The grey wolf has started returning to France's Massif Central mountains, almost a century after it was wiped out a from the region, experts believe.
France's wolves were eradicated in the 1920s, but lone animals started crossing back into the French Alps from Italy in the 1990s, and there are signs they are now venturing deeper inland.
Two hikers photographed a large dog-like animal wandering in the town of Lavigerie, in the central Cantal region, on January 20.
The National Office of Hunting and Wildlife confirmed on Monday it was a male grey wolf after carrying out tests on the animal's prints and excrement.
Wolf sightings have been reported in the Cantal in the past. In 1997 a wolf was run over by a car in Lavigerie and DNA tests later showed it was genetically linked to the Italian wolf.
Wolf populations have rebounded in central and eastern European countries and in recent years have reappeared in Germany and Switzerland as well as France.
But in the Alps, the reappearance of the wolf -- which roamed across 90 percent of France until the 18th century -- has sparked a sometimes fierce debate between livestock owners and environmentalists.
Date created : 2008-03-18