According to a local report, the image of the only canine was taken from April 7 to 8 in Londinières – a village in the northeast of Normandy – on an infrared camera.
Authorities from the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB) say it is probably a gray wolf (Canis lupus lupus), but additional information is required to confirm the sighting.
“Given the quality of the images provided and the fact that many breeds of dogs can have a coat size and color similar to that of a wolf, this expertise should be considered with some reserve”, the OFB, to which images of the alleged wolf were sent. April 12, said in a press release, infonormandie.com reports.
Historically, wolves were a common sight in much of Europe, but human activity caused populations to plummet, and in the 20th century the species became locally extinct in many endemic regions.
However, recent conservation efforts have helped revive European wolves, with individuals reported from almost every country on the European continent. In 2015, a report published by the European Union identified 10 distinct populations ranging from Portugal in the west to Poland in the east. Spain and Italy have some of the healthiest populations in western and central Europe, but most are found in the Baltic states.
The presence of wolves in France was confirmed in 1992, when individuals were spotted wandering in a national park in the Alps. According to the International Wolf Center, a research and educational organization, populations have spread from Italy to Mercantour in south-eastern France and further north along the French Alpine chain.
In June 2019, the OFB reported that the number of wolves had increased to around 530, compared to 430 the previous year, which makes it likely that the species has crossed the threshold of 500 individuals necessary to ensure the sustainability of the populations of the country.
“We now consider that the wolf is no longer an endangered species, which is a good thing in terms of biodiversity,” said Minister of Agriculture Didier Guillaume at the time, according to thelocal.fr.
While OAB environmentalists explained that the increase in numbers was largely due to population growth in the Alpine region, they said it was important to note the colonization by wolves of new regions, including including areas as far north as the central massif and Aube-Yonne.
Earlier this year, a woman spotted a wolf in the Charente department of western France in what is believed to be the first sight seen in the region since 1926, Le Parisien reported at the time.
According to the International Wolf Center, there are now around 13,000 wolves in Europe, excluding Russia.