The French Alps

The French Alps cover an area of 38,000 square km, or just over 15,000 square miles. As with many other European countries, France has not been happy to share its space with predators, and so all were exterminated by the the second world war

The French Alps border the Alps from many other country and has a result wildlife from the rest of the alps has been able to spread. Back in the 1995 some of the Italian wolves started migrating across the border,  On this occasion the wolves set up a territory and became established. Over the next 25 years the wolves have increased dramatically so that now there are between 500 and 600 living in the french alps. While they have been expanding far into France the core consisting of 50% of their population is still in the French Alps.

A view of the French Alps

There are no bears in the french alps, they still exist further south in Italy, as well as in the Dinarac alps that run from northern Italy, east and south into the Balkans down to Albania in the South East. It is therefore possible that they will return on their own in time, and given a young dispersing bear can cover large distances, it is always possible for them to return. The important thing is to remember that this is prime bear habitat, and that it is therefore highly likely that one day they will be back.

However, apart from the returning wolves there are now a few lynx that live wild within parts of the French Alps.There are other mountain ranges that lie close by which host more lynx, however I have listed them separately. While lynx tourism is a fantastic boost to the country, it should be noted that lynx are incredibly shy and so are not seen often. This shouldn’t detract from the interest though as their impact on the ecosystem is very clear. When walking in areas with animals like lynx, looking for signs of their presence can be a rewarding pass time – particularly with young children who are unlikely to have the patience to see the animal assuming it will appear anyway. Tracks and droppings are often not to hard to find.

Different parts of the French alps have different levels of human presence. If you are looking for wilderness, the Southern french alps are one of the wildest regions of western europe.

Chamois mouflon and marmots are common here as well as roe deer.


 

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The French Alps cover a large area, and the wildlife is pretty wide spread.  Unfortunately often to see wild animals in their native habitat you need a mix of luck and patience with a little knowledge mixed in.