The fauna of Etna was described in the 19th century by Antonio Galvagni, who claimed to have seen wolves, fallow deer, wild boar, roe deer, griffon vultures and otters in the waterways. In the past, Mount Etna was covered by ice expanses of considerable size, due to the very different climate from the present day. This resulted in the presence of animal species that no longer live there.
Since the days of Galvagni, living conditions for animals have not improved. Rare species have disappeared, others have been added, including the Eurasian eagle-owl, and new species have joined the list of rare ones. Ruthless hunting, cutting down the woods, the use of pesticides, the increasing disturbance created by aggressive and devastating tourism that brought houses, roads and motorised vehicles to previously uncontaminated environments have been the recent factors to cause further rarefication of the fauna. Though depleted, the current fauna of Etna still retains a great wealth like no other.