In the early 1900s, the wolf (Canis lupus) was extirpated from France and Switzerland. There is growing evidence that the species is presently recolonizing these countries in the western Alps. By sequencing the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region of various samples mainly collected in the field (scats, hairs, regurgitates, blood or tissue; n = 292), we could (1) develop a non-invasive method enabling the unambiguous attribution of these samples to wolf, fox (Vulpes vulpes) or dog (Canis familiaris), among others; (2) demonstrate that Italian, French and Swiss wolves share the same mtDNA haplotype, a haplotype that has never been found in any other wolf population world-wide. Combined together, field and genetic data collected over 10 years corroborate the scenario of a natural expansion of wolves from the Italian source population. Furthermore, such a genetic approach is of conservation significance, since it has important consequences for management decisions. This first long-term report using non-invasive sampling demonstrates that long-distance dispersers are common, supporting the hypothesis that individuals may often attempt to colonize far from their native pack, even in the absence of suitable corridors across habitats characterized by intense human activities.