European
Wolf
Newsletter
European Subgroup of the IUCN Wolf Specialist Group
Number 5 December 97

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Previous edition

Table
of
contents
Preface
(by Christoph Promberger)
The Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe
(by William Pratesi Urquhart)
News
from various countries
Projects
from various countries
Croatia
Farmer kills rabid wolf
Wolf recovery in south-western Croatia

Estonia
Wolf numbers have decreased

France
Mercantour wolves continue to grow

Romania
More filming of wild wolves
Net capture method successful

Spain
Wolf population continues to grow
Controversy about wolf trophy hunting

Sweden
Reindeer herd moved to avoid wolf damage

Bulgaria
Revival of traditional method for livestock protection

Poland
Impact of wolf predation on ungulates in Bialowieza Forest

Romania
Carpathian Large Carnivore Project
Socio-economic dimension of large carnivores
Wolf tourism starts off

Spain
Influence of highways on wolves

 

Preface
by Christoph Promberger

Dear friends of the wolf,

you might be astonished to find a new edition of the European Wolf Newsletter on the Internet although you didn't receive a printed version. The Newsletter was produced throughout the summer but due to financial difficulties, Europe Conservation wasn't able to print and distribute it. Since then I have been trying to find other sources of funding and I hope to be able to come up with a new sponsor within the next half year. This copy, unfortunately, isn't really up to date anymore but many persons have contacted me in the last months asking for a new edition and told me that the information has always been very valuable to them. This is why we decided to put it on the Internet as some of the information might still be new to you. Oliver Matla has taken over the task to put the Newsletter on his homepage, many thanks at this place. Barbara Willis has once again corrected the worst mistakes in our English in a night session. Also thanks to Barbara for the ongoing support. I hope you will soon receive a new edition of the Newsletter.

Christoph Promberger

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The Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe

It is clear that the challenge of conserving large carnivores is complex, involving ecological, economic, institutional, political, and cultural factors and any realistic attempt to solve this conservation problem must take this complexity into account. No single agency, organisation, or institution will be able to solve the carnivore conservation problem alone.

Recognising these constraints, and the need to build strong partnerships at all levels, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has decided to get to grips with the problem so that the prognosis for large carnivores can be substantially improved, while the opportunity still exists. Together with partner organisations and experts in 17 European countries, WWF took the first steps towards the development of a "Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe" at a meeting in Abruzzo National Park, Italy in June 1995. Based on input from two subsequent workshops in Neuchatel, Switzerland (September 1995) and Oberammergau, Germany (January 1996), a programme plan has been developed building a network of interested parties and activities.

The aim is to support and build on existing initiatives/projects in the region and thus create a synergy of actions in order to both avoid duplication and also to make the most efficient use of the available resources. In order to implement this initiative, a "Large Carnivore Co-ordination Group" has been set up that includes representatives from governments, international and national NGOs, scientists and other experts. The initiative builds on important, ongoing work across Europe, disseminates valuable experience and knowledge from different countries, and develops new tools to promote the coexistence of brown bears, lynxes, wolves and wolverines with human societies.

The overall goal of the initiative is: "To maintain and restore, in coexistence with people, viable populations of large carnivores as an integral part of ecosystems and landscapes across Europe". To address this ambitious goal, a programme has been developed with four major components:

William Pratesi Urquhart c/o WWF Mediterranean Programme, Via Garigliano, 57, I-00198 Rome, Italy, Tel. ++39-6-84497360, Fax ++39-6-8413866, email mc2248@mclink.it.

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News

Croatia
Farmer kills rabid wolf

At three in the night on April 13th, 1997, a wolf attacked a chained dog at a farm house, after previously killing and wounding two other dogs in the same night in the neighbourhood. The farmer (71 years) rushed out of the house when he heard the noise and, as because of the night assumed that the attacking animal was a dog. He grabbed a wooden pole and tried to chase it away but the wolf attacked and wounded his leg slightly. The man succeeded, in a first attempt, to hit the wolfs head and knocked it down. Then he took a heavier pole, hit the animal several more times and finally pierced it with a hay-fork. After the veterinary examination the wolf (about four year old male) was found to be rabid and the farmer received treatment against rabies. Beside this one, three other wolves were positive for rabies in 1984, 1992, and 1996, respectively. The last two incidents occurred in Dalmatia, the south of Croatia.

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Croatia
Wolf recovery in south-western Croatia

The great majority of attacks on livestock occurs in Dalmatia (south-western Croatia), and the local people "know" (believe) that they are done by wolves which were brought in by helicopter from Siberia and are now under government protection. For UN helicopters flying over the mountain to Bosnia they say: "Wolfers are going to drop meat for their wolves." The fact that traditional methods of protecting livestock against predators are not known or lost, indicates that predators were not present in the area for some time. Recent occurrence of wolves in Dalmatia might be due to changes in nature caused by the war in this part of Croatia and in the neighbouring Bosnia and Hercegovina. The Croatian side of the area is covered by several land mine fields which are not entered by people, and represent safe haven for wildlife. In combination with the availability of a sufficient number of unprotected livestock this might have caused the comeback of wolves in the area.

(Josip Kusak, Biology Department, Faculty of Veterinary, University of Zagreb, Heinzelova 55, HR-10000 Zagreb, Croatia)


Estonia
Wolf numbers have decreased

A considerable number of wolves were hunted in Estonia in 1995 which resulted in a decrease of livestock damage. Almost 200 wolves were shot in 1996 and another 200 wolves are believed to inhabit the woodlands of the country in early 1997. The wolf population is still larger than the goal of having the numbers down to 50 individuals. Wild ungulates are still in decline and as many people believe that there is a migration of wolves into the country, hunting will continue. The diet of wolves has been determined lately by investigating 600 wolf scats between 1994 and '96. Roe deer has shown to be the main wolf prey both in winter and in summer. Young wild boar are represented in the scats 8 times more in winter than in summer. In winter, also red deer makes up an important part of the wolf diet. Also remains of hares, beavers, racoon dogs and mice were found in the faeces.

(Ilmar Rootsi, Estonian Naturalists Society, EPA-37 Eerika, EE-2482 Tartu, Estonia)

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France
Mercantour wolves continue to grow

Since wolves have shown up in the French Maritime Alps, they have been constantly growing in numbers. In late winter 1997, the population is now probably around 20 animals. The main pack is again composed by eight wolves. The second reaches five and two more groups have settled in new areas, one of 4 at the south-east and one of 2 on the north-west side of the Nationalpark. The results of the genetic analysis has confirmed that all wolves found dead in the Mercantour area (and also a few others found elsewhere in France (Vosges and Isère) or Switzerland) were genetically identical to those of the Italian population and different from Spanish, Polish and Romanian wolves. Damages reached about 700 sheep (plus 118 paid with 75% of the value). The total amount paid for compensation reached 950.000 FF for the year 1996.

(Benoit Lequette, Parc National du Mercantour, 23, rue d'Italie BP 1316, F-06100 Nice, Cedex 1, France)

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Romania
More filming of wild wolves

Timish, the radio-collared 'downtown wolf' of the Carpathian Large Carnivore Project, will gain more publicity. After she was starring the major role in parts of a BBC Natural History Unit documentation, she has been very co-operative for two other documentaries in summer 1997. In May, cameraman Markus Zeugin filmed when we recaptured her and exchanged her radio-collar. In June, we got extensive film material of the wolf and her packmates on the meadows and industrial areas of Brasov (320,000 inhabitants), along the roads and river channels and on bridges in the midst of Brasov. We observed her attacking flocks of sheep and hunting rabbits on the meadows next to the block of flats. Several times she stayed in town until sunrise and we could document her way back to the forest along the railroad tracks in-between trains, cars, and people.

(C. Promberger, O. Ionescu, L. Petre, A. Sandor, M. Minca, B. Fürpass, P. Sürth, Munich Wildlife Society, Linderhof 2, D-82488 Ettal, Germany, and ICAS Bucuresti, Sos. Stefanesti 128, RO-Bucharest, Romania)

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Romania
Net capture method successful

An alternative method to live-capture wolves developed by Henryk Okarma from the Mammal Research Institute in Bialowieza was for the first time tried successfully in a mountain area. The alpha female of the wolf pack, which is known to roam the suburbs of Brasov (320,000 inhabitants), had her radio-collar since over two years and we expected that the battery wouldn't last much longer. In May 1997, when she had pups, we installed fladdery lines in a 1 km2 area around her den and set two lines of nets in one corner. A driving with 20 persons pushed her towards the nets and although she jumped over the first row of nets, she was caught in the second row. The wolf, now at least 6 years old, was in excellent condition and we replaced her radio-collar. She did not move the densite thereafter and two nights later we observed her back on a walk through town. For packs which already have radio-collared wolves we can recommend this method as a very human method of capturing. Especially in the mountains, however, the action requires a lot of preparation and manpower.

(C. Promberger, O. Ionescu, L. Petre, A. Sandor, M. Minca, B. Fürpass, P. Sürth, Munich Wildlife Society, Linderhof 2, D-82488 Ettal, Germany, and ICAS Bucuresti, Sos. Stefanesti 128, RO-Bucharest, Romania)

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Spain
Wolf population continues to grow

In 1988, the Spanish wolf population was estimated at around 2,000 individuals. Most of the wolves were found in the north of the country where the population was stable or increasing and considered as a game species. Two relict populations in the Extremadura and the Sierra Morena (southern Spain) are isolated and were thought to be declining although fully protected. At present, some conservationist groups claim that the population in the north is declining due to overhunting. There campaign, however, has an emotional rather than a scientific basis. In fact, in this northern population the wolf range has expanded slightly eastwards with some individuals recorded near the Pyrenees. Nevertheless, the use of poison and the presumed impact of the growing network of roads and highways have been increasing in recent years.

The relict populations of southern Spain are further decreasing. A survey was recently carried out in the north of the Sierra Morena by a team directed by F. Palacios. The results are still unpublished but the authors are extremely pessimistic about the future of the wolf in that part of the country.

J.C. Blanco, ATECMA, c/Donoso Cortés, 8, 1_0, E-28015 Madrid, Spain

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Spain
Controversy about wolf trophy hunting

At the moment, there is an interesting controversy about wolf management in the north of Spain. In the Sierra de la Culebra Hunting Reserve in Zamora, where there are a lot of wolves and wolf hunting is legal, permits were sold to hunt two wolves at the price of about 500,000 pesetas (US$ 3,600) per wolf. Some conservationist groups are carrying out an intense campaign in the press against this measure. Other conservationists, on the other hand, believe that considering the wolf as a high-priced hunting trophy is a better option than that currently existing in Spain, where each year several hundred wolves are killed (most illegally) without the owners of the hunting areas yielding any financial gains.

J.C. Blanco, ATECMA, c/Donoso Cortés, 8, 1_0, E-28015 Madrid, Spain

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Sweden
Reindeer herd moved to avoid wolf damage

In 1996, wolves reproduced in at least three different areas, two in south-central Sweden, one further north in the reindeer management area. When the first snow came, a pack of five wolves was found in this later area preying on semidomestic reindeer.

In mid-December, the Environmental Protection Agency discussed the problem with the Same village and the County Administrative Board. The idea of the Agency was to move the reindeer out of the wolf territory and preliminary contacts with some forestry companies had indicated that they would be ready to offer suitable areas for this. The village, however, turned this suggestion down and applied for a permit to have all five wolves killed. This was rejected by the Agency on December 20th.

On December 28th, a wolf was illegally killed in the area. Later investigations by the police demonstrated that actually 2 wolves had been killed. Snowtracking in March revealed that three wolves remained in the area - interpreted as the alpha-female and two pubs from 1996.

In mid-February, the reindeer were moved out of the area considered as the wolf territory. Snowmobiles and helicopter were used and the operation was paid jointly by the Agency and the Swedish WWF. After the reindeer were moved and throughout mid-April there were almost no conflicts between the wolves and the reindeer herd.

(Anders Bjärvall, The Environmental Protection Agency, S-10648 Stockholm, Sweden)

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Projects

Bulgaria
Revival of traditional method for livestock protection

The project has been initiated by Green Balkans - Sofia Society and the Group for Retention and Breeding of Karakatchan guarding dogs (GRBK) and is part of Green Balkans wolf conservation programme in Bulgaria. The aim of the project is to breed Karakatchan guarding dogs and to give pups to shepherds who need protection for their herds.

The race of Karakatchan guarding dogs has a long history: it existed in the area for 5000 years. It is big, strong, has a rude constitution and a long fur which consist of two colours - dark (black, grey, brown or yellow) or white with clearly distinguishable spots. These colours have practical value - in case of night attack it is easy for the shepherd to distinguish the dogs from predators. The dogs have inherited a strong guarding instinct. The use of the dogs has become very rare during the last 10 years. Therefore, the lack of protection of livestock against predators has increased the frequency of damages in some regions of the country. It reinforces the negative attitude of farmers toward wolves and the conflict between them becomes deeper.

By implementing this project and a following public awareness campaign which includes educational programmes for pupils, Green Balkan intends to find ways for a better acceptation of wolves by people.

(Elena Tsingarska, Green Balkans - Sofia Society, Klokotnitsa Str. 35-37, entr.G, app.60, BG - 1233 Sofia)

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Poland
Impact of wolf predation on ungulates in Bialowieza Forest

Since January 1997, a new 3-year research project funded by the Committee of Scientific Research has been started by the Mammal Research Institute. The main goal is to assess an impact of wolf predation in Bialowieza Primeval Forest on major prey populations: red deer, roe deer, and wild boar. Three wolves have been already radio-collared. Next winter, more wolves will be livetrapped and equipped with transmitters. On the basis of radiolocations of wolves belonging to different packs conducted at night, prey carcasses are recovered. Species, sex, age, and a degree of consumption are judged for each prey. Number of prey killed by wolves in a period of time will be compared with population size of each prey species. Density of ungulates is estimated by the most reliable method, i.e. driving censuses.

(W. Jedrzejewski, H. Okarma, K. Schmidt, Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, PL-17-230 Bialowieza, Poland)

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Romania
Carpathian Large Carnivore Project

Research in this study, which is funded by EURONATURE, Jack Wolfskin and various other foundations and sponsors, focused on three packs during winter 1996/97. Home range use, activity patterns, pack size and the influence of human activities (e.g. logging) were investigated in the recent months. In winter time, wolves are mainly active during the morning and evening hours. Human activities did not seem to influence the wolves a lot, several times we found the wolves resting in thickets only short distances from logging activities. In spring 1997 we recaptured the alpha-female of the pack which roams the suburbs of Brasov (320,000 inhabitants) and equipped her with a new radio-collar. Two weeks later, a yearling wolf was trapped and radio-collared from another pack. During summer months, we will focus on the interactions with livestock.

(C. Promberger, O. Ionescu, L. Petre, A. Sandor, M. Minca, C. Roschak, B. Fürpass, P. Sürth, Munich Wildlife Society, Linderhof 2, D-82488 Ettal, Germany, and ICAS Bucuresti, Sos. Stefanesti 128, RO-Bucharest, Romania)

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Romania
Socio-economic dimensions of large carnivores

A new study which goes in conjunction with the Carpathian Large Carnivore Project, will focus on the socio-economic dimensions of wolves, bears and lynx in the area of Piatra Craiului in the Romanian Carpathians. Economic impact through losses of livestock to wolves and bears are compared with the income through trophy hunting tourism and ecotourism. Because of its difficulties in quantifying, the economic impact of large carnivores for forestry (e.g. through control of ungulate numbers) are not included in the calculation. The study is expected to be terminated in autumn 1998.

(Christina Wolf, University of Vienna, c/o Carpathian Large Carnivore Project, Str. Mare 887, RO-2241 Prejmer, Romania)

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Romania
Wolf tourism starts off

The tourism programme called 'Wolves and Bears in Transsilvania' has gone up a gear in 1997. After an initial phase with tourist groups and ecovolunteers in 1995 and 1996, six trips with tourist groups are being conducted during summer 1997. The groups get an introduction into the research activities of the Carpathian Large Carnivore Project and see a number of indices around the live of wolves and bears: a wolf den, scats, tracks or marking trees. Hikes through the area and all kind of information about forestry, wildlife management, the Carpathian ecosystem, local history and efforts to set up a biosphere reserve in the area are presented. One evening, an attempt to observe bears or wolves under the streetlights of Brasov is made and although there is no guarantee, chances are high to see wild large carnivores. The tourists stay in local pensions and are delivered with local food. We have experienced a high interest towards our activities from local people in conjunction with the tourism programme.

(C. Promberger, O. Ionescu, L. Petre, A. Sandor, M. Minca, B. Fürpass, P. Sürth, Munich Wildlife Society, Linderhof 2, D-82488 Ettal, Germany, and ICAS Bucuresti, Sos. Stefanesti 128, RO-Bucharest, Romania)

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Spain
Influence of highways on wolves

In recent years, around 5,000 km of four-lane, fenced motorways have been built in Spain, many of them in the wolf range in the Castille-Leon region, and this process will continue in the future. Scientists and conservationists are concerned about the barrier effect that these highways will presumably have. A field study has just started which is directed by the author and funded by the Ministry of Environment and the Regional Government of Castille-Leon. The main aim is to determine the characteristics of key wolf habitats and corridors in areas made up of remnant forests separated by agricultural land and highways in order to provide guidelines to minimise the fragmentation and the barrier effect caused by highways. Since March, two wolves have been trapped and radio-collared.

J.C. Blanco, ATECMA, c/Donoso Cortés, 8, 1_0, E-28015 Madrid, Spain

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Page published by Oliver Matla in 1997
Contents taken from the European Wolf Newsletter, edited by the European Wolf Network.








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