European agreements for nature conservation need to explicitly address wolf-dog hybridisation

Valeria Salvatori, Valerio Donfrancesco, Arie Trouwborst, Luigi Boitani, John D.C. Linnell, Francisco Alvares, Mikael Akesson, Vaidas Balys, Juan Carlos Blanco, Silviu Chiriac, Dusko Cirovic, Claudio Groff, Murielle Guinot-Ghestem, Djuro Huber, Ilpo Kojola, Josip Kusak, Miroslav Kutal, Yorgos Iliopoulos, Ovidiu Ionescu, Aleksandra Majic SkrbinsekPeep Mannil, Francesca Marucco, Dime Melovski, Robert Myslajek, Sabina Nowak, Janis Ozolins, Georg Rauer, Ilka Reinhardt, Robin Rigg, Laurent Schley, Tomaz Skrbinsek, Linn Svensson, Aleksander Trajce, Igor Trbojevic, Elena Tzingarska, Manuela von Arx, Paolo Ciucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Hybridisation between wolves and dogs is increasingly reported in Europe. Nonetheless, no systematic survey has ever been attempted at the continental scale. We made the first assessment of wolf-dog hybridisation (WDH) occurrence in Europe and analysed how the phenomenon is addressed by international legislation and managed at the country level. We found that WDH is reported in all nine extant European wolf populations, and in 21 out of 26 countries for which we received information. The two main international legal instruments (i.e., the Habitats Directive and the Bern Convention) do not explicitly mention the threat posed by hybridisation but do provide guidance promoting control of free-ranging wolf-dog hybrids. However, we recorded poor compliance with such recommendations in most European countries, and a lack of coordination in addressing WDH among countries sharing the same wolf population. Alarmingly, we revealed a lack of well-designed and implemented country-wide genetic surveys to detect and monitor hybridisation, both relevant pre-requisites to effectively implement WDH management. By recommending criteria for an operative definition of “hybrid”, we also suggest improvements to enhance WDH-related policy at the European scale.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108525
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume248
Issue numberAugust 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

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