Carlos, Gregorio and Raul are the three Iberian wolves that live here at Dartmoor Zoo. They form a pack. They are quieter than the grey wolf pack of which they are a subspecies. They are slighter in build than the grey wolves, quieter, and more red in colour tone.
It is estimated that there are about 2000 wolves left in the wild in Northwestern Spain and Northern Portugal. They used to be widespread throughout the Iberian peninsula but numbers dropped drastically when hunting of wolves was encouraged in Spain during Franco's rule. Trapping, poisoning, and shootings were common. Their numbers have increased slightly due to some protection under Spanish law from 1971 when they were reclassified from 'vermin' to 'game species'. In 1992 wolves in a particular area were fully protected under the European Union's Habitat Directive. Although this has seen a setback since 2003 when the EU allowed culling in this formerly protected area due to damage to livestock, as long as the general wolf population wasn't harmed.
Illegal killing remains a huge problem as farmers see the wolves as a threat to their livestock. In the past sheep were protected by Estrela mountain dogs, but the practice all but died out with the decrease in wolf numbers. Now they have increased in rural areas a little due to depopulation, we are working with groups on the ground in Portugal including Lisbon University to try and educate and support the locals. Part of this is breeding estrela mountain dogs to give to farmers to protect their sheep so that they don't fear and kill the wolves as pests.