For centuries, wolves have roamed the mountain ranges of Andalucía in southern Spain, but after years of decline the creature has been officially declared extinct in the region.

Since 2003, the regional government has carried out a census of the wolf (Canis lupus signatus) population in an effort to monitor the species and reduce conflict with the local population, farmers in particular.

However, in a report, the Andalucian government’s environment department says that “since 2020 there has been no sign of the wolf being present in Andalucía”, in spite of it being a protected species.

Up until at least 2010 it was estimated there were six to eight wolfpacks in the region, mostly in the Sierra Morena, comprising up to 56 individuals.

Despite the wolf being declared extinct only now, experts say there has not been any evidence of wolves in Andalucía since 2013, and probably no reproductive group since 2003.

“This is bad news and it confirms the negative trend for the few existing wolfpacks in southern Spain, which are threatened through being physically and genetically isolated from wolves in the rest of Spain, by loss of habitat, poaching and illegal hunting,” said Luis Suárez, the conservation coordinator for the World Wildlife Fund in Spain.