRCO-lupo and LIFE PLUTO). This offered the opportunity to team building for the handlers who collaborate and help each other in case of uncertainties or difficulties after the trainers left to Spain.

The team was fully operational from October 2016 and started its activities including routine training sessions and preventive surveys as well as interventions after urgent calls.

ACTION D1 - Assessment of the efficacy of damage prevention structures and livestock guarding dogs in Portugal

The evaluation of prevention measures' efficacy was made both in Italy and Portugal trough different approaches:

  • “Epidemiological approach”

We monitored during a period of 12 months a sample of treatment farm vs control farms, where treatment farms were the ones that received the fence and the control ones were those without prevention measures, and made a comparison between the number of attacks suffered and heads killed

  • B.A.C.I. approach

We evaluated the amount of damages in terms of numbers of attacks and number of heads killed before and after the fence installation and the use of livestock guarding dogs for each farm that benefited from our prevention measures.

  • Farmers satisfaction

We made a survey to understand farmers opinion towards the efficacy of fences and livestock guarding dogs. When we deal with the conflict between wolf and human activities we have always to remember that it’s not only a question of numbers but it’s important to evaluate the perception of the interest group directly involved by the livestock depredation.

In Portugal, an overall analysis, comparing the average number of damages from 2013-2016 (95.5 events), with those of 2017 (55 events), when most prevention measures were fully operational, there was a decrease of 42.4%.

Considering the overall number of months the fences were in use, and the months before they were operational, we found a significant decrease in the average number of attacks per holding/month (83%) and in the average number of affected animals per holding/month (88%). During the 1-year monitoring period, when we registered the conditions in which livestock damages occurred in treatment and control farms, only one treatment farm registered damages (5 attacks, affecting 20 sheep), that occurred when the flock was left outside the fences, namely during the night, and thus the main purpose for using the fences (night confinement) was not met.

In the case of LGDs there was an overall reduction of >60% in the number of animals affected.

Satisfaction data were obtained from 19 beneficiaries (mostly of fences). Most (53%) considered fences and/or LGDs effective in reducing predation and 63% considered the LIFE MEDWOLF a good initiative, and most (79%) were aware about the work developed by the project in what concerns the donation of fences/LGDs to other farmers.

Overall, the results show a significant reduction in damages, indicating the feasibility of both measures for some holdings, and their potential to mitigate conflicts when properly used. Subsidies for LGDs exist (albeit small), but incentives for fences should be in place to compensate costs and extra work required (changes in husbandry), as well as technical support.

ACTION D2 - Assessment of the efficacy of damage prevention structures and livestock guarding dogs in Italy

The evaluation of prevention measures' efficacy was made both in Italy and Portugal trough different approaches:

  • “Epidemiological approach”

We monitored during a period of 12 months a sample of treatment farm vs control farms, where treatment farms were the ones that received the fence and the control ones were those without prevention measures, and made a comparison between the number of attacks suffered and heads killed

  • B.A.C.I. approach

We evaluated the amount of damages in terms of numbers of attacks and number of heads killed before and after the fence installation and the use of livestock guarding dogs for each farm that benefited from our prevention measures.

  • Farmers satisfaction

We made a survey to understand farmers opinion towards the efficacy of fences and livestock guarding dogs. When we deal with the conflict between wolf and human activities we have always to remember that it’s not only a question of numbers but it’s important to evaluate the perception of the interest group directly involved by the livestock depredation.

In Italy, overall we recorded 139 depredation events during the 1 year monitoring period comprising 94 official and 45 unofficial ones. 93 (67%) depredation events occurred in control farms, while 46 (33%) in treatment farms. 107 attacks (77%) occurred during daylight, 32 (23%) during the night. 63% of the attacks during daylight occurred in control farms and 37% in treatment farms. The difference between the two groups was much higher if we analyzed the attacks during the night, where we can really evaluate the role of the fence in flock protection. Of the 32 attacks took place during the night 81% occurred in control farms and only remaining 19% in treatment farms.  Of the 6 events occurred in treatment farms only 1 happened inside a fence but the predator passed under the gate that was not correctly installed; the remaining 5 attacks were registered on groups of sheep that were not protected in any way.

We registered the same trends when we compared the number of animals killed in the 2 groups of farms. Of the 367 animal killed 66% were of control farms and 34% of treatment farms; 272 (74%) animals were killed during daylight, while 95 (26%) during the night. The percentage of animals killed during daylight was 58% in control farms, and 42% in treatment farms, while during the night was 81% and 11% .

These results showed clearly that fences, used as flock protection during the night played a significant role in damage reduction in terms of number of attacks and number of animals killed.

We also evaluated the data following the B.A.C.I approach. We considered the number of damages occurred before and after the installation of the fences for 49 farms.

The period before the installation of fence was calculated from 1/1/2014 to the date of the test of fence by the project staff. The period after the fence test date was calculated until 30/09/2017.

For the ex-ante period we registered 137 attacks and 324 killed animals in 3082 days (we summed the number of days for all the farms), while for the ex-post period we registered 83 attacks and 188 killed animals in 36230 days.

This means that damage reduction after fence installation was 47% if we consider the number of attacks and 50% if we consider the number of animals killed.

A total of 163 farmers were interviewed about the efficacy of prevention measures. Fences were judged a valid tool to reduce the risk of predation by 81% of the farmers, and a similar percentage (74% of farmers) answered in the same way for LGD’s; but the majority of farmers responded that the use of the fence and LGD’s involves additional work in livestock management.

All the different approach showed the success of action implementation from different point of view.

ACTION D3 - Assessment of wolf presence in expansion areas in Portugal

In the frame of this action we estimated wolf distribution in the project area in 2016 and we made a comparative analysis with results obtained in 2013-2014.

The development of this action has involved two associated beneficiaries, GL, which was charged with field work and data collection, and INIAV, responsible for the genetic analysis of the samples. CIBIO-InBIO Laboratory collaborated to assess connectivity of the MEDWOLF nucleus with the remaining Portuguese wolf population South of the Douro river, by comparing the 2016 MEDWOLF scat samples with theirs, gathered since 2011 in monitoring studies of three westward packs.

The same methodologies used in action A2 were implemented: interviews, camera trapping, sign surveys, howling sessions, and the Scat Detection Dog Team (SDDT).

Three packs were estimated: one confirmed in Almeida (also estimated in 2014), one considered probable in the border with Spain (F. de Castelo Rodrigo/Almeida, estimated in 2014), and one new pack considered probable in Sabugal/Malcata.

Analysis performed by CIBIO-InBIO confirmed the dispersion of 2 males from a nearby pack (Leomil), one after 2011 and the other after 2014. This confirms the connection between the packs of the study area and those westward that may be relevant source packs to the MEDWOLF nucleus and deserve special attention. No hybridization was found since 2013, despite the presence of dogs throughout the area. Results are promising, the presence in the Estrela Mountain, Guarda, and the existence of the Sabugal/Malcata pack reveal an expanding range that may foster a positive trend.

ACTION D4 - Assessment of wolf presence in expansion areas in Italy

The evaluation of the presence of wolf in Province of Grosseto was made in the period February 2017 – September 2017. The technical coordination and scientific overview was provided by IEA and the University of Roma “La Sapienza”. The estimated number of wolf packs present was 16 reproductive, 4 non reproductive and 1 probable. This is a higher estimate of the one produced previously, suggesting an increase of the wolf presence in Grosseto, although estimates were produced using different methodologies.

Data were collected using classic techniques such as scat collection for genetic analyses, camera traps and wolf howling. The sampling design was developed in order to cover as much as possible of the large territory of the Province of Grosseto. The preliminary selection of areas to survey was made based on the results of action A6, the preliminary map of habitat suitability model, where areas associated to higher probability to detect wolf were identified. A total of 172 3x3km cells were selected on the areas of highest suitability scores (48% of the high suitability area of the Province).

A total of 2220 Km were covered to look for wolf scats. 978 scats were registered, and 296 were sent to the lab for genetic analysis, and of those 138 had DNA of adequate quality for genotypes identification. 63 genotyped (32 males and 31 females) wolves and putative wolf x dog crosses were registered in the project area.

35 camera traps were placed within the sampling cells in sites where wolf presence had been detected, Intensive camera trapping check was performed in May, July and September. A total of 744 photo/video documents were realized, and with some of them it was possible to detect reproduction events.

Wolf howling was performed using a saturation sampling approach in the selected cells, and in simultaneous sessions whenever required. A total of 37 (including 6 spontaneous howlings) positive responses were received, of which 19 with pups.

In order to estimate population abundance, from the genetic results, two maximum likelihood based modelling approaches were used.

The estimated number of individuals present in the sampled area, following the most reliable model, was 80 (95% CI: 50-109). In the area surveyed a total of 16 reproductive packs, and 4 packs for which no reproduction signs were recorded, plus one probable pack were detected. Extending the estimate to the wolf suitable area as resulted from the model developed with action A6, the number of packs for the whole provincial territory goes up to 22-24 and the number of individuals estimate goes to a maximum of 100 (range: 86-115) wolves.

Comparison with data available from the previous surveys suggest that the number of packs have increased since 2014 (LIFE IBRIWOLF data reported 5 reproductive packs), and 2015 (14 packs were reported in 2015 from a survey conducted by CIRSeMAF under a contract with the Tuscany Region, with an estimate of ca. 75 individuals for the whole provincial territory).

In conclusion we want to underline that the methodological approach used in this study could be a good example to be followed in the future not only in the project area.

We produced a reliable and accurate estimate of wolf distribution and abundance at the provincial level and the results achieved could represent a starting point to monitor the evolution of the wolf presence in the following years.

Azione D5 Ex-post survey on the Knowledge level and attitudes toward wolf presence in Portugal

The survey replicated Action A11 enabling a comparison with the data gathered previously. A total of 377 face-to face interviews were done (150 general public, 84 farmers, 58 hunters, 21 journalists, 64 environmental police officers. Opinions remained stable or had slight changes at the end of the project, but environmental police officers opinions improved significantly. All groups, except farmers, recognize wolves as having an important role in nature. Hunters do not see wolves as competitors for game and most want wolves to exist. Although a peak of negative news covering wolf damage appeared in the local media between the opinion polls, journalists do not believe wolves have a strong impact on livestock, and their support for wolf conservation improved slightly.

Knowledge level is consistently low but improved in particular groups after the information actions by the project, like the environmental police officers, the journalists  and the  hunters, also in the case of students whose knowledge increased significantly after the educational activities.

The results provide important insight on people’s willingness to accept wolves in wolf dispersal areas and provide managers with relevant information to improve the quality of their decisions.

Azione D6 - Ex-post survey on the Knowledge level and attitudes toward wolf presence in Italy

This action started in March2017 under the responsibility of FESTAMBIENTE, and ended in September 2017, when most communication activities had been developed.

Two separate approaches were conducted to this fulfil the objectives of the action:

  • A quantitative study of local resident’s opinions, through a fixed questionnaire
  • A qualitative study of the opinions of sheep owners and of the representatives of livestock owner and environmental associations, through semi-structured interviews


Quantitative study

A questionnaire of 36 questions was administered through computer assisted telephone interviewing to a random sample of 500 rural residents across the Province of Grosseto, in proportion to the number of residents in each municipality. A subsample consisting of respondents that currently own livestock or that had owned livestock in the past (n=74) was extracted from the sample of rural residents of the Province of GR. In addition, 504 questionnaires were administered to a random sample of residents at the national scale, in order to compare key variables with the rural populations of the Province of Grosseto.

The results show that the rural population of Grosseto province has a prevalently positive attitude towards wolf conservation. The conflict mitigation strategies most supported by the public are damage compensation, damage prevention measures, and general support mechanisms to the livestock breeding sector. Livestock owners were found to hold more negative attitudes towards wolf conservation and to be more favourable to wolf population control. A comparison with data collected in 2014 shows that opinions regarding the value and importance of wolf conservation among the rural population have remained consistent across the local resident and farmer sample, in this last case with a slight improvement. Other promising signs emerging from the comparison with data on local residents collected in 2014 are an increase in awareness regarding the wolf-dog hybrids and reduced perception of the wolf as a risk to public safety. On the other hand, we found a slight increase in support towards wolf population control. This finding is likely explained by our results suggesting that the wolf’s population and the damages it causes are perceived to have increased over time.

Finally, opinions at the national scale were found to be significantly more positive regarding wolf conservation and significantly less favourable to its population control, compared to opinions of local residents in the province of Grosseto. The cultural tensions and power relations that characterize the farmer-resident and local-national divides emerging from this study are important aspects to consider when addressing conflict surrounding wolf presence, and highlight the complexities inherent in developing management strategies that protect stakeholder and public interests alike.


Qualitative study

Twenty semi-structured interviews were conducted in total, 3 with representatives of the MedWolf project partners (2 livestock owner associations and 1 environmental association) and 17 with sheep owners (who were involved in the project and in DifesAttiva ( to varying degrees, through active, limited or no participation at all). An overarching theme that emerged is one that describes sheep breeding as a politically, economically and socially isolated sector. The narratives of marginalization and perceived loss of negotiating power that surfaced from the interviews are important descriptors of the context in which wolf presence is experienced, and were found to be strongly interconnected to a large number of themes regarding wolf conflicts.

Farmers showed a common basis of values as they all claimed to prefer for wolves not to be present or for their population to be reduced. On the other hand, they held contrasting opinions regarding the role of damage prevention measures. Some considered it a priority to revive livestock breeding activities given the available tools; others instead considered damage prevention as a palliative measure or, in the more extreme cases, a distraction from the more incisive solution of wolf population management. Regardless of whether damage prevention was viewed as an agent of loss or of restitution of power the LIFE MEDWOLF project was generally recognized as an important initiative.

The most appreciated actions were in fact the provision of materials and technical support to implement damage prevention measures and the actions to monitor their efficacy. Results also suggest that most farmers that expressed scepticism towards the project on the basis that it included wolf conservation among its objectives, still regarded many of the project’s actions as useful and necessary. The scientific, practical and collaborative approaches of the project were identified by the project partners as elements that enabled groups with different ideas to work together towards common objectives. The project partners and many farmers also claimed that the initiatives of the LIFE MEDWOLF project and DifesAttiva served to promote the exchange of experiences among farmers, open the sheep breeding sector to new ideas and to contact with the general public, and facilitate dialogue with the more moderate environmental associations. After participating in the projects’ initiatives, some farmers claimed their belief in the efficacy of damage prevention had grown considerably, and that they had become interested in experimenting with farm tourism and product promotion activities.

The results showed the general appreciation of the project actions by the general public and by the farmers. Even the farmers who showed the most negative opinions about the wolf appreciated the approach of the project to be open to listen all the opinions.

Questa azione è iniziata nel marzo 2016 sotto la responsabilità di FESTAMBIENTE e si è conclusa a settembre 2017, quando la maggior parte delle attività di comunicazione erano state sviluppate.

Sono stati utilizzati due approcci separati per raggiungere gli obiettivi dell'azione:

➢ Uno studio quantitativo delle opinioni della popolazione nei confronti del lupo e della sua gestione

➢ Uno studio qualitativo delle opinioni degli allevatori e dei rappresentanti delle associazioni agricole e delle associazioni ambientaliste attraverso interviste semi-strutturate

ACTION D7 - Assessment of the socio-economic impact of the project

In order to measure the socio-economics impact of the project and ecosystem functions in the project areas we developed 3 different typologies of indicators: social, economic and bio-ecological.

These indicators were measured for each year of the projects to analyse temporal variations of the selected variables.

Social indicators were mainly related to number of people involved in the disseminations activities.

Economic indicators were represented by a different set of variables. We considered the negative impact of the wolf on local farmers (e.g damages to livestock), but at the same time we measured what has been done to counteract this negative effect especially quantifying the number of farmers involved in the delivery of prevention measures, and the reduction of losses caused by the use of these prevention measures.

The economic impact of the project was also measured through the number of people contracted for project implementation, the revenue for local suppliers of material needed for implementation of project actions, the revenues for the local communities coming from wolf ecotourism programs in Portugal, and in Italy.

Finally to measure the impact on the ecosystem functions we estimated wolf population trends in the project area and the results of anti-poaching activities. These variables were selected as a tool to measure the direct effects of the project implementation on wolf conservation.

In order to measure the situation related to wild preys, only in Italy, we collected data from hunting statistics (In Portugal these kind of data were not available).

ACTION E1 – Project Web Site

The web site was created and put online in March 2013 with Italian, Portuguese, and English versions. The site is constantly updated with news (usually also on the Facebook page of the project), new material and has a section with downloadable documentation.

ACTION E2 – Communication Campaign about conflicts' mitigation in Portugal

The main products of this action were the following:


A leaflet with information about the bio-ecology of the species, the clarification of old and new myths about this predator, and the MEDWOLF project was produced and  distributed to the general public in the project  area.

One brochure on “Large Carnivores Know no Boundaries” was produced, after being translated and updated, and are being distributed to the public of the LCIE exhibits and was provided to the participants of the workshop of action E6.

A specific booklet on the Iberian Wolf, with detailed and technical data from A5, was produced and distributed to local/national managers and authorities, as well as interest groups and participants in events organized by the MEDWOLF.


Project moving Exhibition:  adapted from the LCIE exhibit on Large Carnivores, the exhibit was produced in five copies with a total of 10-16 panels printed per set. New panels were added focusing on the Iberian sub-species - wolf and lynx - and the Portuguese reality. The exhibition was set up in 19 different locations.

Furthermore, the project has collaborated with the National Museum of Natural History and Science of the University of Lisbon (MUHNAC) for setting up a permanent exhibit on Large Carnivores, entitled “Kings of Wild Europe: Our Last Large Carnivores”, which opened to the public on 02/03/2017 and registered 19,456 visitors until 30/11/2017.


Press conferences and press releases: the project produced in total 14 press releases and 4 press conferences


Information panels: 30 information panels were produced and distributed to the tourism offices in all the municipalities of the Portuguese project area, as well as to ICNF, Quercus, SEPNA-GNR units working in the study area, and to the Protected Areas included and to all the Portuguese associated beneficiaries


Media articles on wolf presence: 271 articles were published in regional/national newspapers or magazines. 9 interviews/news broadcasted on national TVs, and 13 national/local interviews broadcasted in radios


Scientific publication and participation at congresses:  a total of 22 oral presentations were given and 16 posters were exhibited in different scientific meetings


Tours in the project area:  Four different ecotourism programs were developed involving 4 municipalities of the study area (Almeida, Pinhel, Guarda, and Sabugal), where wolves are present, and 6 tours were held involving 66 participants


The wolf kit:The educational kit was was distributed to all the high-schools (15) in the project area


Meetings with interest groups: 29 meetings with different interest gropups were held during the project implementation and the LIFE MEDWOLF project was presented in 9 different talks.

ACTION E3 – Communication Campaign about conflicts' mitigation in Italy

Action E3

The main products of this action were the following:



A brochure with general presentation of the project;

A brochure on damage prevention measures;

A brochure on effects of poison;

A brochure containing indications on how to behave in presence of livestock guarding dogs;

A brochure presenting the association DifesAttiva.


Project moving Exhibition

The exhibition regarding the conservation of the wolf and the mitigation of conflicts was created based on a ri-elaboration of the one produced by the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe (LCIE), which has been translated into Italian.

We offered the exhibition for free and shipping was also covered by the project budget, so as to encourage wide usage of the exhibit. During project implementation the panels have been set up in 69 meetings/events.


Press conferences and press releases

34 press releases and 4 press conferences were made during the whole project duration.


Notice boards:

8 notice boards 50x70 cm were printed and distributed to the Italian associated beneficiaries.


Media articles

The project was reported in 163 articles and in several occasions direct  interviews to project staff member was included.


Scientific publication and presentation at scientific meetings

Two scientific publications were produced A scientific article was published on European Journal of Wildlife Research in February 2016. The paper highlights the difficulties to be tackled for conflict management and the lack of effectiveness of management approaches applied without a long-term strategy for conflict mitigation. A second scientific paper was published on the Journal of Animal Behaviour Science in January 2017 presenting the preliminary data on the use of GPS collars for detecting movements of LGDs.


The project was presented at 4 scientific meetings.


WOLF kit and school education activities

2 Wolf-Kits were produced in order to meet the needs of local schools:

l  Wolf kit junior in paper version. A booklet of 24 pages addressed to children aged from 7 to 12.

l  Wolf kit (from LIFE COEX project, 04 NAT/IT/144) in USB version, distributed to students aged from 13 to 18

The school activities were undertaken with the students of schools Capalbio, Alberese, Sorano, Marsiliana, Seggiano, Roccastrada, Arcidosso, Grosseto, Roma, Orbetello, Campagnatico, Magliano in Toscana, Civitella Paganico.


The layman's report


The report directed to the general public was produced in Italian and Portuguese, with English translation


Meetings with stakeholders


Four meetings with different stakeholders was organized and the following meetings were held:


17/06/2016 Meeting with environmental associations;


28/06/2016 Meeting with hunters;


4/08/2016 and 19/01/2017 Meeting with farmers.


Participation at Festambiente


The Summer festival organized by Legambiente is a particular occasion for making the project to be known to a wider public and increase awareness of adults and children. The project was present at the Festival in the editions of with Summer 2015, 2016 and 2017.


Other activities

A series of activities not originally foreseen were developed:

Course “Journalism@school”. A collaboration with the three local newspapers “Il Tirreno”, “La Nazione” and “Il Giunco” was started for involving students of two local high schools in reporting news in an objective and documented manner;

Production of a short film and a spot;

Participation at tourist initiatives to promote the project activities and especially DifesAttiva.

ACTION E4 – Connection with other LIFE and non-LIFE Projects

Action E4

An intense activity of networking was carried out in Italy, in Portugal, and in other European countries.

A total of 34 experience exchenges were carried during project implementation.

Some of the activities were only invited presentations, or attendance to meetings, while in other cases the events have led to concrete collaboration or exchange of information that was then implemented



Action E5 - Iberian Wolf Congress

The IV Iberian Wolf Congress was held in Castelo Branco from 29-31st October 2016. It was organized by GL in collaboration with different Portuguese and Spanish  entities, and aimed to disseminate the results and the latest advances in wolf studies, as well as its population situation, forms of conservation and conflict mitigation measures, and was strtuctured along three themes: Biological Dimension, Social Dimension, and Management and Conservation.

Around 140 participants attended, presenting 39 talks and 26 posters. The book of abstracts was delivered to all participants and invited speakers, and available for download at the Congress website, that had a Portuguese and a Spanish version.

ACTION E6 - Workshop addressed to the Community about the better solutions for wolf management

In order to convey to the community more information about the management of wolves, in February and March 2014 7 meetings with the Mayors of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, Almeida, Pinhel and Sabugal, Guarda, Penamacor and Idanha-a-Nova were organized.

On the 27th May the Italian representatives of CDP-WG (Carnivore Damage Prevention - Working Group) in Rome were contacted.

In the same period Grupo Lobo organized an international workshop focusing on experiences exchange about wolf impact on livestock (Castelo Branco, 28th October). The meeting was organized in collaboration with LCIE (Large Canivores initiatives for Europe) Pilot Action and with the participation of IEA and ESACB (Escola Superior Agrária de Castelo Branco).

On the 15th December in Gouveia the draft of the action plan for Iberian Wolf with Grupo Lobo was discussed by ALDEIA, the representatives of 20 different associations including SEPNA, ICNF and category associations.

On the 5th March 2015 Grupo Lobo sent the final document of the 1st meeting of IW-WG (Ibri-Wolf Working Group) and carried out the 2nd meeting in Lisbon.

In September 2015 Grupo Lobo updated the preliminary version of the “Guidelines on best practices”.

In December 2015 contacts were made with the local authorities - the instituto de conservação da natureza e das florestas (administration) and the 2 headquarters of the police departments (including SEPNA (Serviço de Protecção da Natureza e do Ambiente) - police of environment) which cover the project's area, but due to the lack of availability for December, workshops were planned for January 2016.

ACTION E7 - International Symposium on the prevention of wildlife’s caused damages

The international symposium was held in Grosseto on 9/11/2017. The symposium was associated to two technical workshops held on 8/11/2017 (see actions E4 and E8). The symposium was intended to be directed to both scientific and management sectors, as well as to the local parties involved in the issues, particularly in Grosseto Province.

The symposium included a National and an International sessions, and simultaneous translation was ensured. A total of 250 participants attended the symposium and the book of abstracts and all the presentations are available on the project website (link).

The main local authorities were present, and illustration of examples of good practices from both Italy and abroad were given. The students of Agricultural Technical Institute of Grosseto acted as press office for the symposium, and the students from the Tourist high school of Grosseto provided the buffet.

ACTION E8 – International working group about damage prevention and cross-border working group about evaluation of wolf's presence and entity

In the first phase of the project, a Carnivore Damage Prevention - Working Group was created, which includes the participation of Portuguese coordinators and 38 members, researchers from 12 countries. It publishes, periodically, CDP News (see the page in this web site).

ACTION F1 - Coordination and management

Action F1

Each phase of project implementation was carefully planned and monitored by the coordinating beneficiary, whose staff was responsible for assisting each beneficiary in the production of detailed programmes for each activity to be developed, according to the action's objectives and expected results, to undertake a feasibility analysis of the activities needed to reach the objectives planned and evaluate eventual additional efforts needed to ensure the tasks are accomplished.

The kick off meeting was held in Grosseto on 8/11/2012, and the Portuguese beneficiaries GL and FCUL were present. Ten coordination meetings with the representatives of the Italian partner were realized (21/09/2012; 14/05/2013; 30/01/2014; 02/10/2014; 03/03/2015; 6/10/2015; 14/1/2016; 20/11/2016; 18/1/2017; 10/10/2017). IEA staff travelled to Portugal eight times for coordination purposes 11-12/12/2012; 20-22/05/2013; 30/10-03/11/013; 18-22/05/2015; 26/2/2016; 23-27/5/2016; 9/2/2017; 3/10/2017). The project was visited by the external monitoring team on six occasions (05-07/03/2013; 26-27/05/2014; 22-23/06/2015; 23-27/5/2016; 6/11/2016; 12-13/2/2018), and always the presence of at least one representative of the Portuguese beneficiaries was present.



ACTION F2 - Monitoring of project evolution and results evaluation

Action F2

Project implementation was closely overviewed and progress assessment was made continuously, also with the support of the monthly reports requested by the project monitor. In order to ensure the robustness of the approach used for actions implementation and for ensuring the production of good quality documents, , a scientific advisory body (SAB) was created. The SAB included (Paolo Ciucci Francisco Petrucci Fonseca, Simone Ricci and Silvia Ribeiro.

In May 2014 a request of amendment to the grant agreement was submitted to the EC and subsequently approved on 17/09/2014 (ENV E.3/EDR/TF/ib ARES (2014).3050133). The amendment included two substantial changes to the agreement concerning project's partnership and organization. More specifically they included:

l  the addition of a new associated beneficiary (CFS) who became responsible of the implementation of the action C6;

l  the modification of a legal status of the associated beneficiary Instituto Nacional de Recursos Biológicos (INRB). This beneficiary underwent a process of internal restructuring which led it to change its name to Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e Veterinária, INIAV (see also the IR). 

In June 2016 a second request for amendment was submitted to the EC for extending the project duration from 31/03/2017 to 30/11/2017. The approval was received on 22/09/2016 (ENV.D.4/IB/ML/ib ARES(2016)5507505). A final amendment to the grant agreement was made in order to include the Carabinieri Forestali (CUFAA) in the partnership, replacing CFS. The amendment was received on 08/08/2017 and the partnership agreement with CUFAA was signed on 20/10/2017.