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The wolf-dog hybrid was killed in the Rhine Valley in Chur, eastern Switzerland © Keystone / Alexandra Wey

A wolf hybrid has been shot in Switzerland for the first time. Genetic tests have confirmed that an animal killed in March in the Rhine Valley in eastern Switzerland was the offspring of a wolf and a dog.

This content was published on June 13, 2022 – 11:24

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Investigations by the Laboratory for Conservation Biology in Lausanne and the Senckenberg Centre for Wildlife Genetics in Gelnhausen, Germany, revealed that the animal was a second-generation backcross, the Graubünden Office of Hunting and Fishing said on Monday.

Before it was shot, the animal had attracted attention because of its particularly light colouring. It is thought to have migrated to canton Graubünden via northern Italy and Ticino. The animal’s wolf side comes from the Italian-Alpine population, but its exact origin is not known.

At the end of December 2021 the authorities in canton Graubünden were informed about a beige wolf-dog hybrid near Domodossola in Italy. In January there were individual sightings of the suspected hybrid, first near Domodossola and later in Ticino, and then in March there were indications that the animal was in the Rhine Valley in Chur, canton Graubünden.

Long-term negative consequences

In order to protect species, it is important that hybrid animals are shot so that they cannot reproduce, the Office of Hunting and Fishing said at the time. Otherwise this could lead to long-term negative consequences for the wolf population.

According to federal hunting legislation, suspected hybrids are to be shot by the cantonal enforcement authorities.

The animal killed in March is the first offspring of a dog-wolf mating to be detected in Switzerland. There are no indications of the presence of other hybrids in the canton, the authorities said.

At the end of January a suspected wolf hybrid was shot in canton Valais in western Switzerland. The animal’s striking dark coat and size had led experts to believe it might be a wolf-dog hybrid, but genetic analysis showed that the animal was a pure wolf.

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