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Big, Bad Challenges for Spain's Rebounding Wolves

posted Jan 6, 2017, 1:07 PM by chloe owens

11/7/16, by EJ Horstman, National Geographic

Big, Bad Challenges for Spain’s Rebounding Wolves

“What is the value of a wolf?” I wondered, observing two of them resting a few feet away under the hot Spanish sun. Totally in tune with their environment, these two Iberian wolves looked out at the world through brilliant light-colored eyes…Their scientific name is Canis lupus signatus (signatus, Latin for “mark”). I was working with National Geographic’s Director of Remote Imaging…In Spain and Portugal combined live about 2,000 threatened wolves, mostly on the Spanish side. They hunt roe deer, red deer, and wild boar and keep those populations in check, balancing the ecosystem from the top down. But I learned from Lobo Marley that for about $6,000 US, you can legally kill a wolf in Spain. Anyone can bid online game reserve auctions, win, and shoot a wolf at 100 meters from a hidden blind. Wolves are baited illegally with slaughterhouse waste….what’s killing the wolves there: road accidents, rampant poaching, government culling, and legal auctions.