Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Wolf cubs arrive in Devon as part of rewilding strategy

Wild European Grey wolves in Hungary Wild European Grey wolves in Hungary PhotocechCZ
16 Mar
2017
Wolves have arrived at a wildlife park in Devon as part of ongoing campaign to rewild parts of the United Kingdom

Six wolf cubs are being settled into their new home at the Wildwood Trust in east Devon as part of a long-term campaign to reintroduce wolves to the UK. Born in Hungary, but raised at a wildlife research centre in Sweden, the cubs are ten-month-old European Grey Wolves – the most likely species to be released into Britain through rewilding. However, should the wolf return, it would probably only be in parts of Scotland and even then not for several years to come.

‘Before we can think about reintroducing carnivores like wolves, we have to get people used to the idea of the species being part of the British landscape,’ says Peter Smith, Wildwood Trust founder and rewilding advocate. He believes the key to rewilding is education: ‘We need to dispel the myths of the “big bad wolf” while also giving young people the skills to rewild in the future.’

Lemmy 18 weeksOne of the Wildwood Trust wolf cubs (Image: Wildwood Trust)

Wolves were a native UK species long before they were vilified and eventually exterminated in the 18th century. Since then, their behaviour has become better understood and scientists have also discovered the importance of predator species to ecosystems. It is thought that by reintroducing key species such as the wolves, pressure from the current overabundance of grazing species would be eased on ecosystems, as well as improving the levels of biodiversity. ‘Wolves are keystone species,’ says Smith, ‘which means they drastically alter the environment around them for the better.’

Part of the cubs’ role in Devon will also be to help researchers explore the link between wolves and domestic dog species. Christina Hansen-Wheat, biologist at Stockholm University, will continue to compare the wolf cubs to dog puppies, looking at how the predator’s behaviour began to change as it became domesticated.

The cubs will spend the next four months in quarantine. ‘But the public may still be able to catch glimpses of them before that ends,’ says Smith.

Related items

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Oceans

Steps to regulate fisheries and protect marine reserves can be…

Wildlife

Government proposals to change conservation legislation could see vulnerable mammals…

Wildlife

New research confirms that sharks navigate using the Earth's magnetic…

Nature

The field of bioremediation involves cleaning up toxic waste products…

Wildlife

A new analysis tots up the cost of invasive species…

Climate

It’s surprisingly difficult to know why trees die, but understanding…

Nature

By the late 1980s, almost all mature specimens of the…

Oceans

Scientists are discovering that narwhal tusks reveal a great deal about…

Climate

Climate change is bringing earlier, dangerous 'false springs', longer summers…

Wildlife

A victory for conservation, South Africa has announced plans to…

Energy

The UK has made little progress decarbonising heating, but a significant source…

Nature

The concept of 'natural capital', where the value of nature…

Geophoto

Prestigious photography competition returns for a fourth year

Climate

Founded in the USA by Denis Hayes, Earth Day became…

Geophoto

Tom Goldner's project Do Brumbies Dream in Red? is an intimate portrayal…

Wildlife

Not your usual tune: translating spider's silk into sound could…

Oceans

Millions of oysters have been rescued from the struggling shellfish…

Climate

History is littered with examples of fungi helping to digest…