Wolf-dog hybrids born at Castel di Guido in outskirts of Rome.
Seven wolf-dog hybrid cubs have been filmed by hidden cameras in a nature reserve at Castel di Guido, located between Rome and the capital's coastal district of Fregene, not far from Fiumicino airport.
The video, which shows the cubs playing together, was filmed by the wildlife charity that manages the reserve, the Italian league for bird protection (LIPU).
However the cubs' arrival concerns LIPU volunteers, reports Italian newspaper La Repubblica, as the fact that they are a cross between wolf and dog leads to a "serious conservation problem for the wild species."
The pups are the offspring of wolf Aurelia and wolf-dog hybrid Nerone, whose arrival in the reserve led LIPU to request his immediate sterilisation.
LIPU told La Repubblica that it received "positive opinions and authorisation" from Italy's environment ministry and ISPRA (the Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research), regarding the plan to sterilise Nerone.
However this was "not matched by a similar attitude on behalf of the State Nature Reserve of the Roman Coast, Comune di Roma, whose incomprehensible and unjustified immobility continues to this day", LIPU told La Repubblica.
Experts say the wolves' diet consists predominantly of wild boar, meaning they are not a threat to farm animals. They also avoid human contact.
In August of this year the Rome branch of Italy's agricultural organisation Confagricoltura claimed that wolves were getting "within a few kilometres of the centre of Rome", however this claim was rubbished by the Appia Antica regional park authority.
Wolves became protected in Italy in 1971 after the species faced extinction. Italy now has an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 wild wolves, centred mainly in the Apennines and Alps mountain regions.
The she-wolf, or lupa, is the symbol of Rome and is often depicted in art suckling the city's mythical twin founders, Romulus and Remus.
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Wolf-dog hybrid cubs in Rome nature reserve
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