Hybridisation between wolves and dogs should always be regarded as undesirable, and it is a potentially serious conservation threat in small isolated wolf populations where even a few individuals can represent a large proportion of the population. This picture is from Latvia in 1999. These pups were found in a den in the forest. Genetic analysis indicated that the mother was probably a hybrid and that the father was a wolf. The pups were removed from the wild and placed in a zoo. This was a period during which wolves were being very heavily persecuted - potentially leading to a situation where wolves found it difficult to find mates. In recent years wolf - dog hybrids have also been detected in Norway and Germany - and in both cases most of the hybrid offspring were either shot or captured.
Text: John Linnell / Photo: Zanete Andersone