Man-eating Wolves Turn Out to Be Friendly Chamois

Italian media was aflame on Nov. 9, with reports of a wolf pack menacing two local women near Val d’Ultimo, in South Tyrol, Italy. The story first surfaced in the daily German-language newspaper Dolomiten before quickly spreading to other outlets and social media.

The front page of the German-language newspaper Dolomiten on Nov. 9. Photo: Dolomiten

 

According to the Dolomiten, the 23-year-old women were hiking at about 2,620m when they spotted a pack of frightening animals. The seven or eight creatures approached the women “threateningly” before moving away and eyeballing them from a distance.

The women quickly called for help, prompting the arrival of a Pelikan 3 rescue helicopter that finally scattered the menacing animals. Rescuers escorted the frightened women back to their vehicles “unharmed but frightened,” reported montagna.tv.

The only problem is that — although there are now roughly 3,000 wolves living in Italy — there are no wolves local to the area the women were hiking. This fact caused some confusion before officials from the local forestry office solved the mystery by reading tracks left in the snow by the animals.

It wasn’t wolves.

It was a pack of chamois — a small native antelope that primarily lives on grass, bark, and pine needles.

A chamois

A man-eating chamois, perhaps. Photo: Shutterstock

 

The case of mistaken identity comes at a time when the management of wolves is a bit of a touchy subject in Italy, claims montagna.tv.

A report from the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research lists the risk of a wolf attack as “above zero, but far too low to calculate.”

The report goes on to say that of the 489 wolf attacks recorded worldwide from 2002 to 2020, 380 (78 percent) were the result of rabies.

Field guide

To prevent any further confusion, ExplorersWeb created this handy identification guide.

a side-by-side comparison of a wolf and a chamois

A side-by-side comparison of a wolf and a chamois. Graphic: ExplorersWeb. Source Photography: Shutterstock

 

We hope this guide will prevent any cases of mistaken identity in the future.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall is an award-winning painter, photographer, and freelance writer. Andrew's essays, illustrations, photographs, and poems can be found scattered across the web and in a variety of extremely low-paying literary journals. You can find more of his work at www.andrewmarshallimages.com, @andrewmarshallimages on Instagram and Facebook, and @pawn_andrew on Twitter (for as long as that lasts).