The main aim of the M.I.R.CO-Lupo project, co-financed by the EU under the remit of the LIFE programme, is the conservation of wolves in Italy, reducing the impacts of stray dogs.
The project brings together 5 partners the Apennino Tosco-Emiliano National Park, the Gran Sasso National Park, State Forestry Corps, the Carsa Edizioni e Comunicazioni di Pescara society and Rome’s Institute of Applied Ecology, an NGO. The project began on 1/01/2015 and will end on 31/3/2020.
Aims and specific objectives of LIFE M.I.R.CO-Lupo project
Anthropogenic hybridisation presents a grave threat to the conservation of wolves. The LIFE M.I.R.CO-Lupo project aims to ensure better conditions for the conservation of wolves. It acts upon the species’ loss of genetic identity due to hybridisation with stray dogs by neutralising the reproductive potential of wolf-dog hybrids, and of stray dogs present in the project site.
The project proposes to:
- Develop a working definition of wolf-dog hybrid
- Produce inherent estimates of the prevalence of the hybridisation phenomenon on a local scale
- Monitor the phenomenon upstream and downstream of the management interventions; developing a participatory and shared decision-making process for the management of hybrids.
- Provide clear and unequivocal information to authorities involved.
- Verify the efficacy and sustainability of the capture and sterilisation of hybrids
- Raise awareness and inform public opinion
It is essential to remember that the hybridisation between wolves and dogs must be managed on a suitable scale for the species in question; particularly its ability to disperse across long distances.
If locations adjacent to the management site contain other hybrids able of recolonising, the removal of hybrid individuals within the area may not have medium- and long-term effects.
The M.I.R.CO-Lupo project is carried out within the boundaries of two national parks, surrounded by provinces and regions presenting several wolf packs containing hybrids. This issue is therefore tackled using a three-pronged approach:
- The local neutralisation of the reproductive potential of hybrids following procedures which prevent the creation of vacancies both at individual level in the pack or on a territorial level.
- The testing of hybridisation management strategies, the evaluation of their economic and social functionality, applicability and sustainability, the identification of ‘best practice’ guidelines to applied in other locations and on larger scales.
- The evaluation of the control strategy’s long-term sustainability, at the single protected area level.