Representative of the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB) in Occitanie, Matthis Petit gives us an overview of the installation of the wolf in the region.
What is your role on the pitch?
We coordinate the wolf, lynx network to provide information on these two animals. For this, we train correspondents in the field, agents, naturalists, hunter-breeders, who send us back the signs of presence. We go from biological analyzes to genetic analyzes to synthesize the presence of the wolf at the local level. There is no method to know how many wolves are present at a specific time in a given sector. We establish statistical models that allow us to make an estimate.
What is the situation in Occitania?
We are concerned with dispersers, isolated individuals coming from the Mercantour and who are settling. We are in nine sectors of permanent presence over at least two consecutive winters. We have not yet identified a reproduction. We have two new areas: the Larzac and the Somail, straddling the Tarn and the Hérault. On the number of individuals, we always go quietly: between 12 and 15 identified wolves detected in the region. We have mainly isolated individuals, as on the Caroux since 2014. On Mont Lozère or in the Black Mountain, we have identified two. In the POs, there are some on the Puigmal side and on the edge of the Ariège.
What announces the arrival of a wolf?
Signs of presence, photos and testimonials. Attacks on livestock if it is concerned with breeding. When we have attacks on a new sector, we very quickly set up monitoring, camera traps.
Do you intervene for the findings of attacks?
We are technical operators when finding damage for DDTs (Departmental Directorate of Territories). We look for visible lesions and wounds on the animal to understand the origin. The decision rests with the DDT after the file of technical elements has been submitted. Depending on the involvement of the wolf or not, the compensation is put in place.
Stray dog attacks are very different?
There are very dog-type observations, others wolf-type and a gray area where it is difficult to say. The verdict is “wolf responsibility ruled out or not ruled out.” If there is any doubt, it is indicated that the responsibility of the wolf is not ruled out. Dog attacks in general are less targeted and precise with shallower bites. For the wolf, we often have targeted bites on the throat for the kill and on the posterior for a destabilization bite.
On the Larzac, a wolf is about to form a pack?
It’s a hypothesis. On the Larzac, we had a wolf from the end of 2016 to 2018 and then she disappeared. We again had signs of presence in the area in December 2020 and then, in January 2022, the first images of two wolves together. We are going to set up in summer a protocol adapted to the detection of reproduction to know if there is installation in a pack.
Would that be problematic?
It all depends on who you ask. For breeders this would be a matter of concern.