Wolf population near Athens is increasing

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Wolf populations near Athens have been increasing since the Mount Parnitha fire in 2007. Credit: Gunnar Ries / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

A recent incident in which a wolf approached a man and his daughter and attacked their dog on Mount Parnitha just outside Athens on Saturday shocked many Greeks across the country.

Most of the inhabitants of the Greek capital certainly had no idea that wolves roamed the mountainous slopes so close to the metropolis.

Greek wildlife organization Callisto, which is dedicated to conserving the country’s native wolf populations, announced after the incident that at least 25 wolves lived in the area from central Greece to the outskirts. mountainous area of ​​Athens, but the actual number could be higher.

Wolf attack near Athens

This is an increase from previous years, when wolf populations outside of Athens struggled. It is believed that a recent increase in the number of local deer, which occurred after a massive forest fire razed much of Mount Parnitha in 2007, has resulted in an increase in the wolf population.

“Wolf sightings on Mount Parnitha are not new, as we have recorded other incidents in the past. The problem is, since Mount Parnitha is very close to Athens… many nature lovers and hikers leave food there for the wild animals, thinking that they are feeding and helping them. This is a very bad practice, as it can lead to addiction in wild animals, ”Giorgos Mertzanis, director of Callisto, told ProtoThema.

It can also lead to more frequent contact between people and wildlife, which should always be avoided if possible.

“We have seen stray dogs hybridize with wolves, and these dogs have adopted wolf behavior despite not being completely wolves in genetic terms. Since many look like average stray dogs, they can appear familiar and tame to people, ”but they can be dangerous, Mertzanis pointed out.

Although the attack was tragic, with the father and daughter having lost their beloved dog, taking pets has been prohibited on Mount Parnitha since 1985.

“This rule should be understood by all visitors… Unfortunately, we tend not to apply the rules. There is no visible sign to inform people of the rule… Caution is required even if such attacks are very rare ”, underlined Mertzanis.

Callisto is dedicated to the protection of wolves and bears in Greece

Callisto was founded in 2004 by a group of scientists dedicated to the preservation and protection of Greek nature and fauna. The main objectives of the organization are to study, protect and manage “the populations and habitats of large carnivores, bears and wolves and other endangered wildlife”.

They also hope to “improve the coexistence of man and wildlife”, which includes educating the public about Greek wildlife and how to act in situations like the one recently faced by the man and his daughter. .

Callisto raises awareness of environmental issues in Greece, particularly those that impact the country’s large carnivores, such as bears and wolves.

Scientists at the organization monitor the populations of these carnivores in Greece and help preserve their habitat by combating major human interventions, such as real estate developments, on land inhabited by animals.

Callisto also has a “Bear Emergency Team” which “intervenes as soon as a wild animal is in danger (in the event of trafficking, poaching, etc.)” and in the event of interactions between these animals and humans.

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