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Nature & Environment

'Wolf dogs' could wipe out Europe's wolves

By T.K. Randall
May 29, 2019 · Comment icon 11 comments



Wolf-dog hybrids are becoming a big problem. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Nomadic Lass
Scientists in the UK have warned of the threat posed by packs of wolf-dog hybrids in the wilds across Europe.
A new study by researchers at the University of Exeter has highlighted the potential for Europe's pure-bred wolves to be completely wiped out due to interbreeding with free-roaming dogs.

Exactly how this problem should be tackled however currently remains unclear.

There are believed to be around 17,000 wolves on the continent and there is now a call to improve education on the impact of free-roaming dogs and the potential long-term consequences of allowing them to continue to breed with wolves unabated.
"We need to address this issue before wolf-dog hybrids backcross with wolves to the extent that wolf populations will be lost to hybrid swarms, and the conservation of wild populations will become unfeasible," said study lead author Valerio Donfrancesco.

"In this paper, we argue that scientific agreement is crucial to encourage decision-makers to act, and to raise awareness about this conservation issue in society at large."

Disagreements over whether the hybrids should be put down, sterilized or kept in captivity has lead to a significant ethical debate within the scientific community.

"The disagreements emerged from diverging ethical values between scientists of different backgrounds, such as ecologists and geneticists, from the lack of data on the effectiveness of different interventions, and from the worry of some scientists that on practical grounds allowing the removal of hybrids would open a legal loophole for the killing of wolves," said Donfrancesco.

Source: Science Daily | Comments (11)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by Impedancer 4 years ago
I hope it's just a howler.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Troublehalf 4 years ago
As a plural noun, 'swarms' can mean 'a large number of people or things'. As a verb it can mean 'to be overrun [with thing]'. Packs would suggest that they form packs in the first place, rather than there just being a large number of them. Wolves are not always in packs, either. So it's better to compare them as a number, rather than the social group, as the packs are not the issue per se, rather the numbers of the hybrids.   That's just my opinion though. It doesn't really matter.  
Comment icon #4 Posted by Eldorado 4 years ago
"A hybrid swarm is a population of hybrids that has survived beyond the initial hybrid generation, with interbreeding between hybrid individuals and backcrossing with its parent types." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_swarm
Comment icon #5 Posted by Myles 4 years ago
I don't take the article too seriously because of that and they called the wolves "mean". " driven by human activities that destroy habitats and mean wolves encounter more and more free-roaming dogs" Are they saying only "mean" wolves encounter dogs or all wolves are "mean".      
Comment icon #6 Posted by Desertrat56 4 years ago
Maybe it is a typo, maybe the poster meant to say "meat"
Comment icon #7 Posted by lightly 4 years ago
Sometimes "mean" can mean, average?
Comment icon #8 Posted by Sir Smoke aLot 4 years ago
Wolves suffered enough already? There was time when wolves were domesticated to be breed as dogs, was it? The act of it is, well, cruelty which surpasses everything many of us might heard about... How this will backfire i can't even imagine, but everything does fire back i just hope it wont be some hybrid ebola or something.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Desertrat56 4 years ago
I watched the video and it seems that it is a parroting of some scientific paper, which was probably written by an entomologist.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Eldorado 4 years ago
The Research Article: "Unravelling the Scientific Debate on How to Address Wolf-Dog Hybridization in Europe" At Frontiers:  https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fevo.2019.00175/full
Comment icon #11 Posted by openozy 4 years ago
I'd call this evolution,the hybrid will have skills to live close to humans unlike the wolf.The same thing has happened here with dingos.There is just not enough wilderness left for any wild predator to survive but nature has its ways.I think you will see a lot of this kind of thing in the future.


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