There are different biological stages within a wolf population. The Swiss wolf concept (DE, FR, IT) defines them as follows:
Pack: A wolf group that is stable for over at least 12 months (one biological year) containing at least three animals, including at least one female, which occupy together a home range. A pack is a social unit that eventually reproduces, catches prey together, and marks their home range together. Years without reproduction are possible.
Pair: a female and a male, staying together for at least 12 months, catching prey and travelling together. The establishment of a home range is possible, but not mandatory.
Resident individual: a solitary wolf staying in the same home range for at least 12 months. Short term records of other transient individuals without social bonds to the resident animal are possible.
Transient individual: a solitary living wolf, that has not yet established a home range and without social bonds with resident wolves (e.g. an animal on its dispersal). Records of short term stays within home ranges of other individuals, pairs or packs are possible.
After their eradication, wolves have started recolonising Switzerland in 1996. With only a few exceptions, all wolves in Switzerland originated from the Italian and Alpine populations. This can be determined based on the unique genetic haplotype HW22 only found in these populations. Due to the large mobility of wolves, we expect wolves from other populations to immigrate to Switzerland. The first pack was established in 2012 in the Calanda area, in the canton of Grisons. By January 2023, the number of packs has grown to 18 Swiss and 5 cross-border. We offer a continuously updated list of all wolves genetically detected in Switzerland as a PDF.
LIST OF GENETICALLY IDENTIFIED WOLVES PDF (in German)
Records of individual wolves can also be viewed in the Monitoring Center.
Number of detected packs in Switzerland (dark blue), transboundary packs (light blue) and individual wolves per year (red =total wolf population). Adult and juvenile wolves are grouped in the number of individual wolves. This graph includes genetic records, dead wolves, as well as observations that are temporally and/or spatially separated enough from genetic samples to make them independent. Status 31.01.2023.
The Wolf Alpine Group is an informal group of experts of wild animal research and management. It meets every two years in one of the Alpine countries for an exchange of experiences and to discuss and coordinate the monitoring of wolves. The discussions are then summarised and published in a report on the “Alpine Wolf Workshop”. The graph below is from the report on the 8th meeting in 2018. The abundance estimation for the entire Alps in 2015–2016 consists of 65 packs and 12 pairs. In this context, a pair has been defined as 1 male and 1 female that have been traveling together for two consecutive winters. The evolution of the number of packs and pairs in the Alpine countries is shown in the graph below.
Development of wolf packs and pairs in the Alps
Evolution of the number of wolf packs and pairs in the Alps. F = France (blue), IT = Italy (green), CH = Switzerland (light red), SLO = Slovenia (purple), TR = transboundary (yellow), TR? = probably transboundary (yellow hatched). The Wolf Alpine Group does not have the data from Italy for the years 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. Consequently, they were unable to present the complete data.
In 2022, an assessment of the wolf in Europe was carried out by the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe (LCIE) for the Council of Europe. A total population of 21,500 animals was estimated. The distribution of the estimated number of individuals among the different populations is shown in the table below.
|Scandinavian||NOR, SWE||approx. 550||Increasing|
|Karelien||FIN||approx. 290||Stable or increasing|
|Baltic||EST, LTU, LVA, POL||approx. 2490||Stable|
|Central European||DEU, POL, CZE, AUT, NLD, LUX, BEL, DNK||approx. 1850||Increasing|
|Carpathian||ROU, UKR, SVK, POL, CZE, HUN, SRB||approx. 4500||Stable|
|Dinaric-Balkan||SVN, HRV, BIH, MNE, MKD, ALB, SRB, KOS, GRC, BGR, TUR (europ.)||5800–6500||Unknown|
|Alps||ITA, FRA, CHE, AUT||approx. 1900||Increasing|
|Italian peninsula||ITA||approx. 2388||Increasing|
|Iberian||ESP, PRT||approx. 2550||Stable|
1Based on data from 2021–2022