For centuries, wolves have roamed the mountain ranges of Andalucía in southern Spain, but after years of decline the creature has been officially declared extinct in the region.
“This is bad news and it confirms the negative trend for the few existing wolfpacks in southern Spain, which are threatened through being physically and genetically isolated from wolves in the rest of Spain, by loss of habitat, poaching and illegal hunting,” said Luis Suárez, the conservation coordinator for the World Wildlife Fund in Spain.
It’s incomprehensible that, despite a situation that goes back decades, the wolf has not been listed as a species in danger of extinction and there’s been no recovery plan,” he said.
Had it been categorised as in danger of extinction, the Andalucian government would have been legally obliged to take measures to protect the local wolf population.
Spain has Europe’s largest wolf population. In the mid-19th century there were about 9,000 wolves distributed throughout the country. A policy of eradication meant that by the 1970s only a few hundred remained.
When poisoning was outlawed in the 1970s, the species began to recover. In the most recent census, in 2021, there were between 2,000-2,500 wolves in 297 packs, 90% of which were in the north-west.