Wolf returns to central France

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The grey wolf has started returning to France's Massif Central mountains, almost a century after it was wiped out a from the region.

   AURILLAC, France, March 19, 2008 - 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.

AFP 

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