Does the Wolf ( Canis lupus) Exhibit Human Habituation Behaviours after Rehabilitation and Release into the Wild? A Case Report from Central Italy

Animals (Basel). 2022 Dec 11;12(24):3495. doi: 10.3390/ani12243495.


The knowledge of how wolves’ movement patterns and habitat selection are affected by habituation to persons after a period of veterinary isolation, treatment and non-agonistic experience with humans is scarce. Unnatural behaviours could be transferred by imitation to members of the pack and to subsequent generations, increasing direct interaction risks. We used GPS data from a rescued radio-collared female wolf after an 11-day rehabilitation to estimate home range, movement patterns, circadian rhythms, and habitat selection, searching for signals of eventual behavioural distortions. In the period 1 August−26 November 2013, 870 valid locations were acquired. The wolf moved within a minimum convex polygon (95%) of 6541.1 ha (79% wooded), avoiding anthropized areas. Nocturnal and diurnal displacements were significantly different (p < 0.01). Nocturnal displacements were 4409.4 ± 617.5 m during summer and 3684.8 ± 468.1 m during autumn, without differences between seasons. Diurnal movements were significantly higher (p < 0.01) in the summer (2239.0 ± 329.0 m) than in the autumn (595.9 ± 110.3 m), when the hunting season was running. As for a wild wolf, clear complementarity concerning human activities was recorded and no habituation signals were detected, but this is only a first case study that aims to be a stimulus for further research and a call for widespread data sharing.

Keywords: habitat selection; home range; human habituation; movement pattern; rescued wolf.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

Grant support

This research received no external funding.