Following a number of sightings since 2012, researchers have now gathered enough D.N.A – based evidence to officially confirm their permanent existence in Denmark’s Jutland peninsula. However the news is tempered by the fact that no firm proof of breeding females or pups has been found, so the sustainability of the current group is in doubt. It is thought a small number of male wolves travelled over the German border in search of new territories: their existence back in Germany is also relatively recent, with a first sighting back in 1996. They are thought to have spread from Poland and now number over 150. Centuries ago, wolves were widespread across the whole of Europe, before farming viewed them as a threat to their livestock and dramatically reduced their numbers, along with industrialisation and deforestation.
But they are making a gradual comeback in many European countries now, including Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Finland, Estonia and Croatia. In total, they have now been confirmed in 31 countries. Some of these nations will compensate farmers for any loss of livestock, but some do not. It is thought the current Danish population is based around three lone males, yet some sound recordings made by local biologists indicate the howls of a much larger pack and the consensus is now leaning towards the assumption that a pack is now living permanently in Jutland.
Grey wolves are known to cover vast distances in search of food- over 1500 kilometres in some cases and are highly adaptable to terrain and diet changes. With public acceptance for them increasing, it may not be too long before they are once again a common sight in the countryside of mainland Europe.