Ilka Reinhardt, Gesa Kluth, Sabina Nowak
and Robert W. Mysłajek
A review of wolf management in Poland
and Germany with recommendations for
future transboundary collaboration
A review of wolf management in Poland
and Germany with recommendations for
future transboundary collaboration
Robert W. Mysłajek
top: 4 month old wolf pup of the Seenland pack in a former coal mining area (S. Koerner);
middle: green bridge over a highway in Western Poland (Association for Nature “Wolf”);
down: livestock guarding dogs in combination with electric fences are an effective method to
prevent wolf attacks on sheep (LUPUS, Wildlife Consulting)
LUPUS, Wildlife Consulting
Dorfstraße 16, 02979 Spreewitz, Germany
Association for Nature "Wolf"
Twardorzeczka 229, 34-324 Lipowa, Poland
German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear
Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), Unit II 1.1 “Wildlife Conservation”
The present paper is the final report of the contract „A Review of wolf management in Poland and Germany
with recommendations for future transboundary collaboration“ (reference No.: N I 3 -45031 POL/0), financed
by the German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear safety (BMU).
01.11.2011 - 31.03.2012
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List of figures ............................................................................................................................ 3
List of tables ............................................................................................................................. 3
Summary/Streszczenie/Zusammenfassung ...................................................................... 4
Introduction ....................................................................................................................... 9
Conservation status of wolf populations in Europe, Poland and Germany ..................... 11
Europe ..................................................................................................................... 11
Historical outline ............................................................................................... 11
Current distribution and conservation status in Europe .................................... 14
Poland ...................................................................................................................... 21
Overview on re-colonalisation of wolves in Poland ........................................... 21
Current wolf distribution and population numbers in Poland ............................ 22
Polish wolf population from a continental perspective ...................................... 23
Transboundry wolf populations ......................................................................... 24
Germany .................................................................................................................. 24
Overview of re-colonalisation of wolves in Germany ........................................ 24
Current distribution and population number of wolves in Germany .................. 25
Wolves in Germany from a continental perspective ......................................... 26
Threats to wolves ..................................................................................................... 26
Threats to wolves in Europe ............................................................................. 26
Threats to and conflicts with wolves in Poland - needs for wolf conservation and
management in Poland ................................................................................................... 28
Threats to and conflicts with wolves in Germany .............................................. 34
Legal aspects of wolf management in the EU, Poland and Germany ............................. 37
Legal aspects of wolf management in the EU .......................................................... 37
Poland ...................................................................................................................... 40
Germany .................................................................................................................. 43
and technical aspects of wolf management in the EU, Poland and Germany . 45
Scientific and technical aspects of wolf management in the EU .............................. 45
Poland ...................................................................................................................... 49
Germany .................................................................................................................. 65
Wolf management plans and conservation measures of Poland and Germany ............. 75
Poland ...................................................................................................................... 75
Germany .................................................................................................................. 76
Synopsis and assessment of compatibilities and differences .................................. 79
Recommendations for future transboundary collaboration ............................................. 82
Acknowledgment .................................................................................................................... 88
Literature ................................................................................................................................ 89
Appendix 1. Template for a transboundary management plan from the Guidelines for
Population level Management plans for Large Carnivores in Europe (Linnell et al. 2008) ... 102
Appendix 2. Natura 2000 sites protecting wolf habitats in Poland ....................................... 106
Appendix 3. Monitoring of wolves in Poland and Germany .................................................. 109
List of figures
Fig. 1: Forest tracks in Poland where wolves were recorded in the first half of the 20th
century. .................................................................................................................................. 13
Fig. 2: Wolf distribution in Poland at the beginning of 2012. .................................................. 23
Fig. 3: Development of wolf population size in Germany. ..................................................... 25
Fig. 4: Wolf occurrence in Germany, 2011/2012. .................................................................. 26
Fig. 5: Locations of wolves poached in Poland, 1998-2012. ................................................. 31
Fig. 6: Locations where wolves were killed on roads and railways in Poland, 2000-2011. ... 32
Fig. 7: Wolves found dead between 1990 and April 2012 in Germany. ................................ 35
Fig. 8: Natura 2000 sites protecting wolf habitats in Poland. ................................................ 59
Fig. 9: Natura 2000 sites protecting wolf habitats in Poland set against wolf distribution. .... 59
Fig. 10: Network of ecological corridors in Poland (according to Jędrzejewski et al. 2005c). 61
Fig. 11: Compensation paid to farmers for damage caused by wolves in Poland, 2000-2010.
The numbers for 2005 - 2007 are not available. .................................................................... 63
Fig. 12: Number of damages caused by wolves (above) and compensation payment (below)
in Germany. ........................................................................................................................... 71
Fig. 13: Raw distribution of the Central Europen wolf population in March 2012. ................. 81
List of tables
Tab. 1: Wolf populations in Europe and number of (wolves) packs in European countries. .. 17
Tab. 2: Causes of wolf mortality in Germany. ........................................................................ 35
Tab. 3: Derogations from the Polish Nature Conservation Act to shoot wolves in Poland,
2008 - 2012. ........................................................................................................................... 42
Tab. 4: Wolf population in Poland. Estimation done in 2006 for the period of 2000 - 2006. .. 50
Tab. 5: Development of damages to livestock and compensation payment in Saxony and
Brandenburg. .......................................................................................................................... 70
Tab. 6: Regional action planes and guidelines on the wolf in Germany. ................................ 78
Tab. 7: Synopsis and assessment of compatibilities and differences in wolf management
between Poland and Germany. .............................................................................................. 79
The return of the wolf to Central Europe is an outstanding achievement of nature
conservation, and at the same time one of its major challenges. In order to mitigate conflicts
and achieve coexistence between wolves and humans active wolf management is needed.
The wolves that have recently settled in western Poland and eastern Germany belong to the
same population - the “German-Western Polish” population (L
INNELL et al. 2008), but
traditions and experiences with wolves differ between both countries, as so do the
management approaches taken. In Poland, wolves have been always present; hence, some
form of management has always been applied, although a formalised management plan for
wolves has not been officially accepted, yet. Nevertheless, Poland has defined population
goals for the national wolf population. Germany, a wolf country for only about 12 years now,
already has numerous regional plans in place delineating approaches on how to minimise
conflicts and responsibilities on a regional scale. However, the country does not have a
national plan, the population goals have not been defined yet. Consequently, the framework
to develop and implement uniform regional plans guiding wolf management is also missing.
Since the term “German – Western Polish population” no longer fits its geographic
distribution, we propose to name it “Central European population” instead. In winter 2011 /
2012 there were 24 packs (including two scent marking pairs) known in the Polish portion of
the population. 14 packs and three scent marking pairs were confirmed in Germany.
However, it is not known how many of these territories are transboundary, so double
counting of packs on both sides of the border is likely to occur. This is because neither a
common cross border monitoring plan exists nor common monitoring standards allowing for
the comparability of monitoring data.
The main threats to the Central European population are fragmentation, reduced connectivity
to neighbouring populations, traffic accidents and poaching. Although the attitude of the
general public toward wolves is generally positive, there is largely a lack of acceptance of
wolves among hunters in both countries. Wolf-livestock conflicts are moderate, both in
Poland and Germany.
The legal frame in both countries is the same; the wolf is a strictly protected species. While in
Germany the wolf is included in Annex IV of the Habitats Directive, in Poland it is included in
Annex V. Nevertheless, in Poland the species has been strictly protected under national law
since 1998 and is not listed as a game species. In Germany, several Länder endeavour to
list the wolf as a game species; however, this will not alter its legal status. In both countries a
system of strict protection has to be maintained for the wolf.
In Poland, a centralised wolf management system was established under the responsibility of
the Ministry of the Environment and the General Directorate for Environmental Protection. In
Germany, the federalist system of government calls for decentralised management. The
nature conservation authorities of the Länder are the bodies responsible for wolf
management, and in some Länder responsibility has even been further delegated to the
administrative districts. In accordance with the decentralised system, compensation and
prevention schemes vary between the German Länder. In Poland, a national compensation
law defines compensation payment regulations for the whole country. Prevention measures,
however, are generally only funded within the scope of temporary projects.
Currently, Poland is defining favourable reference values (favourable reference range and
favourable reference population) for two bioregions (continental and alpine). Germany has
not defined minimum population goals. While Germany has monitoring standards for large
carnivores, Poland has not defined such standards yet. Rather, the country has concentrated
on developing wolf monitoring methods and indicators of population status and habitat
quality. Therefore, a common robust assessment of the transboundary population is not
possible at this point in time.
Having the same legal framework, common management of the Central European wolf
population seems both feasible and reasonable, and development of a joint population level
management plan is recommended. While it may take some time to develop such a plan, we
strongly recommend collaborating on some issues as soon as possible:
Development of common monitoring standards.
Improvement of monitoring structures in Germany and Poland.
Announcement of an institution to consistently compile data (across intranational
boundaries), and which can provide up to date information on national (population
based) population size on demand.
Yearly common assessment of population size and area of occurrence for the CE
Development of favourable reference values for the entire CE wolf population.
Research on habitat utilization and territory size in Germany and Western Poland
updating the habitat models for wolves as a basis for robust FRR analyses.
Joint genetic monitoring.
Establishment and protection of the joint ecological network.
New structuring of the German-Polish wolf working group; inclusion in the group of
Powrót wilka do Europy Środkowej jest ogromnym sukcesem ochrony przyrody a zarazem jej
wielkim wyzwaniem. Aby złagodzić konflikty i zapewnić koegzystencję ludzi i drapieżników
niezbędny jest odpowiedni plan zarządzania populacją wilka. Wilki, które niedawno
zrekolonizowały Polskę Zachodnią oraz wschodnią część Niemiec należą do tej samej
„niemiecko-zachodniopolskiej” populacji (L
INNELL et al. 2008), jednakże stosunek i
doświadczenie w kontaktach z wilkami różnią się w obu państwach, podobnie jak podejście
do zarządzania ich populacją. W Polsce wilki zawsze były obecne, zawsze też istniał jakiś
sposób zarządzania ich populacją, jak dotąd jednak żaden program zarządzania populacją
wilka nie został tu oficjalnie zaakceptowany. Kraj ten zdefiniował jednak główne cele rozwoju
(wartości referencyjne) dla krajowej populacji wilka. Tymczasem Niemcy, kraj zasiedlony
przez wilki zaledwie od 12 lat, posiada wiele regionalnych planów zarządzania populacją
tego drapieżnika, w których określono sposoby minimalizowania konfliktów oraz
zdefiniowano zakresy kompetencji poszczególnych instytucji w skali regionalnej. Jednak brak
tam krajowego programu zarządzania populacją wilka, nie zdefiniowano również krajowych
celów rozwoju populacji tego gatunku (właściwych wartości referencyjnych), a tym samym
nie istnieje żaden punkt odniesienia dla istniejących regionalnych planów zarządzania.
Ponieważ termin “niemiecko-zachodniopolska” populacja wilka nie odpowiada jej obecnemu
geograficznemu rozmieszczeniu, proponujemy by nazwać ją populacją
„środkowoeuropejską”. Zimą 2011/2012 populacja ta liczyła 24 watahy (w tym
znakujące pary) w części polskiej oraz 14 watah i trzy znakujące pary w części niemieckiej.
Jednak nie wiadomo ile z tych watah zajmuje terytoria transgraniczne, więc możliwe jest
podwójne liczenie tych samych wilczych grup rodzinnych po obu stronach granicy
państwowej. Wynika to z braku wspólnego transgranicznego monitoringu populacji oraz
odmiennych standardów monitoringu uniemożliwiających porównanie istniejących danych.
Głównymi zagrożeniami dla środkowoeuropejskiej populacji wilka są: fragmentacja
środowiska, ograniczona łączność pomiędzy sąsiednimi populacjami, a także śmiertelność
powodowana przez kolizje z pojazdami i kłusownictwo. Pomimo tego, że nastawienie ogółu
społeczeństwa do wilka jest raczej pozytywne, akceptacja tego drapieżnika ze strony
myśliwych jest w obu krajach znacznie niższa. Konflikty pomiędzy wilkami i gospodarką
hodowlaną są natomiast umiarkowane zarówno w Niemczech, jak i w Polsce Zachodniej.
W obu krajach status prawny wilka jest taki sam – gatunek ten jest objęty ścisłą ochroną.
Jednak, podczas gdy w Niemczech wilk jest umieszczony w załączniku IV Dyrektywy
Siedliskowej, to w Polsce został on włączony do załącznika V. Pomimo tego, w Polsce wilk
jest ściśle chroniony przez prawo krajowe od 1998 r., i od tego czasu nie znajduje
liście gatunków łownych. W Niemczech kilka krajów związkowych (Landów) ma zamiar
umieścić wilka na liście gatunków łownych, jednak nie zmieni to jego statusu prawnego w
całym kraju. Ścisła ochrona wilka powinna być utrzymana w obu krajach.
W Polsce system zarządzania populacją wilka jest scentralizowany, a instytucjami
odpowiedzialnymi za jego ochronę są Ministerstwo Środowiska oraz Generalna Dyrekcja
Ochrony Środowiska. W Niemczech, system federalistyczny decyduje o decentralizacji
zarządzania populacją tego drapieżnika. W każdym z krajów związkowych istnieją
odpowiednie służby ochrony przyrody odpowiedzialne za zarządzanie populacją wilka, a w
niektórych Landach odpowiedzialność tą przekazano nawet do niższych jednostek
Die Rückkehr des Wolfes nach Mitteleuropa ist zugleich ein herausragender Erfolg und eine
der größten Herausforderungen für den Naturschutz. Um eine Koexistenz von Menschen
und Wölfen zu erreichen und Konflikte zu minimieren, ist ein aktives Wolfsmanagement
notwendig. Die Wölfe in Westpolen und Deutschland gehören der deutsch-westpolnischen
INNELL et al. 2008) an. Allerdings unterscheiden sich sowohl die Erfahrungen
als auch die Traditionen im Umgang mit Wölfen und folglich auch die Managementansätze
zwischen beiden Ländern. In Polen war der Wolf nie ausgerottet und entsprechend hat es
immer irgendeine Form von Wolfsmanagement gegeben, auch ohne einen formal
akzeptierten Managementplan. Allerdings hat Polen Populationsziele für den nationalen
Wolfsbestand definiert. In Deutschland, erst seit 12 Jahren wieder Wolfsland, haben in dieser
kurzen Zeit bereits mehrere Länder eigene, regionale Managementpläne entwickelt, in denen
Zuständigkeiten und Wege der Konfliktminimierung definiert sind. Jedoch gibt es auch in
Deutschland keinen nationalen Managementplan, Populationsziele wurden bisher nicht
definiert, das heißt, noch fehlt der Rahmen für die regionalen Managementpläne.
Die Bezeichnung „deutsch-westpolnische Population“ entspricht nicht mehr ihrem
geographischen Vorkommen, wir schlagen daher vor sie stattdessen „Mitteleuropäische
Population“ (Central European population) zu nennen. Im Winter 2011 / 2012 waren 24
Rudel (inklusive zwei Wolfspaare) im polnischen Teil dieser Population bekannt. 14 Rudel
und drei Wolfspaare wurden im deutschen Populationsteil nachgewiesen. Allerdings gibt es
keine Daten darüber, wie viele der Territorien sich auf beiden Seiten der Grenze erstrecken.
Doppelzählungen von Rudeln beiderseits der Grenze sind daher wahrscheinlich. Bisher gibt
es weder ein gemeinsames grenzübergreifendes Monitoring, noch gemeinsame
Monitoringstandards, welche die Vergleichbarkeit der Monitoringdaten ermöglichen würden.
Die Hauptgefährdungsursachen für die Mitteleuropäische Population sind Fragmentierung,
wenig Austausch mit benachbarten Populationen, sowie anthropogen bedingte Mortalität,
wie Verkehrsunfälle und illegale Abschüsse. Obwohl die Bevölkerung in beiden Ländern
Wölfen gegenüber insgesamt überwiegend positiv eingestellt ist, ist die Akzeptanz in der
Jägerschaft dem Wolf gegenüber deutlich geringer. Wolf – Nutztierkonflikte sind in Polen und
Der rechtliche Rahmen ist in beiden Ländern derselbe, der Wolf ist streng geschützt.
Während Deutschland ihn im Anhang IV der Fauna-Flora-Habitatrichtlinie listet, führt Polen
ihn im Anhang V. Trotzdem ist er auch in Polen auf nationaler Ebene seit 1998 streng
geschützt. Der Wolf unterliegt in Polen nicht dem Jagdrecht. In Deutschland gibt es in
einigen Ländern die Bestrebung den Wolf dem Jagdrecht zu unterstellen. Dies würde seinen
rechtlichen Status nicht ändern; der strenge Schutzstatus muss in beiden Ländern aufrecht
Polen hat ein zentralisiertes Managementsystem. Zuständig für das Wolfsmanagement sind
das Umweltministerium und die Generaldirektion für Umweltschutz. Der Föderalismus in
Deutschland bringt dagegen ein dezentralisiertes Managementsystem mit sich. Zuständig
sind hier die Naturschutzbehörden der Länder; in einigen Ländern wurden die
Zuständigkeiten sogar noch an die Behörden der Landkreise weiter delegiert. Entsprechend
des dezentralisierten Systems variieren die Kompensations- und Präventionssysteme von
Land zu Land. In Polen ist die Kompensation von wolfsverursachten Schäden an Haustieren
dagegen landesweit in einem nationalen Kompensationsgesetz geregelt.
Präventionsmaßnahmen werden in Polen in der Regel nur im Rahmen von zeitlich
befristeten Projekten finanziert.
Derzeit definiert Polen günstige Referenzwerte für Wölfe (günstiges Referenzgebiet und
günstige Referenzpopulation) für zwei biogeographische Regionen (kontinental und alpin).
Deutschland hat bisher keine Mindestziele definiert. Während Deutschland
Monitoringstandards für Großraubtiere definiert hat, existieren in Polen bisher keine solchen
Standards, sondern dort wurde sich vor allem auf die Entwicklung von Monitoringmethoden
und Indikatoren für Populationsstatus und Habitatqualität konzentriert. Eine robuste,
gemeinsame, grenzübergreifende Populationsschätzung ist daher zum gegenwärtigen
Zeitpunkt nicht möglich.
Auf Grund des übereinstimmenden rechtlichen Rahmens in Polen und Deutschland erscheint
ein gemeinsames grenzübergreifendes Management der mitteleuropäischen Population
machbar und sinnvoll. Ein gemeinsamer Populationslevel Management Plan ist
empfehlenswert. Während die Entwicklung eines solchen Plans jedoch einige Zeit in
Anspruch nehmen wird, empfehlen wir nachdrücklich einige Punkte möglichst zeitnah
Entwicklung gemeinsamer Monitoringstandards.
Verbesserung der Monitoringstrukturen in beiden Ländern.
Schaffung / Ernennung einer Institution, die die nationalen Daten zum Wolf über
innerstaatliche Grenzen hinweg kompiliert und in der Lage ist, bei Bedarf jederzeit
aktuelle Informationen zur nationalen Populationsgröße zur Verfügung zu stellen.
Jährliche gemeinsame, grenzübergreifende Schätzung der Populationsgröße und des
Vorkommensgebietes der mitteleuropäischen Population.
Entwicklung gemeinsamer günstiger Referenzwerte für die gesamte
Forschung zu Habitatnutzung und Territoriumsgröße in Deutschland und Westpolen,
um die Habitatmodelle, die als Grundlage für die Definition des günstigen
Referenzgebietes dienen, aktualisieren und robuste Modelle rechnen zu können.
Gemeinsames genetisches Monitoring.
Herstellung und Schutz eines gemeinsamen ökologischen Netzwerkes.
Neustrukturierung der deutsch-polnischen Wolfsarbeitsgruppe; einbeziehen der
Tschechischen Vertreter in die Arbeitsgruppe.
The return of the wolf (
) to the center of Europe is one of the few outstanding
success stories of species conservation during the last decades. In fact, the homecoming of
this large predator to a habitat so tremendously altered since its eradication so long ago is a
real sensation. There are few species that are able to cope with our crowded, human-
dominated European landscape. The wolf, of all species, made it back when we gave it a
chance. Its reception, however, has been guarded.
The comeback of the wolf in western Poland and (not only) eastern Germany during the last
10 years, its rise in numbers and subsequent spread, happened much faster than most
people anticipated. And, as usually happens when wolves live in close proximity to humans
they came into conflict with human activities, mostly with livestock farming and hunting.
These conflicts are often more pronounced in areas where large carnivores (LCs) have been
absent for several decades. For people living in these areas nature conservation is largely
associated with flowering landscapes, pretty birds and butterflies, but not necessarily with a
large, long-toothed predator. Although the majority of the public in Germany and Poland have
a positive attitude towards nature including the return of the wolf, hunters and farmers in
areas that have been newly occupied by wolves are generally not quite so enthusiastic about
this form of biodiversity enhancement.
In order to mitigate conflicts and achieve coexistence between wolves and humans, active
wolf management is needed. The wolves that have resettled in western Poland and eastern
Germany belong to the same population, the so called “German-Western Polish” population
INNELL et al. 2008); however, traditions and experiences with wolves differ between both
countries, as does the approach to their management. In Poland, where wolves have always
been present, at least in the east and south of the country, some form of wolf management
has always been applied, even without formalised management plans. In Germany, where
the wolf was exterminated in the middle of the 19
century, several of the Länder developed
regional wolf management plans within the first ten years of the wolf’s return. These regional
plans mainly aim at minimising conflicts on a local scale. However, wolves need large areas,
their territories in Poland and Germany may encompass up to 200 – 300 km², often
stretching across administrative borders either within or between countries. In order to
address this challenge management should not be constrained within administrative units but
conquer boundaries and focus on the biological unit that is the population (L
INNELL et al.
2008). This approach directs to a joint Polish-German management of the shared wolf
The issue of population level management was discussed by a group of conservation
authorities from both countries. In 2009, representatives from Polish and German authorities
and ministries as well as wolf experts from both countries met in Potsdam to exchange
information about wolves on both sides of the border. In consequence of this first meeting, a
bilateral wolf working group was established and all attendees agreed that wolves in western
Poland and eastern Germany belonged to a common population. In the following meetings,
several wolf issues mainly regarding wolf-livestock conflicts and monitoring were discussed.
Obviously the management issues in both countries are similar; however, the feasibility of
joint management remained unclear. At the third meeting in March 2011, the members of the
working group decided to commission a feasibility study for joint management of the common
Polish-German wolf population.
The mandate to compile a “Review of wolf management in Poland and Germany with
recommendation for future transboundary cooperation” was given to LUPUS Wildlife
Consultants (Ilka Reinhardt and Gesa Kluth) on condition that a wolf scientist from Poland
was engaged as a co-author especially for the chapters outlining the Polish situation. As Dr.
Sabina Nowak and Dr. Robert W. Mysłajek from the Association for Nature “Wolf” have been
responsible for monitoring wolf recovery in western Poland since 2001, and Dr. Nowak is a
member of the German-Polish wolf working group they were invited as co-authors of the
report. The elaborations regarding the wolf situation and management in Poland and
Germany were made by the authors of the respective countries, while LUPUS was
additionally responsible for the chapters outlining the European situation. Chapter 6.3 and 7
are the result of a working meeting and reflect the common perspective of the team of
authors. Wherever perceptions differ this is indicated.
The term “German-West Polish” was created a few years ago by the authors of the
“Guidelines for population level management plans for Large Carnivores in Europe” (L
et al. 2008). At that time, only a few wolf family groups were scattered throughout western
Poland and eastern Germany (in Germany it is often referred to as the West Polish – East
German population). This name is too complicated and no longer does the current wolf range
justice. Meanwhile, in Poland, wolves belonging to this population have also settled in the
middle of the country, and, in Germany, they have started to spread into the western part. It
is just a matter of time that this population will also extend into the Czech Republic.
Therefore, instead, we recommend using the name Central European population.
3. Conservation status of wolf populations in Europe, Poland and
3.1.1 Historical outline
Just a few centuries ago, the wolf roamed throughout Europe. Human persecution
dramatically changed wolf distribution patterns, and between the 17
large carnivores were driven to extinction in many parts of Europe. With the decline in many
areas of wild ungulate, either through hunting or competition with livestock, the already
persecuted wolf was forced to subsist on domestic animals, further exacerbating human
OITANI 2003). At the beginning of the 20
century, Central and Northern Europe
were almost wolf-free. One last resort in Western Europe was France. In 1883, the hunting
bag was still about 1,386 wolves (V
ICTORE AND LARIVIERE 1980
BOITANI 2003), but just a
few decades later, in 1927, the last wolf was killed in France (B
The remaining populations in South and Eastern Europe declined even further. Wolves did
not survive in these areas because habitat requirements were best or human densities
especially low; rather, wolf extermination was less well-organized and persistent (Boitani
1995). Populations in Italy and Poland (which today number several hundred animals) were
down to only 100 individuals or even fewer (Z
IMEN AND BOITANI 1975; OKARMA 1993). In
some populations, such as the Italian and the Iberian ones, poison was thought to be the
main reason for the rapid decline in the middle of the last century. A few decades later, these
populations too had practically vanished. Around the 1960s, the wolf population in Europe
was at an all time low (B
OITANI 2000). However, public attitudes changed and interest in
wildlife conservation including large carnivores began to grow. Populations recovered when
the wolf was put under partial or strict protection in many European countries. Of course, this
recovery was not restricted to the countries were they had survived but spilled over into
areas where they had been eradicated decades or more before. Recovery of wolf
populations was not only permitted by political circumstances, it was also favoured by
environmental conditions. As people left rural areas to settle in urban centres wild ungulate
populations spread and increased (B
OITANI AND CIUCCI 2009).
Changes in number and distribution of wolves in the 20
in century Poland
In Poland, the legal status of the wolf changed in the 20
century from pest, to game animal
to protected species. Although wolves were persecuted in Poland for many years, they were
never totally extirpated. In the 20
century, the range and number of wolves fluctuated from a
very low number limited to the eastern and south-eastern most part of the country to wide
distribution, when all forests of eastern Poland, the whole of the Polish Carpathian Mts. and
most large forests of western Poland were occupied by wolves (W
OLSAN et al.1992). The
sparse distribution and low density of wolves in western Poland, which was regularly
recorded, resulted both from a longer distance to the source population in eastern Europe
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2004a) and a more efficient removal of this species from forests west of
the river Vistula.
In 1927, the status of the wolf switched from pest to game species with a year-round hunting
season; however, no distinctive changes in population size or distribution were recorded until
World War II. The largest population range and number of this species in the 20
was recorded after World War II at the turn of the 40s and 50s, when these predators had re-
colonized most of the forests east and west of the river Vistula. This was possible due to a
still existing connection with the source wolf population in eastern Europe. At the time,
wolves were reported from all large forest tracts in north-eastern Poland but also from many
woodlands of western Poland. Wolves were also recorded in the Karkonosze Mts, the
highest part of the Sudety Mts. (W
OLSAN et al. 1992; BRZUSKI AND OKARMA 1997, NOWAK
AND MYSŁAJEK 2011). The population size was estimated at about 1,000 wolves (OKARMA
The situation changed radically in the mid-fifties, when the legal status of the wolf was
changed and a large scale anti-wolf campaign introduced in Poland (K
Surprisingly, despite systematic persecution, wolves still persisted in the forests of eastern
and western Poland, and some of these individuals roamed to Germany, crossing the rivers
Neisse and Oder. This was confirmed by wolf culls there at the onset of the sixties (B
1993). When wolf persecution stopped at the beginning of the seventies, the population had
been reduced to only several dozen individuals, and wolves had been exterminated from
most forest ranges of western Poland (P
UCEK AND RACZYŃSKI 1983, WOLSAN et al. 1992,
RZUSKI AND OKARMA 1997, KUREK 2002). In 1975, the wolf again became a game species in
Poland, with a four months protection season in western Poland. In the late 70s and early
80s, the range expanded as restrictions on their harvest came into place, but the recovery of
wolf populations was probably also helped by the on-going economic crisis, which caused a
significant reduction in road traffic, and, consequently, low mortality of animals on roads.
Fig. 1: Forest tracks in Poland where wolves were recorded in the first half of the 20th century. 1 –
Cedynia forest, 2 – Goleniów forest, 3 – Drawsko forest, 4 – Drawa forest, 5 – Koszalin forest,
6 – Słupsk forest, 7 – Lubsko forest, 8 – Rzepin forest, 9 – Zielona Góra forest, 10 – Gorzów
forest, 11 – Sława forest, 12 – Lower Silesian forest, 13 – Sudety Mountains, 14 – Milicz
forest, 15 – Tuchola forest, 16 – Noteć forest, 17 – Wałcz forest, 18 – Bydgoszcz forest, 19 –
Stobrawa forest, 20 – Racibórz forest, 21 – Lubliniec forest, 22 – Pszczyna forest, 23 –
Silesian Beskid Mountains, 24 – Żywiecki Beskid Mountains, 25 – Włoszczowa forest, 26 –
Święty Krzyż forest, 27 – Sieradz forest, 28 – Elbląg forest, 29 – Napiwoda-Ramuki forest, 30
– Pisz forest, 31 – Borecka forest, 32 – Romincka forest, 33 – Biebrza river valley, 34 –
Mielnik forest, 35 – Augustów forest, 36 – Knyszyn forest, 37 – Białowieża Primeval Forest, 38
– Kozienice forest, 39 – Janów forest, 40 – Parczew forest, 41 – Solska forest, 42 – Roztocze
forest, 43 – Sobibór forest, 44 – Sandomierz forest, 45 – Bieszczady Mountains, 46 –
Przemyśl foothills, 47 – Tatra Mountains. Map: AfN “Wolf”.
Until the mid-nineties, the presence of wolves was recorded in western Poland in the
Goleniów and Cedynia forests, the Wałcz forest, the Gorzów forest, the Tuchola forest, the
Bydgoszcz forest, the Drawsko forest, the Wałcz forest, the Noteć forest, the Sława forest,
the Rzepin forest, the Zielona Góra forest and the Lower Silesian forest (W
OLSAN et al. 1992;
OWAK AND MYSŁAJEK 2011). Despite the fact that wolves became protected in the Gorzów
and the Poznan provinces (in 1992), and measures were undertaken for their conservation in
other provinces (N
OWAK 1996, SKROBAŁA AND BERESZYŃSKI 1997, BRZUSKI AND OKARMA
1997), they were still hunted west of the river Vistula. Between 1982 and 1992 at least 30
individuals were shot by hunters there (B
ERESZYŃSKI 1998; NOWAK AND MYSŁAJEK 2011).
After the wolf was put under a strict protection regime in most of the country in 1995,
including the entire western and central parts of Poland, these predators still only occurred in
the large forest complexes east of the river Vistula and in the greater part of the Carpathian
Mountains. Although there were suitable habitats and abundant wild prey, wolves were very
rare in the western part of the country, where only small, isolated packs or lone individuals
were observed. The main reason for their absence was high, human-related mortality:
wolves were killed illegally by hunters and poachers, but they were also hit by cars on busy
Finally, in 1998, the species became protected in the whole Poland, leading to a gradual
increase of its range in eastern Poland.
Historical outline Germany
In Germany, wolves were eradicated in the 19
century. The last wolf in Bavaria was killed in
1847, and by 1899 they had completely disappeared in the Rhine region (Zimen 1978) and
the very last wolf – a disperser – was shot in Saxony in 1904, where wolves had already
been absent for about 100 years (R
After 1945, single dispersing wolves repeatedly showed up in Germany. In every decade
after the Second World War, wolves migrating from Poland were shot in Germany. At least
19 wolves were killed between 1945 and 1990 (R
EINHARDT AND KLUTH 2007). Most of them
appeared in the north-east of Germany. Preventing resettlement of the wolf was the
pronounced goal of the German Democratic Republic, while in the Federal Republic of
Germany, the species had been strictly protected, albeit absent since 1980 (R
After German reunification, the wolf became a protected species in the whole country.
Although protected on paper, at least six wolves were shot in the 1990s. It was not until the
end of the 90s that two wolves succeeded in establishing a territory in Germany. In 2000, the
first litter of wild born wolf pups was confirmed on active military grounds in Saxony close to
the Polish border (R
EINHARDT AND KLUTH 2007). This was the starting point for
recolonalisation (see chapter 3.3.1).
3.1.2 Current distribution and conservation status in Europe
In the Action Plan for the Conservation of Wolves (
) in Europe (B
the wolf population trend for most countries is given as stable or positive. Following centuries
of persecution, this is a remarkable result for a species. The reason for this comeback can
only partly be explained by the current legal status. To a great extent, recovery has to do with
the enormous adaptability of wolves. Wolves can basically survive wherever they can find a
source of food, and this can be of various forms, from wild animals, to livestock and garbage.
The only limiting factor seems to be human persecution. As a result, the conservation of
wolves is not so much an ecological issue as a social one (S
ALVATORY AND LINNELL 2005).
Wolves have a greater potential for reproduction and expansion than other large carnivores.
This means, given a chance, wolves are better able to regain lost areas than many other
species. This process can currently be observed in former wolf-free Central Europe.
In 2008, L
INNELL et al. identified 10 wolf populations in Europe (table 1). Two of them, the
Sierra Morena population and the population in Germany / western Poland were classified as
critically endangered. Table 1 lists the population size and trend of the wolf in single
European countries as well as the IUCN red listing from 2007 (L
INNELL et al. 2008). Most of
these data are now more than five years old. Whereever possible we have used more recent
Wolves live in family groups (packs). Since the number of pack members changes over the
year and a variable part of the population is made up of dispersing wolves or floaters that are
not organized in packs, the actual number of wolves in a population is very difficult to assess.
Some countries such as France and Sweden or provinces like the Piedmont have a very
intense monitoring system in place, with detailed genetic sampling taking place every year.
With the help of capture-recapture analysis it is indeed possible to come up with a robust
estimate of wolf numbers (including confident intervals). Where this effort is not made it is
much easier and more reliable to give minimum number of wolf packs rather than individual
numbers. Still, most population sizes in table 1 are quoted as individual numbers. We would
like to stress that many of these numbers are only a rough estimate. What is indicated as
population trend is often more likely the trend of the distribution area. Without implementation
of a robust monitoring system it is difficult to detect a change in population trend. It is more
likely that a change in the area occupied by wolves will become conspicuous. In addition, the
number of reproductive units (packs / scent marking pairs) has a much greater explanatory
power than the number of individuals.
A review of the status of wolves and other large carnivores in Europe is currently in
Definition of a population
Nowadays, the population concept is part of general education: a group of individuals of the
same species that live in the same area and can potentially interbreed with each other.
However, concepts are developed by humans to make the world more concrete and clear to
understand. This does not mean that any natural entity can be pigeonholed. As for
populations that are not totally isolated from each other it is often hard to tell where one
population ends and the other begins. L
INNELL et al. (2008) give an overview of the different
concepts of populations and population viabilities.
For purposes of large carnivore conservation in Europe, L
INNELL et al. (2008) operationalised
the population concept as follows: Populations can be viewed as a nested hierarchy of
entities. The term “metapopulation” refers on a large scale to the entirety of individuals that
share a broadly similar genetic structure. The distribution of the metapopulation may be
spatially discontinuous, but there should be sufficient (potential) connectivity to permit the
dispersal of individuals that ensures gene flow and some degree of demographic
INNELL et al. (2008) assume that this may be on the level of a few individuals
per generation. B
OITANI AND CIUCCI (2009) propose to consider European wolves as one
large metapopulation. This clearly makes sense for the continental conservation approach
the authors ask for. It is also reasonable in relation to the population concept. On an
evolutionary scale, isolation of the single European wolf populations (see below) is very short
termed. Considering the overall positive population trends (L
INNELL et al. 2008; BOITANI AND
CIUCCI 2009) and the dispersal abilities of wolves (MECH AND BOITANI 2003), it is reasonable
to propose that most populations will be to some degree connected to neighbouring
populations within the next decades.
The metapopulation contains a number of “subpopulations” that consist of individuals
reasonable continuous distribution
. These individuals interact with much greater frequency
such that the demography of the group is mainly influenced by birth and death rather than by
immigration of animals from neighbouring subpopulations. These subpopulations are what
we usually call populations and what the Habitat Directive refers to (Linnell et al. 2008).
Within a subpopulation (hereafter called population) there may also be some fine scaled
spatial units or clusters. L
INNELL et al. (2008) refer to it as “population-segments”. The
Lusation part of the German-West Polish wolf population is such a cluster or “population
Populations are units where a given species has a more or less continuous distribution such
that individuals can interact often enough to constitute a demographic unit (Linnell et al.
Tab. 1: Wolf populations in Europe and number of (wolves) packs in European countries (Source:
INNELL et al. 2008; BOITANI AND CIUCCI 2009). Where available, more recent data were used:
for Karelia K
OJOLA (2011); for the Alps MARBOUTIN (2011) and MARUCCO (2011), for Germany
EINHARDT AND KLUTH (unpubl. data), for Poland National wolf census 2009, Western Poland
OWAK AND MYSŁAJEK (2011, unpubl. data), for Lithuania BALCIAUSKA 2008, 2010; for
RONSON (2011), for Belorussia Belorussian Wolf MP (2009), for Slovakia
Friends of the Earth Czech Republic (FoE CR 2011).
of packs (wolves)
IUCN red listing
Spain ? (2,500) stable
(protected south of the river
Portugal ? (300) stable fully protected
? (< 50)
stable fully protected
fully protected (removal of single
Switzerland single individuals -
fully protected (removal of single
? (600 - 800)
? (60 - 80)
? (130 - 170)
protected (hunting quota)
? (800 – 1,000)
no protection (bounty)
? (900 – 1,200)
protected (legal killing can be
Bulgaria ? (1,000) stable
game species (hunting permitted
all year, bounties)
? (500 – 700)
fully protected only south of the
? (3,000 – 4,000)
- (> 10)
- (2 – 5)
? (252 - 410)
51 (210 – 260)
77 (270 - 360)
? (100 – 150)
? (200 – 300)
? (300 – 500)
? (500 – 2,000)
? (10,000 – 20,000)
Germany 14 (?) increasing fully protected
24 (100 - 110)
protected (hunting quota)
(227 - 270)
fully protected (in 2010 and
2011 hunting quota)
protected within zoning system
thereof 2 cross-border packs
thereof 10 cross-border packs
thereof 2 cross-border packs
kept stable due to management measures
In the following section, we will give a short overview of the wolf status in countries
neighbouring Poland and Germany, beginning in the north and continuing clockwise. Unless
stated otherwise the information is taken from
SALVATORI AND LINNELL (2005).
Russia / Kaliningrad
No information available.
The wolf population in Lithuania is estimated to number 200 – 300 individuals distributed
throughout the country. Since there is no scientific population survey in place, the official
numbers may be misleading. The wolf is designated a game species in Lithuania with a
yearly hunting quota (on average 40 wolves) and a hunting season from 1
December to 1
April. Currently, a project of the Wolf Management Plan is being prepared for the Ministry of
the Environment proposing lethal control in order to limit the population number to 200
According to the Wolf Management Plan (WMP) of the Republic of Belarus (2009), from
2006 – 2008 the population size was 195 packs. The wolf can be legally hunted all year
round and methods can be used such as destroying small pups at the den site. Belarus plans
a sharp population reduction with the goal of 75 packs as the “optimum” number, equating to
a population decrease of more than 60%. Such a reduction is bound to have a strong
negative impact on those portions of the Baltic wolf population bordering Belorussia.
Implementation of the management plan should have taken place between 2011 and 2012.
The Polish Minister of Environment has expressed his concern to Belarus and to the EU that
this will have an adverse effect on the conservation status and pose a threat to stability of the
Polish portions of the Baltic wolf population. Currently the Belarus Ministry has presented
comments and explanations in a statement to the Polish Ministry, with very minor changes in
the WMP. The Plan has been approved by the Board of the Ministry of Natural Resources
and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus; thus it is under implementation.
The wolf population in the Ukraine is estimated to number around 2,000 individuals.
However, there is no scientific survey in place, and the population number is therefore based
on hunter estimates. The species is still considered a pest species and bounties are paid for
each wolf culled. In spite of having ratified the Bern Convention in 1996, with exceptions, a
National law (623/2427 of 1997) still supports the eradication of wolves in the Ukraine.
The official number for 2004 - 2006 for Slovakia was 252 – 410 wolves.
-canis-lupus.xmlandconv=rem_24). Except for some areas where the species is protected
the whole year round, in Slovakia, the wolf is a game species, with the hunting period lasting
October to 31
January,. A robust monitoring system is not in place. The Ministry of
Agriculture, Environment and Regional Development defined a hunting quota of 150 wolves
(FoE CR 2011) for the 2010/2011 hunting season, which represents 37 – 59.5 % (ø 48 %) of
the official population estimation. This is certainly not a sustainable harvest (
FULLER et al.
2003) and will affect wolf populations and occurrences in neighbouring countries. The
Slovakian portion of the Carpathian wolf population shares a stretch of 540 km with the
Polish population segment, which is strictly protected. Wolves living in transboundary packs
are fully protected on the northern side of their territory but can be hunted in the southern
part. The wolves in Slovakia would be the main source for population spread into the Czech
Republic and Hungary.
Wolves migrating from adjacent Poland and Slovakia began to re-colonize the very east of
the Czech Republic. However, currently there are only 2 – 5 single individuals (M.
pers. communication). Overhunting in Slovakia is assumed to be the main reason for this
stagnation in wolf re-colonisation. Although wolves have reproduced in Germany about 30
km from the German - Czech border since 2000, to date, there is no single confirmation of a
wolf on the Czech side of Saxony. Occasionally, signs of wolf are reported in the Šumava
Mountains on the Bavarian-Austrian border. However, so far, there is no proof for permanent
establishment of wolves in this area. Wolves are strictly protected throughout the whole year
in the Czech Republic, although listed as game species under the country’s Act on Hunting.
Wolves were eradicated in Austria about 150 years ago. Since 2000 there has been an
increase in wolf reports. In 2010, 8 – 10 individuals from three different populations where
confirmed in Austria via genetic sampling - mostly from livestock kills (G.
communication). Wolves from the Dinaric, the Italian or Western Alpine and from the
Carpathian population could be distinguished in the genetic samples. In 2011, only two
wolves from the Italian / West Alpine population could be confirmed (G.
communication) leading to the question of what happened to the others. At the beginning of
2012, a radio collared wolf from Slovenia was observed wandering through Austria. The wolf
is strictly protected by national nature conservation law and at the same time listed as a
game species with year round protection in all the Länder except Vienna.
In Switzerland, there are only individual wolves originating from the west alpine population.
This status – single wolves, no reproduction - has been about the same for more than ten
years. In 2011, eight individuals were confirmed by genetic analysis, some of them for the
second or third year in a row. Since 1998, 38 different individuals, seven of them female,
have been genetically confirmed in Switzerland
even without a regular wolf
monitoring in place. Given this level of immigration and proximity to the expanding west
alpine population, the absence of any reproduction is difficult to explain by biological
reasons. According to the federal law on hunting and protection of mammals and birds, the
wolf is considered a strictly protected species in Switzerland. However, the Swiss Wolf
Management Plan allows elimination of “problem” individuals, e.g. wolves killing too many
livestock. So far, 12 permits have been granted and seven wolves have been killed legally
Currently, Switzerland has submitted a proposal to have the Bern Convention changed to
that effect that individual parties will be allowed not only to make reservations prior to but
also subsequent to adopting the Bern Convention. When adopting the Bern Convention in
1980, Switzerland did not made reservations regarding the wolf. If the Bern Convention
accepts amendment of article 22 of the Bern Convention, Switzerland will make a reservation
to allow the wolf to be hunted (BAFU Press release 16.11.2011,
In 1992, the first two wolves migrated into the Parc national du Mercantour in France
OUARD AND LEQUETTE 1993). They originated from the Italian population that had spread all
over the Apennine arch finally reaching the Piedmont and the Maritime Alps (B
In 2010 there were 19 packs (including 2 cross-border territories with the Piedmont) in the
French Alps (M
ARBOUTIN 2011). The population is increasing and spreading further, with
dispersing individuals turning up far away from the next reproductive pack in the Massif
Central or in the Pyrenees in the 1990ies (V
ALIERE et al. 2003).
In France, the wolf is a protected species. The Ministry of the Environment is in charge of
wolf management, together with the Ministry of Agriculture. A great deal of effort is put into
mitigating wolf–livestock conflicts. In 2010 more than 1 million Euros were paid in
compensation and more than 6 million Euros invested in prevention (most of this is spent on
subsidising extra herding; M
ARBOUTIN 2011). While the Ministry of the Environment is
responsible for compensation, the Ministry of Agriculture is in charge of prevention.
The French Wolf Action Plan (2004) foresees derogation for the killing of single wolves in
depredation hot spots. Such hot spots are defined as 10 – 20 attacks to a single flock with up
to 80 livestock killed during one grazing season. If attacks continue despite improvement of
prevention measures and although the shepherd has been given permission to use a shot
gun to shoot a wolf close to the flock in self defence, permission can be granted to kill one
wolf in the area of the resident pack. Between 2004 and 2010, 19 permits were issued and
six wolves were killed.
After having been absent for more than 100 years, Belgium’s first wolf was confirmed by
camera trap in 2011. Belgium can expect to receive single dispersing wolves from the west
alpine population as well as from the Central European population spreading westwards from
eastern Germany and western Poland. The wolf is a strictly protected species in Belgium.
In 2011, there were rumours of a wolf in the east of the Netherlands. Some people took
photographs of an animal thought to be a wolf. Evaluation of these pictures by LUPUS
Wildlife Consulting could neither rule out nor confirm that it was indeed a wolf. (SCALP
category C3). The wolf is strictly protected in the Netherlands and its return is expected.
Authorities and NGOs are beginning to prepare and are increasingly asking for information
and advice from Germany.
The last wolf was already killed in Denmark in 1772 (B
OITANI 1995). In the last years, there
have been repeated rumours of wolf sightings, but so far none of these could be confirmed.
However, it would not be impossible for a single dispersing animal to reach the country to the
north of Germany. In 2007, a young wolf was killed in a car accident in Schleswig-Holstein,
about 110 km from the Danish border. The wolf is a strictly protected species in Denmark.
3.2.1 Overview on re-colonalisation of wolves in Poland
In the first five years of the 21
century, wolves slowly started to recover forests west of the
river Vistula, where they had been extirpated many years previously. Data collected during
the National Wolf and Lynx Census co-ordinated by the Mammal Research Institute of the
Polish Academy of Science from Białowieża (MRI PAS) and the Association for Nature “Wolf”
(AfN Wolf) revealed that in 2000 / 2001 wolves mainly inhabited the north-eastern, eastern
and southern (Carpathian Mts.) parts of Poland. Isolated occurrences in the large forest
complexes of western Poland near the German-Polish border comprised only a few
individuals. The number of wolf packs was estimated at about 110, and the total number of
wolves at about 550 individuals for the whole country. Mean pack size ranged from 5.5
wolves in the Carpathians, to 4 in north-east Poland, and 2.4 in the western part of the
2002a). Hosting about 200 individuals, the Carpathian Mts and
Carpathian foothills offered the biggest refuge for Polish wolves. This population was partly
shared with Slovakia and the Ukraine. The other main wolf areas were the large forest
complexes of north-eastern Poland, where about 160-190 wolves occurred, although some
wolf packs had transboundary territories with Belarus and Russia. During the next four years,
the results of the census revealed an increase in population range and numbers in the
forests east of the the river Vistula and a very slow development of the wolf population in
areas west of the the river Vistula.
Since 2001, the Association for Nature “Wolf” has monitored wolf recovery in western
Poland. It started by surveying forests within a 100 km zone along the Polish-German border.
In subsequent years, these surveys were expanded to all larger forests that had been
inhabited by wolves in the past, or which were suitable for large carnivores due to their size
and wild ungulate density. The first wolf family groups to rear pups were recorded in the
Wałcz forest (2002), the Bydgoszcz forest and the Rzepin forest (2004), the Tuchola forest
(2005) and the Święty Krzyż forest (2006). From 2007, wolves started to recover the Lower
Silesian forest (near the Muskau Heath) from its eastern-most edge (area of the Przemków
Heath), where the first wolf family group was observed. In 2008, a wolf pack successfully
bred for the first time in the Notec forest (NW of Poznań). In 2009, resident wolf family
groups were also recorded in the Cedynia forest (near the Unteres Odertal NP), the Drawsko
military training grounds, and the Zielona Góra forest (near Lubsko and Forst). In 2010,
subsequent packs were reported from the Drawa forest and the Słupsk forest.
The most dynamic development of the wolf population was observed in the following forest
tracts: the Lower Silesian forest, the Noteć forest and the Wałcz forest. During the 10 years
of survey, a short-term presence (lasting 1 or 2 years) of wolves was also reported in many
3.2.2 Current wolf distribution and population numbers in Poland
According to results obtained by the National Wolf Census in 2009, the number of wolf packs
living in the whole of Poland was estimated at between 129 - 144 (mean 135), and the
number of wolves at 543 - 687 (mean 615) individuals
In 2009, the biggest number of wolf packs was recorded in the lowlands of north-eastern
Poland (51 - 56 packs, 201 - 264 wolves) and eastern Poland (16 - 21 packs, 66 - 95
wolves). The second most densely inhabited region was the Polish part of the Carpathan
Mts., where 47 - 51 packs lived, comprising about 209 - 254 wolves. In 2009, the wolf
population in western Poland was estimated at 15 - 16 packs and 67 - 78 wolves. The only
region from which wolves were not reported was the Sudety Mts. (south-western Poland).
However, since data were not provided by all of the forest divisions with wolf observations,
these numbers should be considered as minimal. Since 2010 and 2011, data on the wolf
distribution in Poland, but not population estimates has been available on the web site of the
National Wolf Census
According to this
information all favourable wolf habitats east of the river Vistula, which together cover about
are inhabited by wolves (JĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2008). Habitats include the large
lowland forests, the Przemysl foothills and the whole of the Carpathian Mts. According to the
monitoring conducted by AfN “Wolf” in western Poland, at least 22 resident wolf family
groups and 2 scent marking pairs comprising 100 - 110 animals occured there at the
beginning of 2012 (N
OWAK AND MYSŁAJEK 2011, NOWAK AND MYSŁAJEK, unpubl.). Wolves
were present in all large forest tracts of western Poland. Six family groups were confirmed in
the Lower Silesian forest adjacent to the Muskau Heath on the German side. Recent genetic
studies have proved that new packs were founded there by wolves dispersing from north-
eastern Poland and from Germany (Saxony) (Czarnomska et al. 2013, Nowak and Mysłajek,
unpubl.). The proximity of the German wolf population has sped up the recovery process.
Three packs have been recorded in the Noteć forest, while the Wałcz and the Bydgoszcz
forests are inhabited by at least two packs each; in all probability, new packs will soon form.
Interestingly, very little information about lone wolves has been collected from the Sudety
Mts. Altogether at the end of 2011 the wolf number was 750 - 800 wolves throughout the
whole of Poland (N
OWAK AND MYSŁAJEK, unpubl.).
Fig. 2: Wolf distribution in Poland at the beginning of 2012 (after: Nowak and Mysłajek 2011, updated,
and National Wolf Census
3.2.3 Polish wolf population from a continental perspective
According to the Guidelines for Population Management Plans for Large Carnivores (L
et al. 2008), wolves living in Poland belong to three European wolf populations: the Baltic –
consisting of altogether 3,600 wolves (together with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia,
Belarus and Ukraine), the Carpathian – 4,000 wolves (together with Czech Republic,
Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Ukraine and Serbia), and the only recently founded Central
European (German-western Polish) population. Analysis of wolf DNA has revealed that the
Central European population was founded from individuals originating from the Baltic
population in north-eastern Poland. Individuals from the Carpathian wolf population differ
significantly genetically from other wolves in Poland. Thus, the classification of wolves from
north-eastern and southern Poland into two separate populations by Linnell et al. 2008 has
been secured by genetic results (P
ILOT et al. 2006, CZARNOMSKA et al. 2013). So far, there is
little genetic exchange between the Carpathian and the other two populations. The Baltic and
the Carpathian populations have a status of Least Concern. The wolf population in western
Poland, together with wolves inhabiting eastern Germany has been classified as Critically
Endangered. Despite the significant increase of number and range of wolves in the forests of
western Poland, the population is still too small and scattered to survive in isolation in the
long term. Thus, maintaining the connectivity with the more numerous and more genetically
diverse Baltic population, as well as re-establishing a connection with the Carpathian Mts. is
an important issue.
3.2.4 Transboundry wolf populations
Poland shares a substantial part of its wolf population with neighbouring countries: Russia
(Kaliningrad province), Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Slovakia and Germany. As Polish
borderline runs through large forests, a large number of wolf packs have transborder
territories, e.g. in the Carpathian Mts. (N
OWAK et al. 2008, FINĎO AND CHOVANCOVÁ 2004), in
north-eastern and eastern Poland (O
KARMA et al. 1998b, JĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2002) and
probably also in western Poland (N
OWAK AND MYSŁAJEK 2011). According to wolf pack
distribution (National Wolf Census 2009
Poland shares at least 21 transborder packs with Slovakia, 9 packs with the Ukraine, 9 - 10
packs with Belarus, 1 - 2 packs with Lithuania, and 2 - 3 packs with Russia (Kaliningrad
province). Altogether this gives 42 - 45 packs and about 30 % of the whole Polish wolf
population. There might also be transboundary wolf territories along the Polish - German
border (e.g. in the Lower Silesian forest), but further DNA analyses are necessary to confirm
The largest number of transboundary packs inhabit the Carpathian Mountains where 25 - 26
wolf family groups are shared between Poland and neighbouring countries (Slovakia - 21 and
Ukraine – 4 - 5), and almost all Polish packs have territories within a 23 km zone of the
border. In a study by J
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. (2001), 23 km was calculated to be the mean daily
movement distance for wolves. In the area along the Polish - Belarussian border, 9 packs
maintain transborder territories, and another 11 Polish wolf family groups live in radius of 23
km from the Belarussian border, which taken together make up about 15 % of the whole
Polish wolf population.
3.3.1 Overview of re-colonalisation of wolves in Germany
From the first reproduction in 2000 to the most recent in 2011, 43 litters comprising more
than 170 wolf pups have been confirmed in Germany (R
EINHARDT AND KLUTH unpubl. data).
Establishment of a second wolf pack in 2005 marked the starting point for rapid population
growth (Fig. 3). The spread of the wolf population is not as fast. The reproductive core of the
German population part is still Lusatia, the region in the north-east of Saxony and south-east
of Brandenburg where it all started.
In 2009, the first reproduction was confirmed outside the Lusatian core area in Saxony-
Anhalt. In 2011, three reproductive events were already documented in this area, making the
development of a second reproductive core in eastern Saxony-Anhalt and western
Fig. 3: Development of wolf population size in Germany. © LUPUS.
3.3.2 Current distribution and population number of wolves in Germany
The German portion of the Central European population contains two population segments:
one in Lusatia with direct connection to the wolves in the Lower Silesian forest, consisting
2011 of 11 wolf packs on the German side (and six more in Poland; number of
transboundary packs not known), and a second population segment comprising three wolf
families located about 120 km to the north-east. In addition, several other occurrences of
mostly single resident wolves have been confirmed.
Altogether, in 2011, at least 14 wolf packs were living three German Länder (Saxony,
Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt) (Fig. 4). In two more Länder (Mecklenburg-Pomerania and
Lower Saxony), single resident wolves or scent marking pairs were confirmed in 2011, and
wolves were verified in four more Länder in the years before (but not in 2011).
Telemetry and genetic analyses have proved that wolves from the Lusatian wolf area have
dispersed east a straight line distance of 800 km to Belarus (R
EINHARDT AND KLUTH 2011) or
more than 350 km to the west to Lower Saxony (H
ARMS, REINHARDT AND KLUTH, SMUL,
LFWKN unpupl. data). However, wolves settling near their parent’s territory are clearly the
more successful reproducers. Most breeding wolves in Lusatia are closely related to each
ARMS, REINHARDT AND KLUTH, unpubl. data). So far, the fraction and reproductive
success of long distance dispersers are unknown (R
EINHARDT AND KLUTH 2011).
Fig. 4: Wolf occurrence in Germany, 2011/2012. Map: LUPUS.
3.3.3 Wolves in Germany from a continental perspective
Germany harbours a fraction of the Central European wolf population. The population range
is divided into two segments more than 100 km apart, and several small occurrences. In the
last years, two wolves originating from the Alpine wolf population were confirmed in
Germany. The rapid development of this population not only means immigration of single
individuals, but that expansion of the Alpine wolf population into the south of Germany is
likely to happen in the near future.
3.4 Threats to wolves
3.4.1 Threats to wolves in Europe
Where human influence is low or absent wolves die of a variety of natural causes, including
starvation, accidents (e.g. with prey animals), disease and intraspecific strife (F
ULLER et al.
2003). However, mortality in wolves living in cultural landscapes is largely anthropogenic in
cause (see below).
BOITANI wrote in 1995 “the most important issue in wolf conservation is public opinion”.
Ten years later S
ALVATORI AND LINNELL (2005) stated: “Human acceptance of wolves
appears to be a major problem in many areas, especially in areas where wolves have
returned after an absence. This lack of acceptance is linked to many different conflicts,
including livestock depredation, competition with hunters, predation on domestic dogs, fear
and wider social conflicts for which wolves become symbols. It is important to not
underestimate these conflicts, or to believe that they are only linked to livestock.
Understanding the reasons why acceptance varies so much between countries could be
important for finding solutions.” Consequently one of the major threats to wolves in Central
Europe is poaching.
is a widespread problem in many countries with very diverse socio-economic
backgrounds. There is a clear need for effective education and law enforcement throughout
wolf range. The sometimes chronic lack of control over poaching greatly reduces
management flexibility through legal means because of the need to account for this
ALVATORI AND LINNELL 2005). Poaching is not a phenomenon in protected
populations only. In Spain, poaching makes up to 50% of the known mortality in areas where
wolves can be hunted (north of the river Duero), while in areas where wolves are protected
almost 100% of the detected mortalities are due to illegal killing (J.
C. BLANCO on 17
2010 at the 2nd Wolf Working Group meeting of the DG environment in Brussels).
In Finland, the wolf population increased between 1996 and 2006 from four to 25 packs
(excluding transboundary packs), or a total number of about 250 wolves. Four years later,
the population was down to 160 individuals. In April 2011, there were only six packs left in
Finland (excluding transboundary packs). This extreme population decline occurred despite a
yearly hunting quota of about 15 % of the population that was meant to raise acceptance for
this predator (K
OJOLA 2011). The hunting quota by itself cannot explain the dramatic
shrinkage of the population (see F
ULLER et al. 2003), especially not the vanishing of 75 % of
In Scandinavia, poaching accounted for about half of the total wolf mortality and more than
two thirds of all poaching remained undetected (L
IBERG et al 2011). The authors of the study
demonstrate that without poaching during the past decade, the population would have been
almost four times as large in 2009 (990 instead of 263 wolves).
Thus, in many European countries poaching is one of the main threats to wolf populations. It
can reach magnitudes that may even reverse the conservation effort like in Finland.
Certainly, most of the poaching is cryptic (L
IBERG et al. 2011). However, even if culprits are
known law enforcement is very weak, thus actually taking conservation laws ad absurdum.
In some countries like Belarus or Slovakia, legal
still is or has again become an
issue (see chapter 3.1.1). Such countries may act as a sink for neighbouring population
parts. Management fragmentation is therefore another threat that can hinder or even reverse
the conservation efforts of single states. We would like to stress that in numerous cases
population estimates are no more than an educated guess because many of the countries
listed in table 1 lack a robust monitoring. Therefore, a negative population trend, especially in
large populations, would only be noticed if it were immense. As long as the distribution area
is not on the decline, a negative population trend can only be detected with a sophisticated
monitoring approach. Besides management fragmentation, lack of a robust monitoring,
especially in regions with large populations that act as a source for others could become a
Fragmentation and isolation
is one of the greatest threats, particularly to small wolf
populations. Only a few centuries ago, wolves roamed across Europe. Today, only the large
populations in the east (Dinarian, Balcan, Baltic and Fenno-Karelian population) are still
somehow connected, while the others are to a large extent isolated from each other. The
extent of this isolation questions the long term viability of especially the small populations.
Inbreeding depression was proved to be severe in the Scandinavian wolf population (L
et al. 2005). The immigration rate from the neighbouring Fenno-Karelian population is low
since wolves dispersing through the reindeer husbandry area in northern Fenno-Scandia
face a high risk of being killed either legally or illegally (K
OJOLA 2006, 2009; LIBERG et al.
In many areas of Europe, road construction increases habitat fragmentation between wolf
populations and probably slows down the exchange between neighbouring populations.
Incidental killing through
can be a serious mortality factor locally (M
EINHARDT AND KLUTH 2011).
Cross-breeding with dogs can be a threat especially for small or fragmented wolf populations
NDERSONE et al. 2002), or in areas with very low wolf density (LINNELL et al. 2008). Under
special circumstances like in some areas of Italy, the sheer quantity of stray or feral dogs that
by far outnumber wolves may lead to increased
OITANI 1984, 1999).
such as rabies, canine distemper and parvovirus, or parasites such as heartworm
or sarcoptic mange might be important causes of death in wolves (F
ULLER et al. 2003).
Canine distemper, parvovirus and sarcoptic mange can lead to an increased mortality rate
especially among pups (K
REEGER 2003). However, so far, cases from Europe are mainly
3.4.2 Threats to and conflicts with wolves in Poland - needs for wolf conservation
and management in Poland
To survive in the long-term, wolves need suitable habitats with abundant prey and safe
refuges in which to successfully breed and raise their young. When forests are fragmented
they need ecological corridors to roam between habitats in order to find unrelated mates and
vacant territories. Currently, there are several main threats to wolves in Poland, of which the
most important are: habitat fragmentation and isolation, disruption of ecological corridors,
disturbance of wolves in their refuges, natural and human-caused mortality (diseases, illegal
killing, hunting of wolves from transborder areas) and conflicts with animal husbandry.
Fragmentation and isolation of wolf habitats and disruption of ecological corridors by
In Poland, the size and integrity of wolf habitats and the
connectivity between them are threatened by urban expansion, large investments within
forest areas and rapid development of the transportation infrastructure. The road and railway
infrastructure is currently being developed and upgraded within the framework of the
European Union program of Trans-European Transportation Network (TEN-T).
Modernization of about 1,700 km of existing roads and construction of 1,500 km of new
motorways and 1,600 km of express roads is to be completed by 2013. Under Polish law, all
the motorways and express roads must be fenced. Because of the economic crisis in Europe
and shortage of financial resources for investment, some road and railway sections will be
completed later and some will not be realized or upgraded at all. However, the extent of
transportation infrastructural expansion harbours the huge threat of habitat fragmentation
and the population decline of many species of flora and fauna, including the wolf.
A proposition to establish an ecological corridors network linking Natura 2000 sites within the
scope of the planned development of the transportation infrastructure network revealed many
conflicts and threats to habitat connectivity, and showed locations where mitigation measures
should be introduced (J
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2004d, 2005c, 2009).
Fragmentation and isolation of wolf habitat by urbanization.
There is no doubt that
increasing urbanisation of the Polish countryside is associated with an array of other complex
issues. Unfortunately, urbanisation entails building houses along local roads or rivers,
increasing linear barriers in the environment and disrupting ecological corridors. In regions
with the highest human density like the Upper Silesian province, the western-most part of the
Carpatian Mts., or areas adjacent to the biggest Polish towns in Central Poland, numerous
villages adjoin each other; there is no gap between them. Regulations governing Polish
spatial planning are still weak, small towns and villages should be more densely built so as
not to threaten the connectivity between wildlife habitats. It seems therefore that this is an
important factor contributing to the disruption of ecological corridors in the nearest future.
Disturbance in refuges
. Most of the Polish forests are state-owned. They are protected
under special regulations against conversion into investment areas or arable land.
Conversion takes a long time and is expensive; however, it is possible, especially for
investments of public importance. The EIA procedure should also help to protect forests
against destructive activities, especially within Natura 2000 sites. However, pressure to
develop various activities in forested areas has increased significantly in the past several
years. The most common are investments to develop huge recreational and tourist
attractions, e.g. holidays centres, hotels, ski resorts, weekend cabins. In many cases, they
cause significant devastation of important habitats of rare species and generate many
activities (e.g. off-road driving, cross motorbikes, snowmobiles) that disturb wolves in their
refuges, both in summer and winter. The most controversial example is the week-long off-
road “Rallye Breslau” regularly organised by the German-owned private company Rallye
Breslau International GmbH and Co. KG
at the end of June in
Poland. 300 off-road cars, trucks, cross bikes and quads from all over Europe take part in the
rally. During the 6-day event, particpants drive through several Natura 2000 sites near
Drawsko Pomorskie (the Drawsko forest) and near Żagań (the Lower Silesian forests) in
western Poland, causing devastation to the natural habitats of rare and protected species,
among them the wolf.
Recently, investments of public interest, such as major construction projects for the
extraction of natural and shale gas, as well as sand mining, have cause irreversible
destructiion of wolf habitats in forests.
Direct mortality factors
There are two ways in which wolves are exposed to poaching in Poland: (1)
Indirect, when poachers targeting wild ungulates set snares along paths used by deer or wild
boar and the wolves become accidental victims of this type of activity, (2) Direct, when
poachers deliberately poach wolves by setting snares or leg-hold traps or by shooting
animals. Intentional poaching of wolves is mostly an expression of conflict of human interests
and wolf predation. In Poland, livestock owners rarely poach wolves. The most frequent
reason for the illegal killing of wolves is competition between hunters and wolves for wild
ungulates, but also hunter reluctance and fear of these predators.
The intensity with which wild ungulates are poached varies from region to region. It is most
common is in the easternmost part of the Carpathians, north-eastern, eastern and north-
western parts of Poland, thus within areas inhabited by the wolf population. Deliberate
poaching of wolves with snares is rare, unlawful shooting is more common. Because gun
ownership requires a special permit under Polish law, not many Poles own a weapon; thus,
the bulk of illegal wolf shootings is perpetrated by hunters. Generally, most wolves are killed
from raised hides during individual hunts when the hunter can keep the incident under wraps.
There is evidence that some wolves are also shot during drive hunts, when they are
accidently driven toward the hunters and either killed intentionally or by mistake. In Poland
there are two laws regulating punishment for poaching protected species:
(1) The Penal Code (June 6, 1996), article 181 § 2, 3 and 4 state that: Whoever, deliberately
destroys or damages plants or animals which are legally protected, thus causing significant
damage to the population, will be punished with the penalty of restriction of liberty or
imprisonment of up to 2 years. If the perpetrator acts unintentionally, he will be subject to a
fine or imprisonment.
(2) The Nature Conservation Act (April 16, 2004), article 127 states that: Whoever
deliberately breaks prohibitions applicable to animals which are legally protected will be
punished with jail or with a fine.
Enforcement of the law allowing punishment of poachers is weak in Poland. Only three cases
of poaching of a protected species (brown bear and European bison) have been prosecuted
in the last several years. The true range and extent of wolf poaching in Poland is difficult to
estimate, as only few such cases are officially reported. Data is only available from regions
where scientific projects have been conducted, e.g. of 12 radiocollared wolves in the
Białowieża Primeval Forest, six were poached in snares or shot from 1994 - 1999
HEUERKAUF et al. 2003a). From 2002 – 2006, at least five wolves were shot or snared in
the Bieszczady Mts. of which one female of three radiocollared animals was shot from a
raised hide (T
HEUERKAUF et al. 2007, GULA 2008b).
Data collected within the scope of the National Wolf Census, as well as for the database of
the Association for Nature “Wolf” revealed that of 25 wolves poached between 1998 and
2012, 10 had been shot and 15 had been snared, of which in turn 3 individuals were
released alive. In December 2011, wolves were shot illegally in the Głusko forest division,
which is situated within the Natura 2000 site "Uroczyska Puszczy Drawskiej" PLH320046
(north-western Poland). Two animals (female and male) were killed at the same time by two
Belgium hunters during a driven hunt on wild ungulates. The case was immediately reported
to the police and the public prosecutor’s office, and currently prosecution proceedings are
Fig. 5: Locations of wolves poached in Poland, 1998-2012. Map: AfN “Wolf”.
There is opinion among some scientists and most hunters that poaching and illegal killing of
wolves is wide-spread and should be considered an important mortality factor preventing
development of the wolf population in western Poland (G
ULA 2008b). According to this
opinion, the only way to limit this practice is to legalise wolf hunting. However, recent
evidence of rapid recolonization of most of the suitable forests tracts in western Poland by
OWAK AND MYSŁAJEK 2011, and unpubl.), combined with the increase in population
density and range in eastern Poland, shows that wolf poaching may not be as high as
believed and will not hinder the population from developing. These findings are interesting if
compared to the situation in the 1990s, when wolves were still legally hunted and the
population range and their number significantly decreased, at least in western Poland.
In Poland about 65 % of national roads deter animals from crossing (>
6,000 v/d), and traffic exceeded 15,000 vehicles per day (v/d) on 12 % of the roads. South,
south-west and central Poland have the highest traffic density (18,000-11,000 v/d), the north-
east and north-western parts of the country have the lowest < 7,000 v/d. Such traffic causes
a high level of road mortality among wildlife, including wolves. Since 2000, 26 wolves have
been reported to be killed by cars and trains in Poland (23 adults and 3 pups). Even in
western Poland, where the wolf population is lowest, at least 10 wolves (7 males and 3
females) have been hit and killed by cars in the last six years (between 2005 and 2011),
including one wolf by a train (N
OWAK AND MYSŁAJEK, unpubl.). Like with poaching, it is very
difficult to assess the actual number of wolves that die every year in accidents involving the
national transportation infrastructure, as such cases are rarely discovered and reported to
Nature Conservation departments.
Fig. 6: Locations where wolves were killed on roads and railways in Poland, 2000-2011. Map: AfN
Although according to article 12 p. 4 of the Habitat Directive there is an obligation for
member states to monitor the incidental capture and killing of animals listed in Annex IV, and
according to the Polish Nature Conservation Act regional directorates of the environment are
obligated to report all cases of incidental capture and killing of strictly protected animals,
there is no regional or national system of registering such cases (road kills and poached
animals) in Poland. Dead wolves are mostly reported when the local forest division applies to
the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection for permission to stuff the dead wolf.
There are also no special research or conservation measures in place to ensure that
incidental capture and killing do not have a significant negative impact on the wolf population.
Wolves in Poland are subject to a number of diseases. A study conducted in
different parts of the country based on scats analyses as well as examination of dead wolves
revealed the presence of 19 species of helminth parasites in wolves (K
LOCH et al. 2005,
OPIOŁEK et al. 2007, SZCZĘSNA-STAŚKIEWICZ 2009). In lowlands the prevelance and
diversity of helminth parasites was much higher than in the Carpathian Mts. In half the cases,
wolves in lowlands were infected with two or more parasites (up to six), in mountains mostly
with one. Also, three protozoan parasites (including
, a factor of babesiosis,
very common deadly disease in dogs) have been found in wolves in north-eastern Poland.
However, there are no detailed data on the level of mortality caused by these factors in
Wolves severely infected with sarcoptic mange have been observed in different regions of
Poland, such as the western Carpathian Mts. (Żywiecki Beskid Mts.) (N
OWAK et al. 2008), the
eastern Carpathian Mts. (Bieszczady Mts.), the Romincka forest (NE Poland), where two
dead wolves, a male and a female, were recently found. Similarly, in western Poland, a wolf
with advanced mange was observed in the Rzepin forest in 2009, the same time the local
pack suddenly decreased in number there (N
OWAK AND MYSŁAJEK 2011).
A program of oral vaccination of wildlife (especially foxes) launched in Poland in 1993
caused more than a hundredfold decrease in the incidence of rabies in wild animals,
including wolves (S
ADKOWSKA-TODYS AND KUCHARCZYK 2009). In the last ten years, only two
rabid wolves have been recorded in the whole country, one in 2000 and one in 2004.
Present cases of rabies among wild and domestic animals occur mainly in eastern and north-
eastern Poland, close to the border with Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, where oral vaccination
programs have not been introduced. As is mentioned in the Wolf Population Management
Plan of the Republic of Belarus (2011), there are about 7 cases of rabies amongst wolves
per year. Wolves can also suffer from tuberculosis, and 3 of 6 animals shot in 2005 - 2008 in
the Bieszczady Mts. were infected with
, bacteria associated with
cows and humans (S
ALWA et al. 2011). The source of the infection could be depredation of
wolves on cattle, or remains of cattle left at baiting stations set by hunters, of which there are
many in the mountains.
Hunting of wolves from transboundry populations.
In most of our neighbouring countries
wolves are game species, and hunting them like in Lithuania and Slovakia, or persecution
like in Russia, Belarus or the Ukraine is legal. Wolves are strictly protected only in Germany
and the Czech Republic. We share a part of our wolf population with all these countries. The
biggest impacts on the Polish wolf population have been culls of wolves in Slovakia, Ukraine
In Slovakia, the hunting season lasts from 1
of October to 31
of January. During the
season 2010/2011, a total of 159 wolves were shot, while a hunting quota was set at 150
animals by the Ministry of the Agriculture. The estimated population number ranged from 350
- 450 individuals. At least 27 wolves (17.6% of the total harvest) from transborder territories
were shot within an 8 km zone along the Polish-Slovakian border. Altogether, about 60% of
the harvest takes place within the 23 km zone along the Polish-Slovakian border (N
MYSŁAJEK, unpubl.). During the past several years, the harvest quotas have remained
similar: 2011/2012 – 135 wolves (hunting quota – 120 animals), 2009/2010 – 138 wolves,
2008/2009 – 127 wolves, 2007/2008 – 123 wolves; during the past five years, 682 wolves
have been killed in Slovakia
Studies of 3 transborder packs in
the Żywiecki Beskid Mts., the western-most part of Carpathian Mts., showed that from 1999 –
2003 culls of wolves in the adjacent area in Slovakia were responsible for 83 % of the total
wolf mortality within the study area (N
OWAK et al. 2008). Recently the Polish-Slovakian Large
Carnivore Working Group achieved a preliminary agreement on creating in Slovakia a 23 km
hunting ban zone along the Polish-Slovakian border to protect the transborder population of
wolves (details in a chapter 5.2). However its acceptance by the Slovakian government is still
In Belarus, wolves are hunted all year round. The “Wolf population management plan”
developed in 2009 proposes large-scale reduction of the population of this species. It
provides for the elimination of more than 60% of wolf packs in Belarus, and interference with
the other family groups using methods such as removing pups from dens and killing them,
which is inhumane and unacceptable, and prohibited under the provisions of international law
(art. 6 of the Bern Convention, art. 12 of the Habitat Directive). Because there is a plan to
reduce the existing 52 wolf packs to 16 in the Grodno and Brest provinces bordering with
Poland, it poses a real threat to wolf family groups living in north-eastern Poland. The wolf
population in Grodno and Brest provinces is heavily exploited; thus, there is a high probability
that most of the young wolves born on the Polish side will disperse to the Belarusian side to
repopulate vacant territories. Therefore, the survival of the population in Grodno and Brest
provinces in Belarus depends on the supply of wolves from the Polish population. In 2010,
the Management Plan was rejected by the Polish Ministry of the Environment and it refused
to endorse a repeal of the ban on imports of wolf-derived hunting trophies from Belarus to the
Generally, there is regular and intensive exploitation of wolves from transboundry
populations in countries bordering Poland to the east and south. This generates a typical
source-sink mechanism, when the protected wolf population in Poland serves as a source of
wolves migrating to adjacent countries to repopulate vacant territories, from which wolves
have been extirpated. Without the regular supply of wolves from the Polish side it is likely
that populations in these countries (especially those in regions close to the Polish border)
would be unstable or that they probably wouldn’t even survive in the long-term. This process
limits the number of wolves migrating to the west, and will impact on the speed of wolf
recovery in western Poland and Germany. Moreover, there is a real threat that wolves
travelling in the opposite direction from west Poland and Germany will be killed in adjacent
Exploitation of transboundary populations of large carnivores without co-operation between
the countries sharing these populations is not consistent with the preamble and articles 1, 10
and 11 of the Bern Convention (Slovakia and Ukraine are parties to this convention), and
especially with Recommendation No. 115 (2005) on the conservation and management of
transboundary populations of large carnivores
Depredation on livestock.
As the damage compensation system is quite well-established in
Poland and the corresponding law functional, conflicts with breeders are generally quite rare.
However, some cases of depredation, mostly those that happen regularly at certain farms or
in areas newly re-colonised by wolves cause difficulties for breeders and involve media
interest. Thus, every year 1-3 applications are submitted to the General Director for the
Environment for permission to cull wolves responsible for regular damage. The National
Council of Nature Conservation expresses its opinion about applications and then permits
indicating the number of wolves, the time and place of the cull are either issued or refused,
when it is not reasonable. From 2000 to the middle of 2012, a total of 24 such permits were
issued for 49 wolves, of which 9 were shot (see table 3).
Although the compensation system is considered to be well established and efficient, wolf
depredation on livestock is frequently used as an argument by hunters to change the legal
status of the species. Moreover, sometimes hunters use the threat of damage to domestic
animals to reinforce and augment negative attitudes towards wolves in local communities.
3.4.3 Threats to and conflicts with wolves in Germany
Threats to wolves in Germany are clearly associated with humans (table 2). At first glance
traffic appears to be the main cause of mortality. However, traffic accidents with large
animals are mostly reported to the police for insurance purposes, while illegal killings are
generally not made public. Yet 35 % of known mortality cases are due to illegal killing, an
alarming number but in accordance with experience in other European countries (see
above). The amount of cryptic poaching activity (L
IBERG et al. 2011) is probably much higher.
Tab. 2: Causes of wolf mortality in Germany (REINHARDT AND KLUTH 2007, unpubl. data).
legal* / illegal** killing
1945 - 1990
1990 - 2011
Fig. 7: Wolves found dead between 1990 and April 2012 in Germany. Map: LUPUS.
Law enforcement is weak when it comes to illegal wolf killings in Germany. Most enquiries
are abandoned and some cases are not even investigated. Even when the alleged culprit is
known, the procedure is generally either dismissed or not even opened. So far, a fine has
been imposed in one case only.
The number of traffic accidents is not surprising since the German wolf area has the highest
known road density of all wolf regions in Europe (R
EINHARDT AND KLUTH 2011). However,
there are hot spots of accidents with wolves that could and should be mitigated. The B156 in
Saxony is such a spot where eight wolves have been killed by traffic in five years. While five
of these animals were pups of the resident pack three were dispersers from Poland -
genetically valuable individuals for the German portion of the population.
Looking at the distribution map of wolves in Germany, it is remarkable that the expansion
appears to be directional while it should not be (W
ABAKKEN et al. 2001, MECH AND BOITANI
OJOLA et al. 2006). This is a strong hint that there might be threats hindering a south-
west expansion of wolves.
The rapid population increase in the Lusatian wolf area from one wolf pack in 2000 to 11
packs in 2011, and the contrastingly slow increase outside the core area might reflect an
increased mortality in dispersing wolves, as has been shown in Scandinavia (L
IBERG et al.
2010), though the data for Germany are still missing.
The increase in wolf population numbers and areas of occurrence cannot obscure the fact
that wolf distribution will be highly fragmented in Germany, possibly dividing the German part
of the population into several population fragments (K
NAUER 2010). Maintaining connectivity
between these population clusters will be important to enhance viability of the population as
Long-distance dispersal of some wolves (R
EINHARDT AND KLUTH 2011) does not alter the fact
that connectivity to neighbouring populations in the East is still weak. This is the conclusion
drawn from the preliminary results of genetic analyses of wolves in Lusatia showing a
considerably amount of inbreeding and a so far lacking introgression of external genes into
this part of the Central European population (H
ARMS, KLUTH, REINHARDT, SMUL, unpubl.
Although monitoring standards for LCs have been in place in Germany since 2009, which is
big progress, a structure ensuring robust area-wide monitoring is however still missing in
most of the Länder. This harbours the danger of wolves making themselves known - usually
by killing sheep - in regions that are unprepared. This will almost certainly be accompanied
by a decrease in acceptance especially among the rural people. Another issue arising from
monitoring fragmentation and, in consequence, highly diverse monitoring efforts is an
unsatisfactory picture of the wolf situation in Germany as a whole. For instance, as long as
all the Länder do not have their genetic samples analysed within a reasonable time frame the
genetic picture for the whole country will remain incomplete.
Wherever this species occurs, the main conflicts are related to livestock issues and to
competition with hunters. The same applies in Germany. However, wolf – livestock conflicts
seem moderate compared to many other European countries (R
EINHARDT et al. 2010). In the
German lowlands, where most of the wolves occur prevention measures are much easier to
implement than in the high mountain areas of the Alps. However, a systematic prevention
scheme is still not the rule in the German Länder (R
EINHARDT et al. 2010).
Overall, public attitudes towards the return of the wolf are positive in Germany (K
2006). However, this opinion stands on shaky ground and can easily turn (K
if problems with wolves increase and people have the feeling they are being left alone.
In Germany, the main area of conflict is the lack of acceptance of wolves by hunters.
Contrary to the general public, hunters´ attitudes towards wolves are much more negative
ÄRTNER AND HAUPTMANN 2005, KACZENSKY 2006).
Legal aspects of wolf management in the EU, Poland and Germany
Legal aspects of wolf management in the EU
At the international level, the wolf is included in several conservation agreements. CITES
(Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of the Wild Fauna and Flora
(03.03.1973)) lists the wolf in Appendix II except the populations of Bhutan, India, Nepal and
Pakistan, which are included in Appendix I (species in danger of extinction) (22.12.2011).
Appendix II lists “all species which although not necessarily now threatened with extinction
may become so unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation in
order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival”. CITES is implemented in the EU
through a set of Regulations known as the Wildlife Trade Regulations.
Council Regulation (EC) No. 338/97 deals with the protection of species of wild fauna and
flora by regulating trade in these species. It lays down the provisions for import, export and
re-export as well as internal EU trade in specimens of species listed in its four Annexes. It
provides for procedures and documents required for such trade (import and export permits,
re-export certificates, import notifications and internal trade certificates) and it regulates the
movement of live specimens. It also sets out specific requirements for Member States to
ensure compliance with the Regulation and to impose adequate sanctions for infringements
On the European level, the wolf is included in Appendix II (strictly protected species) of the
Bern Convention (Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural
Habitats, 19.09.1979). The aim of the Bern Convention is “to conserve wild flora and fauna
and their natural habitats, especially those species and habitats whose conservation requires
the co-operation of several States, and to promote such co-operation”, with particular
emphasis given to endangered and vulnerable species. It was adopted and signed in Bern,
Switzerland in September 1979, and came into force on 1st June 1982 (Directorate of
Culture and Cultural and Natural Heritage, 2003).
The Convention establishes obligations for Parties on the protection of natural habitats and
on the protection of a large number of species mentioned in three appendices (strictly
protected flora species in Appendix I, strictly protected fauna species in Appendix II,
protected fauna species in Appendix III) and also on prohibited means and methods of killing,
capture and other forms of exploitation in Appendix IV. The contracting parties have
to protect the habitats of wild flora and fauna species (Chapter II), and
to give special attention to the conservation of the wild flora and fauna species listed in
Appendices I and II, as well as to the protection of the fauna species listed in Appendix III
(Chapter III) (Directorate of Culture and Cultural and Natural Heritage, 2003).
Hence, the wolf and its habitat receive full protection, whereby enforcement relies on the
contracting parties. The Standing Committee of the Bern Convention also adopted a
recommendation on the protection of the wolf in Europe (Rec. No. 17/1989), urging parties to
implement numerous activities in order to meet the obligations of the convention. However,
several countries made reservations regarding the wolf before adopting the Bern Convention:
Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia,
Spain, Turkey and the Ukraine.
Currently Switzerland has applied for amendment of article 22 of the Bern Convention to
allow contracting parties to make reservations after adopting the Convention. This would
allow Switzerland to make a reservation against protection of the wolf. Another application for
amendment from 29
September 2004 to delete the wolf from appendix II and include it in
Appendix III failed.
The European Commission implements the Bern Convention through Council Directive
92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora (Habitats
Directive), which establishes a legally binding and directly enforceable regime of habitat and
species conservation for Member States, all of which are also Parties to the Convention
The Directive designates the wolf as a species of Community interest for which measures
shall be designed to maintain or restore it to favourable conservation status. However,
requirements are differentiated for certain wolf populations as a result of negotiations prior to
adoption of the Directive (or accession by newer Member States) (S
HINE 2005). The wolf is
listed in Appendix II (needs habitat conservation) apart from populations in Estonia, Finland,
Greece (north of the 39°longitude), Latvia, Lithuania and Spain (north of the river Duero). It is
also listed in appendix IV (fully protected) with the exceptions of the populations in Bulgaria,
Estonia, in Finland in the semi-domestic reindeer husbandry area, Greece (north of the
39°longitude), Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Spain (north of the river Duero) where
the wolf is listed in Appendix V (species of community interest whose taking in the wild and
exploitation may be subject to management measures).
Member states may derogate from the strict protection provided that there is 1) no
satisfactory alternative, 2) the impact to the favourable conservation status and 3) one of the
five derogation reasons is satisfied (art 16, Habitat Directive). Unlike the Bern Convention,
EC law imposes legal obligations that can be directly enforced through the national and
European courts. On 13 January 2005, the European Commission initiated proceedings
against Finland in the European Court of Justice (C-342/05) on the grounds that the
systematic hunting of wolves, with hunting licences granted on the basis of certain
predetermined quotas not focused on individual animals causing serious damage, did not
meet the conditions laid down in Article 16 and that other satisfactory alternatives existed
(Shine 2005). However, the European court has handed down the ruling. Although it states
that by authorising wolf hunting on a preventive basis Finland has failed to fulfil its obligations
under Articles 12(1) and 16(1) (b) of that directive, the ruling also rejects several points of the
European Commission's case
lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:62005CJ0342:EN:PDF). The court
ruling confirmed that the use of a maximum regional limit to kill individual wolves in game
management districts is not per se contrary to art 16(1) of the Habitat Directive (C-342/05
Currently, there is a dialogue between Sweden and the EC regarding the licence hunt in
Sweden in 2010 and 2011. The Commission is concerned about several aspects of Swedish
wolf policy and especially about the hunting of wolves when the species is not in favourable
conservation status. Therefore, on the proposal by Environment Commissioner Janez
Potočnik, it has decided to launch a formal infringement procedure by sending a Letter of
Formal Notice. The Commission highlights that the concerns are related to Sweden's use of
derogation for a licensed hunt, not its separate use of specific derogations for shooting of a
more limited number of wolves in order to prevent serious damage to livestock
France as an example has used derogations in so called depredation hot spots in a very
restricted manner for years without coming into conflict with the commission (see above).
For species listed in Appendix II Habitat Directive, special areas of conservation (SACs) have
to be designed. The Birds Directive requires the establishment of special protection areas
(SPAs). Together the SPAs and SACs make up the Natura 2000 network of protected areas.
The SPAs are designated directly by each EU member state while the SACs follow a more
elaborate process: each EU Member State must compile a list of the best wildlife areas
containing the habitats and species listed in the Habitats Directive; this list must then be
submitted to the European Commission after which an evaluation and selection process will
take place on European level in order to become a Natura 2000 site.
Obviously conservation of a species like the wolf cannot be restricted to protected areas.
Only a few protected areas in Europe are large enough to contain the territories of several
wolf packs. Still, as the wolf is listed in Appendix II, Natura 2000 sites are required for this
species of community interest.
The European Parliament also approved (24.1.1989) a resolution (Doc. A2-0377/88, Ser.A)
which calls for immediate steps for wolf conservation in all European States, adopts the
IUCN Wolf Manifesto and invites the European Commission to expand and provide financial
means to support wolf conservation.
The aim of the Habitat Directive is to “ensure bio-diversity through the conservation of natural
habitats and of wild fauna and flora”. In order to achieve this, measures “shall be designed to
maintain or restore, at favourable conservation status, natural habitats and species of wild
fauna and flora of Community interest” (art 2 Habitat Directive). Large carnivores need a lot
of space. Wolf territory size in Europe varies from 100 to 2000 km² (e.g. J
EDRZEJEWSKI et al.
AND et al. 2010) depending on habitat productivity. This implies that wolves are never
really abundant, with densities typically varying between 0.1 to 3 or 4 individuals per 100
km². Wolf populations in favourable conservation status therefore extend over huge
distribution areas that will usually be fragmented by many different administrative borders. 29
out of 33 large carnivore populations in Europe are transboundary and the remaining four are
not in favourable conservation status (L
INNELL et al. 2008). Thus it becomes apparent that
the scale for conservation planning should not be just the friction of a population that falls
within country boundaries. Rather it should be the entire biological unit; that is the population
INNELL et al. 2008).
There is no single recipe for the management of large carnivores, and populations spanning
several countries face a great diversity of management approaches as can be seen in table
1. Different local situations may demand potentially different management solutions.
However, local management solutions must be set in the context of the large scale they are
working on and of the most appropriate biological unit. Therefore, a population approach is
Against this background, in 2005 the European Commission (EC) authorised the
development of “Guidelines for population level management planning for large carnivores in
Europe”. The result is an expert written document of the same title (L
INNELL et al. 2008) to
which the EC refers to since as best practice guidelines. These guidelines follow the principle
of “freedom within frames” (L
INNELL 2005). As long as the goals are decided on a large scale
there is some flexibility to modify the mechanism used to achieve this goal on a more local
INNELL et al. 2008). In other words “think global, act local”. The authors state that
within large populations there is far more room for different approaches and freedom of
action than within small populations (or within the friction of a population falling within one
From a conservation perspective, the overall goal would be to establish a metapopulation of
interconnected populations, each at a level of favourable conservation status (FCS). For
single populations the goal should be to make species status as favourable as possible not
just to achieve a minimum viable population. Hence the intention of the Habitat Directive
appears to be that countries should not set limits on large carnivore expansions once they
have achieved (in cooperation with neighbouring countries) a minimum level of FCS (L
et al. 2008).
INNELL et al. (2008) recommend that by default large carnivores should be allowed to
recolonise as many areas as possible, but accept that there may be limits to this and that the
favourable reference range (FRR) can be less than the maximum potential range.
However, the absolute minimum requirements that member states must meet are:
(1) Countries sharing one population, or segments of a population, contribute to ensuring
between them that the population reaches and maintains FCS, and
(2) They allow for connectivity between neighbouring populations and segments within the
same population, and
(3) Management activities do not create a sink that can influence the FCS of a population,
(4) Populations should in general not be allowed to go below the level they had when the
Directive came into force on their territory.
Though the reporting routines of the Habitat Directive require that FCS is evaluated within
each country, more precisely for each biogeographical region within the country, the
INNELL et al. 2008) recommendations of a population level assessment is still in
accordance with the Directive as stated in the guidance documents: Populations should be
seen as biological populations irrespective of political borders. In cases where populations
are transboundary member states are encouraged to undertake a common assessment but
to report separately (DocHab 04-03/03-rev.3). A population approach as it is already the
intention of the Bern Convention is reasonable since most countries will hardly be able to
host LC populations in their own territory that can reach FCS. To achieve Directive goals for
a species group like LCs spatial scales that span borders must be considered. Thus
population level management plans can simply be viewed as an instrument to achieve this
INNELL et al. 2008).
Although the approach is strikingly reasonable, to date no population level management
plans have been developed for large carnivores in Europe.
Poland ratified the Bern Convention in 1995, but the wolf was excluded
from the Appendix II.
According to the derogation obtained by Poland, the wolf has been left in
Annex II, but moved from Annex IV to Annex V of the Habitats Directive. It allowed creating
Natura 2000 sites which protect wolf habitats (for details see below).
Council Regulation (EC) No. 338/97
: Poland has adopted the regulation and there are
special procedures regulating the trade of trophies and body parts of wolves within Poland
and from abroad. All permits for import or export of wolf trophies must be accepted by the
National Council of Nature Conservation.
Despite these derogations, at the national level, the wolf has been a
strictly protected species in the whole of Poland since 1998. Furthermore, the wolf is listed
among species requiring active protection. Consequently, a seasonal protection zone
encompassing a radius of 500 m may be established around wolf pup-rearing areas from 1
April to 31
August. However enforcement of the law is very weak.
Derogations regarding wolf killing and capturing procedures
According to the Nature Conservation Act (April 16, 2004), article 56 p.1, since 2008, a
derogation regarding wolves can only be granted by permission of the General Director for
Environmental Protection (GDEP) in those cases where wolves pose a serious threat to
humans or cause numerous damage to livestock and there is no other/alternative way of
preventing it. All applications for derogations submitted to the GDEP should include the
name and address of the applicant; the purpose of implementing the proposed activities, a
description of the activities for which a license is being sought, the number of individuals
concerned, the manner, methods and equipment used to capture, trap or kill the animals, the
place and time of the action, the ensuing risks and an indication of who will capture or kill the
animals. Most such applications are submitted by local communities, only few by individual
livestock owners. In most of cases, the National Council of Nature Protection (an advisory
body for GDEP) is asked for an opinion on whether the derogation is reasonable and
necessary. Since 2000, a total of 25 permits have been issued to kill 49 wolves, 10 of which
have been shot so far (the last permit for 2 wolves has not expired yet). In 4 cases, the
wolves were in a very poor state of health (sarcoptic mange, rabies or other disease), in 1
case the wolves had escaped from an enclosure. In 20 cases, the decisions were justified
with the statement that “the wolves pose a serious threat to humans and/or livestock”;
however, the threat to humans was not based on reliable research or facts but on the stance
or convictions expressed in applications by local communities to the General Director for
Environmental Protection (table 3).
Tab. 3: Derogations from the Polish Nature Conservation Act issued by the Polish Ministry of
Environment (2000 -2007) and the General Directorate for Environmental Protection to shoot
wolves in Poland, 2008 - 2012.
Year the permit
Number of wolves
permitted to kill
Number of wolves
Reason the permit was issued
Poor health status; potential risk for people.
Individuals specialised in livestock killing.
2001 1 ?
Individuals posing a threat to humans and
2002 1 ?
Individual posing a threat to humans and
Numerous damage to livestock.
2003 3 0
Individuals posing a threat to humans and
Numerous damage to livestock.
2003 1 0
Individuals posing a threat to humans and
Numerous damage to livestock.
Numerous damage to livestock.
2003 1 0
Individuals posing a threat to humans and
Poor health status; potential risk for people.
2004 1 1 Suspected rabies.
Individuals escaped from captivity.
Numerous damage to livestock.
Numerous damage to livestock.
Numerous damage to livestock.
Numerous damage to livestock.
Numerous damage to livestock.
Numerous damage to livestock.
Numerous damage to livestock.
2008 1 0 Injured individual.
Numerous damage to livestock.
2009 1 0
Individuals posing a threat to humans and
Numerous damage to livestock.
Total 49 10
* - permission in progress till 2013.
? - no data.
Germany adopted the Bern Convention in 1984 without reservations regarding the wolf.
According to the Habitats Directive, the wolf is listed in Appendix II and IV in Germany. In the
Federal Republic of Germany the wolf has been strictly protected since 31
(BArtSchV). In the German Democratic Republic, the wolf was classified as a game species,
and since 1984 wolves could and were to be hunted all year round. Consequently,
individuals immigrating from Poland were shot. After reunification in 1990, the wolf became a
fully protected species in Germany. For a number of years, some of the New Länder still kept
the wolf as a game species with a closed season. In 1999, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
was the last of the Länder to remove the wolf from the domain of hunting law. Today, the wolf
is solely governed by the Federal Nature Conservation Act, where it is listed as strictly
protected (§44 BNatschG 29.07.2009); enforcement relies on the Länder. §44 BNatschG
defines bans on access, possession and on marketing for strictly protected species.
According to this paragraph it is illegal to capture, injure or kill wolves or to disturb them in a
way (for example at their breeding places) that the conservation status of the “local
population” will be degraded. The term “local population” is legal jargon, which with regard to
the wolf is interpreted by conservation experts as the territorial unit, e.g. the pack or the pair.
Currently, it is the intention of some Länder (Saxony, Brandenburg) to bring the wolf under
the additional control of hunting law. The driving forces behind this move are hunting
associations and their desire to gain more influence on wolf population development. Legally,
it would not affect the protection status of the wolf; however, the administration would
increase and management of the species become more awkward. Furthermore, often,
regional hunting legislation does not comply with the Habitats Directive (L
OUIS AND MEYER-
AVENSTEIN 2009). To put a strictly protected species in the domain of regional hunting
legislation would first entail major revision of the law.
Germany has allocated 4,619 SACs or 9.3 % of its terrestrial land cover
implementation of the Habitats Directive. However, most of these areas are very small in
comparison to wolf territory sizes. Only five Natura 2000 areas (4 in Saxony, 1 in
Brandenburg) ranging from 329 ha to 13,732 ha were allocated for the wolf. The reason for
this low figure is that most SACs were designated in 2004 and 2005, when many Länder
authorities still could not imagine the wolf spreading. So far, the Länder have missed the
opportunity to subsequently register the wolf as an object of protection in SACs, to which the
species has immigrated since the areas were initially designated. To date, derogations
according to art. 16 Habitats Directive have not been issued in Germany. According to
various wolf management plans of the Länder, derogation for removal of a wolf can be
granted if a wolf cannot be stopped from killing protected livestock by any other means, or if
a wolf poses a threat to humans (e.g. SMUL 2009). However, so far no such cases have
To date, six official removals of wolves are known:
2000, Brandenburg: a three legged male wolf became interested in a German shepherd
female in heat. It tried to get close to the dog while ignoring people. The wolf was captured
and placed permanently in an enclosure where it lived for several years.
2004, Bavaria: a single wolf that showed up in the Bavarian Forest showed little fear of
humans. The wolf was killed by police order. A self proclaimed wolf expert had “identified”
the animal as a hybrid. The persons responsible were charged. Charges were dropped.
2008, Saxony: a 4.5 month old disorientated wolf pup showed up in a city some 15 km
outside the Saxonian wolf area. The pup was captured. Genetic analysis showed that it
derived from the nearest pack. However, the wolf was almost tame and blind. Officials gave
orders to euthanize it.
2011, Brandenburg: 1 wolf was shot by police after having been severely injured by a car. 1
wolf was put down by order of the authorities after the animal was involved in a road
accident. The veterinarian diagnosed a complicated fracture of the femur. Wolf experts and
the vet recommended euthanizing the animal.
2012, Saxony: a wolf found in bad condition in the forest was euthanized by order of the
authorities after the veterinarian found the animal to be in very poor health and experts
recommended putting the animal down.
5. Scientific and technical aspects of wolf management in the EU,
Poland and Germany
Scientific and technical aspects of wolf management in the EU
The aims of the Habitats Directive are to achieve and maintain a "favourable conservation
status" (FCS) for all habitats and species of European importance, and to protect the
biodiversity of natural habitats, and of wild fauna and flora, in the Member States (DocHab
In the "Guidelines for Population Level Management Plans for Large Carnivores in Europe"
INNELL et al. 2008), the term "favourable conservation status" (FCS) is defined as follows:
A population is considered to have a favourable conservation status if all of the following
eight conditions are fulfilled:
1 – The population is stable or increasing in size.
2 – It has sufficient suitable habitat.
3 – The habitat in question will retain its quality.
4 – The population size for the "favourable reference population" (FRP) has been
achieved (according to the IUCN's Red List criteria D or E).
5 – The population size is equal to or greater than it was at the time the Directive
came into force.
6 – The "favourable reference range" (FRR) has been occupied.
7 – Connectivity within and between populations is being maintained or enhanced (at
least one genetically effective immigrant per generation).
8 – An effective, robust monitoring programme has been established.
The Guidelines (L
INNELL et al. 2008) also present practicable definitions of FRP and FRR.
According to that source, an FRP must fulfil the following criteria:
1) The population must be at least as large as it was at the time the Habitats Directive came
into force. AND
2) The population must be at least as large as (preferably, considerably larger than) the
minimum viable population (MVP) as defined by the IUCN viability criteria D (>1000 mature
animals) or E (extinction risk based on a quantitative PVA – population viability analysis <10
% within a period of 100 years). AND
3) The population is being continually monitored via a robust monitoring programme.
Monitoring should provide a clear picture of the situation. In addition, to permit analysis at the
EU level, the final report submitted to the Commission should be comparable to, and
compatible with, those of other countries. As a result of these requirements, monitoring
efforts need to be standardised, and interpretation of their results need to be standardised as
well, at both the national and international levels.
So far, there are no pan-European standards for the monitoring of large carnivores.
Monitoring efforts and data interpretation vary greatly between countries (chapter 3.1.2). The
INNELL et al. 2008) give at least a best practice recommendation (LCIE policy
support statement) for LC monitoring. Therein the authors recommend using the so called
SCALP criteria (classification of observations into hard facts / confirmed observations /
unconfirmed observations) for analysis of species distribution. For population size estimation,
methods are recommended that calculate a mean and an error and thus give an idea of the
statistical precision of the measure. Such estimations are generally based on “capture-
recapture” (CR) statistics and thus on a method that allow to distinguish individuals from
each other. The required data can be obtained for instance due to genetic analysis for
wolves and bears or with camera traps for lynx.
To date, only France and the Piedmont have established such an intense genetic wolf
monitoring programme and are using CR analysis resulting in population size estimates with
confidence intervals (M
ARUCCO et al. 2009, CUBAYES et al. 2010). Genetic samples are
systematically collected during the five to six month snow season in the Alps. In France, in
addition to intensive sign survey during winter within all previously detected wolf territories,
extensive survey is also conducted during the year by a network of about 1000 trained
persons who are dispatched to cover the alpine range and report signs of wolf presence
ARESCOT et al. 2011).
ARUCCO et al. (2009) showed that wolf abundance obtained from snowtracking alone was
underestimated by about 36 % compared to CR analysis. However, the devil is in the detail,
and CR analyses can also be misleading. Individual detection heterogeneity may lead to
strong bias in the estimation of population abundance with CR analysis (C
UBAYES et al.
ARESCOT et al. (2011) show that the population growth rate is much less sensitive to
individual detection heterogeneity than abundance is. The authors therefore recommend
using population growth rate estimated with capture-recapture data as a robust method to
monitor wolf populations. They suggest population growth rate as the better metric for
conservation especially in a small population for which a precise estimate of abundance is
not a helpful indication of its status. In other situations, e.g., for large harvested populations,
population growth rate alone is not sufficient for making management decisions and an
estimate of population size is required (M
ARESCOT et al. 2011).
The use of population size indices like the number of wolf packs and the number of scent
marking pairs is much more robust than trying to “count” single individuals. In particular, the
number of packs is biologically more meaningful than the number of wolf individuals. That is
why wolf biologists recommend working with such indices especially if the statistical precision
of the data is unknown.
In 2001, the first Alpine Wolf Workshop was initiated by French wolf biologists in order to
facilitate a regular information exchange and effective collaboration between France, Italy
and Switzerland. Several years later, the Alpine Wolf Group was appointed as the technical
advisory board in the frame of wolf management by the French, Italian and Swiss
governmental authorities. In 2006, the “
Protocollo di collaborazione italofranco- svizerra per
la gestione del lupo nelle Alpi
” (“Italian-French-Swiss collaboration protocol for the wolf
management in the Alps”) was signed by the authorities. Although no population level
management plan is yet in place, there is an official two levelled board for wolf management
and monitoring. On the administrative level (involving French, Italian and Swiss
governmental authorities) monitoring data required and other scientific or technical reports
needed are defined and given as working objective to the technical advising board. The
Alpine Wolf Group can by itself also recommend monitoring and other issues that should be
worked on to the administrative board.
The Alpine Wolf Group has worked on standardizing methods to collect process and analyse
data across country boundaries. Sharing and pooling data was a priority in order, for
instance, to produce presence maps, range expansion indices or demographic indices at the
population level, regardless of national boundaries (M
ARBOUTIN 2008). Meanwhile a common
protocol has been developed and is used by the different genetic labs involved in genetic
monitoring in these countries. This makes it possible for an individual wolf that was once
genotyped in one lab to be be recognized by any other of the labs involved.
Research in France and the Piedmont is clearly monitoring and therefore management
related. Special focus is given to the reliability and improvement of monitoring methods and
data analysis used (M
ARUCCO et al. 2009, CUBAYES et al. 2010, MARBOUTIN et al. 2010,
ARESCOT et al. 2011). CHAPRON et al. (2003) developed demographic models to evaluate
the effect of different management measures like zoning or lethal control on population
viability. The results are used in French wolf management for planning for the potential
number of wolves that can be removed by lethal control each year while ensuring a
population growth rate > 1.
Scandinavia operates joint wolf monitoring, partly even in cooperation with Finland. In
Sweden, county administrative boards perform the fieldwork and collection of field data
(snow-tracking, DNA-samples), whereas under a contract with the management authorities
the Wildlife Damage Center (VSC) at Grimsö Research Station is responsible for evaluating
and summarizing the results of the wolf monitoring activities. In Norway, the wolf biologists at
Hedmark University College are responsible, in cooperation with the Norwegian Nature
Inspectorate (SNO), for monitoring resident and non-resident wolves, respectively.
Furthermore, cooperative wolf pack monitoring is carried out in Fennoscandia in
collaboration with Finland (W
ABAKKEN et al. 2010). The results are published yearly in a
common Fennoscandian status report
The estimated number of wolves in Scandinavia is mainly based on long distances of ground
tracking on snow, but also on radio-telemetry and DNA-analysis. To guarantee the quality of
the reports used, the majority are checked in the field by the project or other personnel with
experience of ground tracking wolves on snow. The results are presented as minimum-
maximum numbers where the minimum are based exclusively on field-checked reports, while
the maximum also include other reports (W
ABAKKEN et al. 2010). Field personnel specifically
trained for censusing large carnivores are employed by the responsible authorities. 950 man
days of tracking were used each winter in recent years (L
IBERG et al. 2010).
In addition to joint monitoring, the Scandinavian wolf project (SKANDULV) was formally
initiated in 2000. Partners in SKANDULV are the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research
(NINA), the Hedmark University College (HIHM) and the Grimsö Wildlife Research Station.
Funding is provided by the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management and the Research
Council of Norway together with the Swedish Environmental Nature Protection Agency, the
Swedish Research Council Formas and a number of Swedish NGOs and trusts. Since 2000
numerous groundbreaking research projects have been and are still being carried out (a
number of publications can be downloaded from the SKANDULV home page at
Central themes of wolf research are population dynamics,
geographical expansion of the population and genetics, social behaviour and predation. The
human dimensions of wolf ecology, including depredation and human attitudes are also
studied. SKANDULV involves a number of scientific institutions, and is actually a consortium
of several subprojects with separate budgets
The comeback of the wolf in Scandinavia was monitored scientifically from an early stage
and knowledge of this wolf population is unique. Researchers have managed to compile and
maintain a complete pedigree of the population (L
IBERG 2002, LIBERG et al. 2005). The focus
is on gaining genetic samples from the scent marking wolves in each territory during every
snow tracking season. By doing so, all (potential) parents are known and any wolf can be
tracked to its natal territory or identified as immigrant. Population growth rates, natal rates,
survival rates of various age classes and number and the reproductive success of
immigrating wolves from Finland are known due to intensive monitoring and research. This
enables Sweden to conduct PVAs and to predict the impact of such actions like quota
hunting in detail, and also to follow up the actions to determine their effect (LCIE 2010). To
our knowledge, such detailed data are not available for any other wolf population in Europe.
Despite extensive cross-border collaboration in monitoring and research, a formalized
population level management plan coordinated between Norway and Sweden is still lacking.
This was the main point of criticism put forward in the Position statement from the Large
Carnivore Initiative for Europe on the 2010 Swedish wolf hunt (LCIE 2010).
The LCIE (Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe) is a Specialist group of the IUCNs Species
Survival Commission. It consists of large carnivore and human dimension experts, mostly
from Europe. Currently, the LCIE is preparing updated status reports on LCs in Europe. A
version from 2005 is available at
In 2009, the EU established a Wolf Working Group in order to facilitate the exchange of
information and experience on a government level. The group was meant to thrive on
requests and contributions from member states. After several meetings in 2009 and 2010 in
Brussels, the group has currently suspended its activities.
Several EU co-financed LIFE and LIFE+ projects had and have the wolf in focus, for
example, CROWOLFCON: “Conservation and management of wolves in Croatia”
vuk.hr) or SLO-WOLF: “Conservation and surveillance of the conservation status of the wolf
) population in Slovenia”
some of them span several countries
that aims at developing a strategy against the
poisoning of large carnivores and scavenger raptors mainly by training and exploiting
antipoison dog units in Spain and Italy. Another project, LIFE-COEX: “Improving coexistence
of large carnivores and agriculture in Southern Europe”
reducing large carnivore – livestock conflicts due to mitigation measures like electric fencing
or livestock guarding dogs.
The results of this project together with other written sources were used for a review of the
efficiency of different livestock protection measures in Europe on behalf of the BfN
EINHARDT et al. 2010). The report also gave an overview on existing mitigation and
compensation schemes in Europe.
Most EU member states provide a system of compensation for damages caused by large
carnivores. Often these regulations have been specially developed for large carnivores,
acknowledging that large carnivore conservation is in the interest of society as a whole.
Consequently, the solidarity principle demands that the associated costs should be carried
by society rather than be burdened onto a few directly affected farmers (K
OURLI, 1999; REINHARDT et al. 2012). Preventing damages is better than refunding
damages after they occur. Active prevention is the only system that will help to diminish
damages. Thus, compensation must be linked to preventive measures (B
OITANI, 2000), or
else there may be weak incentive to implement accurate prevention measures. However, to
date, only a few European countries do so. (R
EINHARDT et al. 2010).
In most countries compensation is paid if the culprit species cannot be determined. This
means that in cases of doubt, i.e. when it is unclear whether a wolf or a dog caused the
damage, the losses are compensated. Some countries like Slovenia and Switzerland
demand clear evidence that the damage was indeed caused by a wolf (e.g. genetic analysis).
In general 100 % of the market price is paid; in Sweden even 200 % (R
EINHARDT et al. 2010).
Funding of prevention measures is not as common as paying compensation. Where wolves
have always been present damage prevention measures are regarded best practice. If
funded, financial or logistic support for upgrading or intensifying prevention measures will
often come within the framework of projects such as LIFE-COEX (LIFE 04NAT/IT/000144 –
COEX – Final Report). In contrast, where wolves have made a recent comeback,
establishing new preventive measures is often financed in full or subsidized by government
funds (e.g. France, Sweden, and the Piedmont). Which measures and to what extent
prevention measures are supported financially and who is eligible to apply for support, differs
from country to country, and in federal countries from region to region (R
EINHARDT et al.
Definition of favourable reference population
The favourable reference population for wolves in Poland was determined in the
the main results of the surveillance under article 11 for annex II, IV and V species
sent to the
European Commission by the Polish Government
canis-lupus.xmlandconv=rem_24). The Report was developed in 2007 for the period 2000 -
2006 (table 4). It was based on results of the National Wolf Census co-ordinated by the
Mammal Research Institute PAS in Białowieża.
was analysed and assessed on a base of 10x10 km EU grid cells which
included signs of wolf presence. The cells were considered as occupied by wolves if wolf
presence had been confirmed there during the last 2 years of the reporting period.
was estimated with two methods: (1) as a sum of grid cells which included signs
of wolf presence or (2) as a sum of polygons created when locations of wolf presence (points
with geographic coordinates) were surrounded by an 8 km buffer.
The favourable reference population
in the report was mainly estimated on a base of the
wolf habitats suitability model for Poland, which was under development at the Mammal
Research Institute PAS (J
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2008). The approach and methods of analyses
are described below in:
Availability of habitats, number of wolves and prey species.
Tab. 4: Wolf population in Poland according to the Report on the main results of the surveillance under
article 11 for annex II, IV and V of the Habitats Directive. Estimation done in 2006 for the
period of 2000 - 2006.
Alpine Continental Whole country
Surface range of the species
) 8,600 25,200 33,800
Current habitat area estimation
) 6,000 15,300 21,300
Population size estimation
180 - 220
310 - 420
490 - 640
Favourable reference range (km
Suitable habitat for the species
) 6,000 53,500 59,500
Favourable reference population
(individuals) 200 1,200 1,400
Monitoring of wolves
In the past, when the wolf was a game species (before 1998), assessment of wolf distribution
and numbers in Poland were based on data collected by hunters within relatively small (on
. 44 km
) hunting grounds managed by hunting clubs. This method and approach
led to multiple counting of individuals belonging to the same family groups and,
consequently, to overestimation of population size. Such methodology was widely criticized
KARMA 1984, 1993, NOWAK 1999).
Currently, according to Polish law (the Environmental Conservation Act) the Chief
Inspectorate of Environmental Protection (GIEP) is responsible for monitoring of Habitats
Directive species and habitats in Poland. However, the animal species monitoring system
does not have a defined structure. Institutions are not obliged to regularly collect data on
species distribution and number, neither have adequate funds for collecting data been
secured. However, in 2010, the General Inspectorate for Environmental Protection published
a methodological handbook “Monitoring of animal species” describing and recommending
methods of wolf population monitoring, indicators of population status, indicators of habitat
status within Natura 2000 sites and other forest tracts (J
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2010a).
The main indicators recommended to define the population status are population density (n
of individuals/100 km
) and number of wolf packs/100 km
Indicators for wolf habitat quality are forest cover, fragmentation of forests, food biomass
), road density and isolation of habitats.
The methods recommended for collecting data on wolf presence within areas are
simultaneous winter tracking and year-round observations.
Thus, despite the fact that EU law obligates member states to conduct monitoring of species
protected under the Habitats Directive, such a governmental programme has not been
implemented in Poland yet. Monitoring of protected species, including wolves is conducted
by scientists within a frame of scientific projects or as projects funded by environmental
At a local scale, scientists have conducted research projects, partly focused on wolf
population dynamics (e.g. J
ĘDRZEJEWSKA et al. 1996, ŚMIETANA AND WAJDA 1997, NOWAK et
al. 2008, G
ULA 2008, SEWERNIAK 2011).
The National Census of Wolves and Lynx
was initiated by the Mammal Research Institute
of the Polish Academy of Science in Białowieża (MRI), the Association for Nature “Wolf” (AfN
WOLF) and the State Forest Service in 2000. It was conducted intensively for the next few
years up to 2009, and with less effort up to the present. Results of the Census are regularly
presented in reports published on a special web site
Currently, information on wolf and lynx presence is still collected and analysed by the MRI,
but with less intensity and small participation by the forest service. However, there are
intentions to improve census efforts in future and involve regional directorates for
environmental protection. The census is co-ordinated by the MRI and AfN WOLF. Data on
wolf presence is collected by foresters and national park services, scientists and volunteers;
however, they are analyzed by scientists. The main goal of the census is to assess the
number of wolf packs living in Poland. Two main methods of data collecting are used: (1)
simultaneous winter tracking and (2) year-round observations (1) Initially, all large forests
tracts were divided into 70 census divisions using the criterion of well-defined complex
limited by visible barriers such as large built-up areas, farmland, rivers, major roads, etc.
Winter tracking is conducted simultaneously within these divisions about 12 - 24 hours after a
snowfall. Experienced trackers (scientists, forest and park service, and hunters) walk through
fixed transects along forest roads and tourist routes in order to identify and chart any wolf
tracks, their size and directions and number of individuals in a group. Later, the maps with
questionnaires including relevant information are sent to the MRI. (2) All year round,
foresters and national parks services use special forms to record information on any signs of
wolf presence found, e.g. direct observations of adults and pups, faeces and scent markings,
tracks, wolf howling, wolf dens, remains of prey, depredation cases, etc. The forms are sent
to the MRI quarterly.
These year-round observations are still conducted in many forest divisions and national
parks. At the same time, winter tracking, which is a more laborious method, is only
conducted by a few forest divisions. Moreover, information on wolf presence is provided by
environmentalists and data on livestock depredation is provided by regional directorates of
environmental protection in different provinces.
All these data are computed to a database at the MRI. Since 2000, more than 30,000
records have been collected. At the end of a year, data from one census period (1
March) is analyzed with GIS tools by scientists from the MRI, based on knowledge of
wolf ecology and behavior in Poland. If the data are suitable, the analyses focus on
distinguishing between wolf packs, estimation of number of packs and loners, numbers of
wolves in family groups, reproduction status of packs, and detection of resident packs and
lone wolves out of the range. The distribution and number of wolf packs and the number of
individuals in Poland has been defined until 2009. In the most recent report from 2009/2010,
only distribution of the wolf population was presented
The project was supported by Euronatur
(Germany) and the State Forest Service.
Monitoring of the wolf population in western Poland
. Since 2001, the Association for
Nature „Wolf” has been responsible for monitoring wolf recovery in western Poland and has
collected data on wolf presence there. Scientists (members of AfN) experienced in wolf
tracking conduct monitoring activities together with persons less experienced in order to train
them. All larger forest tracts west of the river Vistula are checked regularly all year round for
evidence of wolf presence. Field workers look for tracks, scats, prey remains, evidence of
wolf mating and for the tracks of pups. Howling stimulation has been also used. All finds are
tagged with geographic coordinates and documented with photos. Information from
environmentalists, foresters, hunters and other persons is also collected via e-mail, but good
quality photographs of all finds (tracks, scats, markings, direct observations) are required.
The project continues with the aim to define every year the number and distribution of
resident packs (at least marking pairs or breeding family groups) occupying western Poland.
Furthermore, changes in the range and numbers of wolf packs in western Poland and the
dynamics of population development are recorded. Each year, data gathered by AfN Wolf in
the database (the Excel file is compatible with the National Wolf Census database) are
analysed by AfN wolf specialists, and the results are added to the National Wolf Census
report. The project has been supported for many years by the International Fund for Animal
Welfare (IFAW Germany), Euronatur (Germany) and a budget from AfN Wolf. The results of
the project have been described in a book “Wilki na zachód od Wisły” [Wolves west of the
river Vistula] (N
OWAK AND MYSŁAJEK 2011).
In 2012, the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection (RDEP) in Szczecin started a
wolf inventory together with local state forest divisions and NGOs in the Zachodniopomorskie
Province using the same methodology as the National Wolf Census. The data are collected
by foresters and field workers of RDEP and local NGOs and then analysed to obtain the
distribution and number of wolves in the province.
In 2010, the General Directorate of Motorways and National Roads commissioned two
projects focussing on wolves in the Lower Silesian Forest (western Poland), thus fulfilling
recommendations by the EIA for the A4 motorway Zgorzelec-Krzyżowa section, and in
compliance with environmental decisions issued by appropriate authorities. (1) Monitoring of
use of 16 wildlife passages on the A4, especially by wolves and their prey species (2010 -
2013). (2) Monitoring of the wolf population in the Lower Silesian Forest with the objective of
assessing the impact of the newly-built section of A4 motorway on the local wolf population
(2010 - 2013). The methodology of the project includes genetic monitoring and intensive wolf
Scientific research/projects on wolf biology and management
The first monographs on wolves covering information about their biology and life history
appeared in Poland from the beginning to the mid-twentieth century. However, they were
mostly based on anecdotal observations and focused on the different methods of hunting
WIĘTORZECKI 1926, KOWALSKI 1953b). Until 1980, several scientific papers on
internal parasites (F
URMAGA AND WYSOCKI 1949, FURMAGA 1953, SOŁTYS 1964), morphology
UMIŃSKI 1975b, SUMIŃSKI AND FILIPIAK 1977), diet (RZEBIK-KOWALSKA 1972) and species
UMIŃSKI 1975a) were published. However, in the same period, articles by
mammalogists also appeared in the Polish literature and environmental journals expressing
opposition to the extermination of wolves (e.g. S
UMIŃSKI 1970, BUCHALCZYK 1972,
LAROWSKI 1973). Major research projects on this species started in the eighties of the 20
OWAK AND JĘDRZEJEWSKI 2008). They covered a broad spectrum of topics
including anatomy, physiology, ecology, behaviour, health, as well as conservation issues
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2010). Until 2012, almost 60 scientific papers indexed in the
Reuters Journal Citation Report
have been published, and dozens of publications have
appeared in journals without an impact factor. Furthermore, several monographs and popular
books about wolves have been published recently (O
KARMA 1992, 1997, BERESZYŃSKI 1998,
OWAK AND MYSŁAJEK 2000, 2011, WIERZBOWSKA 2011). The most comprehensive and long-
term scientific projects have been conducted in the following regions: the Białowieża
Primeval Forest by scientists from the Mammal Research Institute of the Polish Academy of
Sciences; in the Bieszczady Mts. (the eastern-most part of Polish Carpathians) by
researchers from the Jagiellonian University and two institutes of the Polish Academy of
Sciences (Institute of Nature Conservation in Kraków and Museum and Institute of Zoology in
Warsaw), and in the Beskidy Mountains (western Carpathians) and in western Poland by
scientists from the Association for Nature “Wolf”.
Relatively little attention has been paid to the anatomy and physiology of
Polish wolves. Several works have been devoted to metrical characteristics of skulls
KARMA AND BUCHALCZYK 1993), variations in number of teeth and skull asymetry
UCHALCZYK et al. 1981), basal metabolic rate (OKARMA AND KOTEJA 1989), physiology of
OFFMANNOWA et al. 1964), food intake, and digestibility of various food items by
OBEK AND NOWICKI 1996).
Wolf distribution and number.
Historical information on changes in the wolf range in
Poland since 19
century was elaborated by WOLSAN et al. (1992). The first modern
assessments of wolf distribution and number were based on data delivered by hunters
AMROZY 1994), which led to an overestimation of population size. Consequently, several
papers focused on a critical evaluation of the methodology (O
KARMA 1984, 1989, 1993,
Data collected within the National Wolf Census, co-ordinated by the Mammal Research
Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Association for Nature “Wolf”, not only
provided reliable information on the distribution and number of wolves in Poland
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2002a). The data were also used for evaluation of habitat variables
associated with wolf distribution and abundance both in the lowlands (J
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al.
2004a) and mountains (J
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2005b), followed by habitat suitability models
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2008, HUCK et al. 2010) and evaluation of ecological corridors
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2005c, HUCK et al. 2011).
Detailed studies on population dynamics, demography, reproduction
and mortality have been conducted in the Białowieża Primeval Forest (BPF) (J
et al. 1996), Eastern Carpathians (Ś
MIETANA AND WAJDA 1997) and Western Carpathians
OWAK et al. 2008). JĘDRZEJEWSKA et al. (1996) conducted an in-depth study of the
dynamics of the wolf population in the Białowieża Primeval Forest in relation to hunting by
humans in the19
centuries. Implementation of radio-telemetry allowed researchers
to recognize the size of wolf home-ranges (O
KARMA et al. 1998, JĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2007),
distance of daily movement (J
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2001), speed of movement (Musiani et al.
1998), selection of pup-rearing and resting sites (T
HEUERKAUF et al. 2003b). Also, duration of
wolf activity (T
HEUERKAUF et al. 2003a) and numerous factors driving activity have been
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2001, THEUERKAUF et al. 2003c, THEUERKAUF et al. 2007,
GGERMANN et al. 2009, TSUNODA et al. 2009, THEUERKAUF 2009). Moreover, spatio-
temporal interactions between wolves and lynx (S
CHMIDT et al. 2009) and between wolves
and red deer (T
HEUERKAUF AND RUYS 2007) have been studied. Telemetry studies influenced
introduction of new methods of wolf capture (O
KARMA AND JĘDRZEJEWSKI 1997) and
improvement of methodology (T
HEUERKAUF AND JEDRZEJEWSKI 2002). The eterritories of
packs (studied by radio-telemetry and intense snow tracking) in Poland range from 150 km
in the Carpathians to 250-300 km
in the lowlands. Very little overlap (7% on average) of
neighboring territories has been observed. In the Białowieza Primeval Forest, variation in
territory size is shaped by abundance of wild ungulates, but is not affected by pack size. In
the lowlands, wolves travel on average 23 km per day. The shortest daily routes are covered
in May by breeding females and the longest by dominant males in winter.
The diet composition of wolves in Poland is very well recognized through
studies based on analysis of stomach content (L
EŚNIEWICZ AND PERZANOWSKI 1989), scats
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 1992, ŚMIETANA AND KLIMEK 1993, NOWAK et al. 2005a, 2011) and prey
KARMA 1984, 1991, JĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2000, NOWAK et al. 2005, ŚMIETANA
2005). Scientists have studied the importance of snow cover on efficiency of wolf predation
and prey selectivity (B
OBEK et al. 1992, JĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 1992, GULA 2004). The wolf’s
diet has also been compared with the diet of other species (Okarma 1984, Reig and
ĘDRZEJEWSKI 1998, JĘDRZEJEWSKI i in. 1989, MUSZYŃSKA 1996, JĘDRZEJEWSKA AND
JĘDRZEJEWSKI 1998). OKARMA (1995) evaluated biogeographical patterns of wolf diet in
forest ecosystems in Europe.
Numerous articles have been published focussing on various aspects of
impact of wolf predation on wild ungulate populations. During a long-term project conducted
in the Białowieża Primeval Forest, the wolf kill rate was assessed (J
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al.
2002b). The importance of wolf predation among other ungulate mortality factors has also
been widely analysed (O
KARMA et al. 1995, GŁOWACIŃSKI AND PROFUS 1997, JĘDRZEJEWSKA
et al. 1997, K
AMLER et al. 2007), and its economic significance viewed from the hunting
OBEK et al. 1995). JĘDRZEJEWSKA et al. (1994) evaluated the effect of forest
exploitation and protection on wolf predation in the Białowieża Primeval Forest. Selva et al.
(2005) studied the importance of wolf prey remains for scavengers. According to the results
of these studies, Polish wolves prey mainly on wild ungulates (85-98% of biomass eaten),
livestock constitutes less than 4% of food biomass. Red deer
and roe deer
are the main kills (42-80% of biomass and 23-58% of biomass
respectively), followed by wild boar
. In both species of deer, wolves often select
females and juveniles. In wild boar, mainly piglets are eaten. In the Białowieża Primeval
Forest, a wolf pack kills on average 3 ungulates per week. Mean daily food intake is 5.8 kg
per wolf and per capita kill rate averages 42.3 ungulates per year.
Damage to livestock.
As damage to livestock is frequently associated with wolf predation,
this topic has also been subject to frequent analysis in Poland. Studies have covered the
behaviour of wolves that pursue livestock (K
OSSAK 1998), factors affecting damage in
domestic animals (B
OBEK et al. 1998c, NOWAK et al. 2005a, GULA 2008) and the economic
OBEK et al. 1998b, NOWAK et al. 2005b). Consequently, there are also publications
presenting experiences with application of Livestock Guarding Dogs (N
OWAK AND MYSŁAJEK
MIETANA 2006) and other livestock protection methods in Poland (NOWAK AND
MYSŁAJEK 1999, 2006, NOWAK ET AL. 2005B).
Development of molecular methods has allowed researchers to study genetic
diversity and relatedness within packs in the Białowieża Primeval Forest (J
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al.
2005), and wolf dispersal patterns in the eastern Carpathians (G
ULA et al. 2009). On a
broader scale, the population genetic structure (P
ILOT et al. 2006) and phylogeography of
wolves in Europe (P
ILOT et al. 2010) were determined. Polish scientists were also involved in
studies on the evolutionary history of canids (
VAN HOLDT et al 2011). Recently, a paper
describing mitochondrial and microsatellite DNA structure of Polish wolves was published
ZARNOMSKA et al. 2013). Genetic studies on a local population inhabiting BPF (Polish part,
where wolves are protected, and the Belarussian part where wolves are intensely hunted),
have shown that the typical wolf pack is composed of a family group (two unrelated adults
plus their offspring from the current and possibly earlier years). However, severe hunting of
wolves has led to instability of packs, fast turnover of individuals, breeding among close
relatives and adoption of lone unrelated individuals by small packs. Analyses of wolf DNA
extracted from faeces collected throughout the whole of Poland from 2001-2009 showed
notable isolation of the Carpathian population of wolves from the lowland populations,
suggesting that wolves colonizing the western part of the country mostly come from the
north-eastern part of the wolf range. In the whole of Central-Eastern Europe, analyses of
mitochondrial DNA revealed five distinct subpopulations of wolves. Such genetic
differentiation among local populations – in the absence of an obvious physical barrier to
movement – was correlated with ecological factors: climate, habitat types, and wolf diet
composition (dominant species of ungulates).
The behaviour of wolves living in the wild is relatively hard to study, but
despite methodological difficulties, researches in Poland have attempted to evaluate their
howling activity (N
OWAK et al. 2007), patterns of territory marking (ZUB et al. 2004),
reproductive behaviour (S
CHMIDT et al. 2008) and process of pack splitting (JĘDRZEJEWSKI et
al. 2004b). Studies on territory marking revealed that scats and urine marks are mostly
concentrated around the breeding dens, not along the borders of territories. In lowlands,
pups are born in excavated dens, whereas in the mountains (rocks, thin layer of soil) – in
dense thicket or under the roots of fallen trees. During the pup rearing season, wolves
frequently change their denning sites. In the BPF, females rearing young used on average
2.25 dens during a 60-day denning period. Study of wolf communication has documented
that spontaneous howling, intra-pack communication (between pack mates, adults and pups,
before and after hunts) prevailed over inter-pack signalling such as territory advertising or
warning against strangers.
Diseases can cause population decrease and even local extinctions, so
studies focusing on animal health are of great importance from the perspective of species
management. In Poland, researches have mostly concentrated on internal parasites and
covered many local wolf populations (K
LOCH et al. 2005, POPIOŁEK et al. 2007, SZCZĘSNA-
TAŚKIEWICZ 2009, SZAFRAŃSKA et al. 2010, PIRÓG 2011). Study based on scats analyses as
well as examination of dead wolves has revealed the presence of 19 species of helminth
parasites in wolves in Poland. At 67.37%, mean prevalence of helminth infection is high in
the country, but even higher in the lowlands (72.4 %), where the most frequent species is
Alaria alata, and much lower in the Carpathian Mts. (46.2 %), where the most frequent
parasites belong to the Capillariidae family and
. In half the cases,
wolves in the lowlands were infected with two or more parasites (up to six), in mountains
mostly with one. Thus wolves in the lowlands are more affected by helminth. Also, three
protozoan parasites have already been reported from north-eastern Poland.
sp. were found in 65 % of scats of wolves living in the Napiwoda-Ramuki
forest (NE Poland). A first case of babesiosis (
) was diagnosed in a tame
wolf in BPF after being bitten by a tick (K
ARBOWIAK et al. 2008).
Ongoing or recently completed conservation and research projects concerning
wolves in Poland
1) Ongoing. National wolf census (wolf number and distribution). Leading institutions: the
Mammal Research Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Białowieża in co-operation
with the Association for Nature “Wolf”. Project supportedby the State Forest Service,
EuroNatur, and budgets of both leading institutions.
2) Ongoing. Studies on wolf genetics in Poland (phylogeography, genetic diversity, etc.).
Various projects conducted by several institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences
(Mammal Research Institute in Białowieża, Museum and Institute of Zoology in Warszawa,
Institute of Nature Conservation in Kraków). Funded by grants from the Ministry of Science
and Higher Education, the National Science Centre and budgets of responsible institutions.
3) Ongoing. Monitoring and conservation of wolves recolonising western Poland (studies on
pack distribution, number, habitat preferences and the diet of wolves repopulating western
Poland, education and public awareness, promotion of livestock protection measures).
Project conducted by the Association for Nature “Wolf”. Funded by the International Fund for
Animal Welfare (IFAW), EuroNatur and Wolves and Humans Fundation.
4) Ongoing. Monitoring of the impact of the new section of the A4 motorway on the wolf
population in the Lower Silesian Forest, SW Poland. The project includes monitoring of the
local wolf population and monitoring of effectiveness of wildlife crossing structures for wolves
and their prey, recommended by the Environmental Impact Assessment. Project conducted
by FPP Consulting Ltd. (fauna passages monitoring) and Wildlife Consulting (wolf population
monitoring). Funded by the National Agency of Motorways and National Roads.
5) Ongoing. Internal parasites of wolves. Studies on parasites of wolves in Poland based on
faeces and intestines from wolves killed incidentally. Conducted by the Department of
Systematics and Ecology of Invertebrates of the Wrocław University of Environmental and
Life Sciences. Own funds.
6) Ongoing. Behavior of captive wolves (studies on various aspects of behavior of wolves in
captivity). Conducted by the Department of Zoology at the Poznań University of Live
Sciences, with own funds.
7) Ongoing. Large carnivores in Poland (education, public awareness, promotion of livestock
protection methods, etc.). Project of the WWF Poland. Funded by the EEA Financial
Mechanism and Norwegian Financial Mechanism.
8) Ongoing. Ecology and conservation of wolves in the Western Carpathians. Studies on
distribution, number, habitat preferences and the diet of wolves in the Silesian Beskid Mts.,
Zywiecki Beskid Mts. and Mały Beskid Mts., education of key groups, promotion of livestock
protection methods. Project conducted by the Association for Nature “Wolf”. Funded by the
the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, EuroNatur, Wolves and Humans Foundation.
9) Ongoing. Strengthening of the conservation status of the wolf population. Inventory and
protection of breeding sites, promotion of livestock protection methods, education. Project
conducted by the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection in Katowice. Funded by
the Provincial Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in Katowice.
10) Ongoing. Protection of biodiversity in forests, including the Natura 2000 network -
promotion of best practices. Project dedicated to large carnivores and other species, focused
on education of foresters and local communities and public awareness. Project conducted by
the Centre of Coordination of Environmental Projects. Funded by LIFE+ and and National
Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management.
11) Ongoing. Cooperation and competition in the family group of a top predator - spatio-
temporal interactions among wolves. Studies on selected aspects of ecology in the Lower
Silesian Forest). Institute of Nature Conservation of the Polish Academy of Sciences in
Kraków and Museum and Institute of Zoology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in
Warszawa. Funded by a grant of the National Centre of Science.
12) Recently completed. Elaboration of national strategies for management of selected
endangered or conflict species. The project was conducted by the Warsaw University of Life
Sciences. Funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the National Fund for
Environmental Protection and Water Management.
13) Recently completed. Wolf, Bison, Beaver – campaign for damage reduction (education of
farmers, promotion of livestock protection methods, public awareness). Project of the
Foundation “Green Lungs of Poland”. Funded by EU European Regional Development Fund
and National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management.
14) Recently completed. Ecology of wolves in Bieszczady Mountains.Studies on various
aspects of wolf ecology in Eastern Carpathians. Conducted by the Museum and Institute of
Zoology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. Funded by a grant of the Ministry of
Science and Higher Education.
15) Recently completed. In a few words about otter, beaver and wolf (education, public
awareness). Project was conducted by the Foundation of the Support of Environmental
Initiatives. Funded by National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management
and Regional Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in Kraków.
Availability of habitats, number of wolves and prey species
The model of habitats suitable for wolves in Poland was developed by the Mammal Research
Institute PAS in Białowieża (J
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2008). Data on distribution and numbers of
wolves were based on a large-scale wolf census conducted by scientists, foresters and staff
of national parks since 2000. Spatial analyses were done with GIS tools using data on land
use (CORINE Land Cover 2000), density of roads and density of ungulates within 10×10 km
cells with wolf presence. The frequency of records of wolf presence in a given category of
land use allowed to select environments most willingly occupied by wolves, and to indicate
areas which potentially meet the habitat requirements of the species. The area of selected
environments and size of the wolf population in eastern Poland provided a basis for
assessment of the potential numbers of wolf in the remaining part of the country. The results
were then verified, taking into account food availability (biomass of wild ungulates per 1 km
Habitat suitability modelling for wolf population was done twice and gave similar results
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2008, HUCK et al. 2010). The extent of habitats that are generally
suitable for wolves was estimated at 61,555 km
(JĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2008), among which
the best habitats covers 26,133 km
(HUCK et al. 2010). The model showed that in the
regions west of the river Vistula there are about 39,000 km
of forest tracts suitable for wolf
habitation, while the main wolf range in eastern Poland comprises 22.600 km
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2008). Habitat modelling allowed researchers to estimate the number of
wolves that could potentially live in Poland. The most probable population size varies
between 1,450 and 1,540 individuals, but can be as high as 1,720 individuals (J
et al. 2008). More than 900 individuals are able to live in western Poland.
Poland is inhabited by six species of native wild ungulate – roe deer
, European bison
, and three species of non-native ones – fallow
, sika deer
AWRZYNIAK et al.
2008). However, only roe deer, red deer and wild boar are important components of wolf diet
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 1992, ŚMIETANA AND KLIMEK 1993, NOWAK et al. 2005, 2011), mostly
because of the limited range and low number of other species.
Mild winters have amongst other things been one of the reasons for the significant increase
in the number of wild ungulates in Poland in the past ten years. According to hunters’
inventories of game species, in the year 2000 there were 117,000 red deer, 600,000 roe deer
and 180,000 wild boars, whereas in 2010 hunters estimated the number of red deer in
Poland to have risen to 180,200 individuals, the number of roe deer to 822,000 and the
number of wild boar to 249,900 (GUS, 2010). During the last four years, the harvest of these
species has also increased and now comprises 25% for red deer, 31% for roe deer and 84%
for wild boar, encompassing 51,000, 176,000 and 218,000 animals, respectively in 2010.
Over 60% of the wild ungulate populations live in western Poland, where densities of wild
boars are the biggest, and densities of red deer and roe deer are one of the biggest in our
Mean biomass of ungulates in Poland varies between forest complexes from 65 to 295
, but on average is relatively high at 200 kg/km
and sufficient for the vital wolf
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2008).
Protection of wolf habitats within Natura 2000 sites
The wolf is listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive. Therefore numerous Natura 2000 sites
have been designated to protect habitats of this species in Poland (Fig. 8, appendix 2).
Altogether, 73 sites, with total area of 15,284 km
, protect wolf habitats in the entire country.
This network covers about 25 % of suitable wolf habitats in Poland (J
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al.
Most of sites are located in eastern Poland (37 sites, total area 9,137 km
) and in the
Carpathians (15 sites, total area 4,268 km
), because of the highest density and most stable
range of the species in both regions. The largest sites, which may host at least several wolf
packs, are: „Ostoja Knyszyńska“ (the Knyszyn Forest, 1,361 km
), „Dolina Biebrzy“ (the
Biebrza river valley, 1,212 km
), „Bieszczady“ (the Bieszczady Mountains, 1,115 km
„Ostoja Augustowska“ (the Augustów forest, 1,071 km
In western and central Poland there are also Natura 2000 sites which protect important wolf
habitats (21 sites, total area 1,880 km
). The biggest site is called „Uroczyska Puszczy
Drawskiej“(the Drawa forest, 744 km
, NW Poland).
Fig. 8: Natura 2000 sites protecting wolf habitats in Poland. Map: AfN “Wolf”.
Fig. 9: Natura 2000 sites protecting wolf habitats in Poland set against wolf distribution. Map: AfN
Improving connectivity of wolf habitats and populations
In the Polish lowlands, even the largest forests may host a maximum of 6 - 8 wolf packs,
giving a total of 30 - 50 wolves per forest. Thus, as single areas, they are too small to
harbour viable populations of these carnivores. However, the species has survived because
individuals have been able to migrate between forests. This movement of individuals helps to
maintain genetic diversity and allows repopulating habitats that have become vacant due to
death of resident wolves from different causes. Thus all three Polish wolf (sub)populations
(Carpathian, Baltic and Central European) include a number of population segments
occupying forests connected by migration corridors. As a result of studies focussing on
habitat availability and connectivity in which wolves and lynx were used as target species,
the project “Ecological corridors linking Natura 2000 sites” was developed in Poland
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2005). Within the scope of planned expansion of the country’s
transportation network, the ecological corridors network was involved in identifying the
biggest conflicts and locating road sections where mitigation measures should be introduced.
The analyses and publications recommending the best measures to mitigate the problems
was completed just before the most intense activity connected with new infrastructure
planning and building commenced (J
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2004c, 2005c). As a result, several
hundred wildlife crossing structures were planned and have been built on Polish motorways
and express roads. Several fauna passes have also been built on upgraded railway sections.
A law on environmental impact assessment (EIA) of transportation infrastructure on habitats
has already been introduced in Poland, as well as regulations concerning use of mitigation
measures for road investments, such as wildlife passages. Many problems remain to be
resolved, such as, in some cases, inadequate design, size, location, number of fauna passes
and low permeability of roads overall. But in general the mitigation measures introduced in
Poland set a good example compared with other European countries. Recently monitoring of
use of fauna passes has started on several road sections (e.g. A4, A1, S8). Furthermore,
long-term monitoring of the impact of transportation infrastructure on the wolf population in
the Lower Silesian forest is being conducted. Thus, based on the results of these studies, it
will be possible in the near future to recommend the most efficient and cost effective
measures to mitigate the threat of habitat fragmentation.
In Poland, several attempts have been made to designate a national network of ecological
corridors. The first project was executed as a part of the European Ecological Network
IRO et al. 1995, LIRO 1998). Within this network, ecological corridors linked
nodes which consisted of areas with habitats, communities and species preserved in a near-
natural state. Because the project referred mostly to aquatic habitats and substantially
neglected terrestrial ecosystems, the main corridors were mostly situated along rivers.
Next, projects aimed to designate a network of Natura 2000 protected areas. The first
proposal was based on EECONET-PL, but it turned out to be insufficient (K
WEIGLE 2003). Consequently, the Polish Ministry of the Environment commissioned a project
of ecological corridors to ensure ecological connectivity of the Natura 2000 sites
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2005c, Fig. 7). This network also includes most other legally protected
areas like national parks, landscape parks, nature reserves and areas of protected
landscape as well as other terrains of great natural value and high biodiversity. The corridors
were based on reconstruction of historical dispersal pathways and on analyses of the current
dispersal routes of wolves and lynx, but also on results of genetic research on wolves in
Central and Eastern Europe.
Fig. 10: Network of ecological corridors in Poland (according to Jędrzejewski et al. 2005c).
Currently, regional ecological corridor projects have already been developed or are under
preparation in most of Polish provinces. These projects are mainly based on the national
corridor network mentioned above, making them more detailed. In almost all provinces
ecological corridors will be integrated into the new spatial management plans (M
IELMA et al. 2009).
Prevention of damage and conflicts, financial compensation
Wolves in Poland mostly feed on wild ungulates, which constitute up to 97% of the biomass
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 1992, 2000, OKARMA 1995, NOWAK et al. 2005, ŚMIETANA AND
KLIMEK 1993, ŚMIETANA 2000, NOWAK et al. 2011). Domestic animals contribute
approximately 1-3% of the biomass of a wolf’s diet, but less than half of Polish wolf packs
prey on livestock. Cases of depredation on livestock by wolves are not evenly distributed in
Poland. In the lowlands, damage is frequent in north-eastern Poland, but rare in eastern and
western Poland. In the Carpathian Mts. depredation is widespread in the eastern and central
parts, but rarer in the western-most part of the mountains. Wherever livestock is taken,
wolves prey most frequently on sheep and goats (in mountains) and cattle (in lowlands), and
occasionally on dogs, cats and horses. Since 2005 (when re-colonisation began to speed up)
there have only been few attacks on livestock in western Poland: several calves, 3 goats and
5-6 sheep. Additionally, wolf depredation has taken place at 4 fallow deer and mouflon farms,
where a total of 50 animals were killed (N
OWAK et al 2011, NOWAK AND MYSŁAJEK 2011,
The level of damage varies from year to year, and depends on weather conditions and length
of the grazing season. On average, the number of domestic animals killed is 1000 animals
per year in Poland, and in 2004-2011 ranged between 800 and 1200 animals. From 1999-
2008 the biggest share amongst livestock killed by wolves was sheep (75.5%), followed by
cattle (19%), goats (3.5%), horses (0.5%) and others (1.5%, dogs, pigs, ostrich)
(Jędrzejewski et al. unpubl.). There is a significant difference between regions. The number
of livestock killed is highest in mountain regions (up to 1100 animals, sheep 92%) and is
more or less increasing. In the lowlands, where cattle dominate (88% of kills), the level of
damage is stable or has decreased slightly. The species structure of killed livestock
corresponds well to the density of farms breeding these animals within the different regions
(Jędrzejewski et al. unpubl.).
In Poland, methods of damage prevention are promoted through projects conducted by non-
governmental organizations, scientific institutions, directorates of landscape parks and
regional directorates for environmental protection. There are books (N
OWAK AND MYSŁAJEK
1999, 2006), book chapters (M
YSŁAJEK 2009), booklets (ŚMIETANA 2006), leaflets (ŚMIETANA
2010) and webpage (e.g.
describing how to protect livestock
against wolf attacks in Poland. Among the most recommended methods of damage
prevention are: Livestock Guarding Dogs – a Polish breed called “owczarek podhalański”
(eng. Tatra Mountains Shepherd Dog, Tatra Shepherd Dog or Tatra Sheep Dog) (N
MYSŁAJEK 2005, ŚMIETANA 2005), electric fences (ŚMIETANA 2010) and fladry (NOWAK
AND MYSŁAJEK 1999, 2006).
According to the Polish Nature Conservation Act, financial compensation for damage caused
by wolves to livestock is paid by the State. Damage assessment and determining the amount
of compensation as well as its payment is made by regional directorates for environmental
protection (RDEP). The only exception is damage caused within national parks, where the
director of the park is responsible. Financial compensation covers the value of the animals
killed and, if necessary, the cost of veterinary treatment of injured individuals and costs of
disposal of cadavers. Compensation does not include the loss of expected income, e.g. milk,
wool or offspring, from which the owner would have profited if the animals had stayed alive.
RDEP may develop programs of wolf damage prevention amongst local farmers. Farmers
who refuse to take part in such programs are not reimbursed when wolves attack their
livestock. Additionally, compensation is not paid if livestock is left unprotected on a remote
There are some differences between the provinces in how the compensation systems
function, but generally the pattern is the same. One to two days after a wolf attack on
domestic animals has happened, a special commission including RDEP specialists inspects
the place of kill, examines killed livestock and checks signs left by predators, but also the
prevention methods used by the farmer. A detailed report of the damage is prepared and
handed to the owner to be signed. The amount of compensation paid by the RDEP is based
on the report and a regional price list for husbandry animals. If the decision to reimburse the
loss is accepted, within a few weeks or months the money is paid to the livestock breeder. In
some cases, when the provincial budget is limited, payment can be delayed until the
following year. If the farmer does not agree with the estimation or the final decision, there is a
possibility to sue the Head of the RDEP.
The mean sum of compensations paid to livestock owners from 2008 - 2010 was 391,000
PLN (Euro 94,900) per year (Fig. 8). This is 6.5% of the total amount of compensation (about
5.956,000 PLN – Euro 1,445.700) paid to farmers for damage caused by protected animal
species (wolf, bear, lynx, bison and beaver). Interestingly, compensation paid for beavers
made up 87.3% of the total sum.
Fig. 11: Compensation paid to farmers for damage caused by wolves in Poland, 2000-2010. The
numbers for 2005 - 2007 are not available.
Discussion with and involvement of stakeholders and interest groups. Cooperation of
ministries/agencies/institutions/NGO involved in wolf management
There are several important issues associated with wolf conservation in Poland with respect
to which various institutions have cooperated. Of these, wolf population monitoring and
prevention of damage to livestock seem to be the most important.
The biggest and longest national wolf census project was conducted by staff of the State
Forest Service (more than 240 forest divisions) and national parks, as well as by scientists
and volunteers belonging to non-governmental organizations. The project was jointly co-
ordinated by scientific (Mammal Research Institute Polish Academy of Science) and non-
governmental (Association for Nature “Wolf”) institutions. Similar cooperation schemes have
also been implemented within the scope of monitoring projects conducted in several
provinces (e.g. Zachodniopomorskie Province, Upper Silesian Province, Podkarpackie
Several programmes have been launched to implement and promote methods of livestock
protection against wolf attacks in Poland. They are conducted at regional scale by non-
governmental organizations (Association for Nature “Wolf”, Foundation “Green lungs of
Poland”, WWF), but mostly in cooperation with scientific institutions, landscape parks and
regional directorates for environmental protection. Moreover, the Association for Nature
“Wolf” organises training sessions on livestock protection methods and damage assessment
for staff of regional directorates for environmental protection, as well as training programmes
on wolf monitoring methods for staff of various governmental and non-governmental
institutions. Currently, several projects are being initiated where cooperation and involvement
by different stakeholders are planned. See above for details of ongoing or recently
terminated conservation and research projects concerning wolves in Poland.
EU and national working groups established for information exchange and coordination
At international level, the most known working group dealing with wolf conservation is the
Wolf Specialists Group within the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the World
Conservation Union (IUCN). Moreover, at the European level the Large Carnivore Initiative
for Europe should be mentioned, which has had the official status of Specialist Group within
SSC IUCN since 2010. Poland has a representative in both bodies.
Working groups have also been organized between neighbouring countries to deal with
problems and issues relating to transboundary wolf conservation. A special wolf working
group has been established within the Polish-German Council for Environmental Protection
since 2009. The group holds meetings once or twice a year. Moreover, a Polish-Slovakian
large carnivore working group has also been proposed by Polish NGOs. On a bilateral
seminar organised in Krakow in spring 2011 by the Polish General Directorate of
Environment recommendation to establish the LC group was agreed. In June 2012 on the
first meeting of the Polish-Slovakian LC Working Group a preliminary agreement on creating
buffer zones along Polish-Slovakian border to protect transborder populations of wolves and
bears was achieved. The proposed buffer zones include a 23 km hunting ban zone for
wolves and a 10 km zone without regulare culling of bears on the Slovakian side, and a 46
km zone of close cooperation and data exchange about LC on both sides of the borderline. A
final decision of the Slovakian government on creating these zones is still pending.
There is no established national working group for information exchange and coordination of
wolf conservation and management in Poland. However, before taking most decisions
regarding wolves, the Ministry of the Environment and the General Directorate for
Environmental Protection seek the opinion of the National Council for Nature Conservation
(NCNC), which, under the Nature Conservation Act, functions as an advisory body for both
institutions. The NCNC consists of 40 specialists – mostly scientists from various institutions
and representatives of non-governmental organizations. The NCNC is divided into several
commissions, and wolf issues are discussed within the Animal Conservation Commission,
the CITES Commission and Natura 2000 Commission. Each province also has a regional
council for nature conservation, which acts as advisory body to regional directorates for
environmental protection. If necessary, they may also discuss issues connected with wolf
conservation at a regional scale.
A project of the National Wolf Conservation and Management Strategy (O
KARMA et al.
1998a), and a recently prepared project of the Wolf Conservation Strategy/Programme
KARMA et al. 2011) proposed to establish the National Wolf Working Group; however, so
far, none of these proposals have been accepted by the Polish government.
Favourable reference population in Germany
So far, favourable nationwide reference values have not been defined. With respect to the
favourable reference population, Germany refers to the EU-wide definition given in the
guidelines of L
INNELL et al. (2008). This definition (see 5.1) was adopted in the standards for
monitoring of large carnivores in Germany (K
ACZENSKY et al. 2009), which were accepted by
all the Länder. It is interpreted as meaning that the definition refers to the population as a
whole and not just to the German portion. As long as Germany does not have the data to
conduct a robust PVA, the threshold for FCS would be IUCN Red List Criteria D (> 1000
mature individuals). Non-biologists frequently state that with some connection between
neighbouring populations criteria D can be reduced to 250 individuals – this is wrong.
INNELL et al. (2008) clearly describe the extent of the connection needed between two
populations to downgrade the threat category by one level: The population is connected to a
neighbouring population in such a way that immigration can have a significant demographic
effect on the extinction probability of the population and the resulting combined populations
exceed the minimum threat level.
Although Germany had in 2012 less than 20 reproducing packs, and first genetic results
show a considerable amount of inbreeding (which means the effective population size will be
way below 40), the question is raised again and again: How many wolves are enough? The
answer is given in chapter 5.1 and above. Favourable conservation status is the minimum
goal; there are no recommendations for the maximum goal. The intention of the Habitats
Directive appears to be that countries should not set a limit on potential large carnivore
expansion even once they have reached (together with neighbouring countries) a minimum
level of FCS (L
INNELL et al. 2008).
However, it is clearly acknowledged that LC conservation in a crowded place like Europe is
challenging and there might be reasons to selectively remove animals or limit their number /
distribution at certain levels. Accordingly, equivalent management actions are considered to
be both compatible with their conservation and even useful for gaining / maintaining public
acceptance for such exceptional circumstances (L
INNELL et al. 2008). Therefore, derogations
may be used on the way to achieving the goal of gaining and maintaining FCS.
In order to use such derogations not only as single exceptional actions but in a more
systematic manner (e.g. slowing down population growth or reduction of the density in some
areas), in a federalist country like Germany, two conditions must be in place: 1) a nationwide
(and preferably population- based) coordinated management plan and 2) a nationwide (and
preferably population based) monitoring system that is able to predict the impacts of such
actions in detail and also follow up the actions to determine their effect in respect to attaining
Monitoring of wolves in Germany
The standards in place for monitoring of large carnivores in Germany (K
ACZENSKY et al.
2009) are a first step on the way to attaining the second precondition. They define:
what signs of large carnivores, under what conditions, can qualify as hard evidence
(C1), confirmed observation (C2) or unconfirmed observation (C3),
how hard evidence and observations are to be documented, and methods that are to
be used for data collection.
Furthermore, they specify how the area of occurrence (and its trend), the range and the
population size of LC species are to be documented in Germany. The standards aim to
harmonise interpretation of monitoring data across the Länder and are thus the precondition
for a reliable nationwide assessment of the status of wolf and lynx.
To estimate the area of occurrence and population size only hard evidence and confirmed
observations are to be used. As recommended in the supporting texts for the Habitats
Directive, the area of occurrence is based on a 10 x 10 km grid-cell network (EU grid). A grid
cell will be considered as occupied if one C1 or at least three independent C2 signs of
wolves have been provided for it. Grid cells with only C3 signs (e.g. sightings) or too few C2
are not considered to be occupied by wolves; rather, monitoring has to be improved in these
areas in order to obtain clarification. Population size is given yearly as an index of the
number of packs and scent marking pairs. Packs (> 2 wolves), scent marking pairs or single
resident wolves have to be confirmed via C1 or C2 data as well as reproduction or the
minimum pack size.
Neighbouring packs are distinguished from each other if either:
reproduction has been confirmed at the same time in both areas OR
reproduction was confirmed > 10km apart OR
one pack territory is known by telemetry OR
two centers of activity have been confirmed (by camera traps or accumulation of
tracks / scats) at the same time more than 10km apart
The German monitoring standards for large carnivores (K
ACZENSKY et al. 2009) are currently
under revision and the rules above are likely to be changed.
Since conservation and consequently monitoring too is carried out under the jurisdiction of
the Länder, this is also true for data evaluation and interpretation. However, consistent data
interpretation cannot be achieved with monitoring standards alone, especially if people in
charge do not have the necessary field experience. To calibrate monitoring data between the
Länder, and to avoid double counting of transboundary territories a yearly meeting of the
persons in charge of LC monitoring is conducted. At the meeting, all C1 and C2 data used for
the area of occurrence (occupied grid cells) and population size have to be presented and
can be re-evaluated by the group. By doing so a yearly nationwide picture of wolf occurrence
and population size is obtained.
Monitoring effort varies greatly between the Länder according to their different monitoring
structures. Because of this variation the resulting overall picture is incomplete. While we may
have reasonably accurate estimates of areas of occurrence and population size from some
areas, on a nationwide scale these figures are likely to be underestimated.
Since 2010, the Senckenberg Institute, a German reference lab, has been available for
genetic analysis of wolf and lynx. However, although genetic samples are collected from
fresh scats in all known wolf areas, not all are analysed. Consequently we only have an
incomplete picture of the genetic structure of the German part of the wolf population. This
makes it more difficult to assess the conservation status for the still small and fragmented
population. For example, to evaluate the connectivity with neighbouring populations as
complete a genetic picture as possible would be necessary. The different sampling efforts
will make robust capture-recapture analysis more difficult. Although modern models account
for IDH, resulting confidence intervals will be large, increasing the uncertainty of population
Projects and scientific research on wolf biology and management
The Senckenberg Museum for Natural History in Görlitz (SMNG, former Saxonian State
Museum of Natural History Görlitz) started analysis of wolf scats in 2001. To date, diet
analyses of more than 3000 scats have been conducted (A
NSORGE et al. 2006, WAGENER
OLZAPFEL et al. 2011), most from the Lusation wolf area in Saxony and southern
Brandenburg. Meanwhile, most Länder with wolf occurrence send their wolf scat samples for
dietary analysis to the SMNG.
In 2005, the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) financed by the BMU
commissioned a technical paper on future wolf management in Germany. This report
EINHARDT AND KLUTH 2007) sets out as a basic concept for wolf management plans
developed by the various Länder. It deals to a great extent with challenges and solution
statements for the return of the wolf in the human dominated landscape of Germany. A
broad-scale human attitude study (Kaczensky 2006), a first habitat analysis (H
2006) and a report on methods of resolution for wolf – hunter conflicts (W
2006) were conducted in the frame of this report.
From 2007 to 2011 a dispersal study was conducted on behalf of the BfN by LUPUS Wildlife
Consulting. This pilot study provided first results on wolf dispersal in Germany as well as
results on habitat use and territory sizes. Six wolves were captured and fitted with GPS-GSM
collars in the frame of this project (R
EINHARDT AND KLUTH 2011).
In the “Framework plan Wolf” fundamentals were developed for management concepts for
the return of large carnivores. These included monitoring standards for large carnivores in
ACZENSKY et al. 2009), habitat models for wolf, lynx and bear (KNAUER 2010),
synopsis and evaluation of damage prevention and compensation schemes (R
al. 2010) as well as an assessment of large carnivore individuals showing problematic
behaviour and recommendations on how to deal with them (P
ROJECT TEAM 2010).
Since 2010, genetic analysis of wolf samples has been conducted at the Senckenberg
Institute for Nature Conservation Science (Gelnhausen). In 2010 and 2011, some 500
samples were analysed, 460 of which originated from Saxony.
From the outset, the Leibnitz institute for Zoo- and Wildlife Research Berlin (IZW) has
investigated the carcasses of wolves found dead in order to determine the cause of death, as
well as the histological and parasitological status. Although the carcasses are returned to the
Länder where they came from after analysis, most, but not all Länder send their wolf
carcasses to the IZW. Currently, the IZW plans to conduct a parasitological study of wolves
In 2011, Saxony-Anhalt launched a project entitled “Study of the spatio-temporal behaviour
of wolves in Saxony-Anhalt”. In the frame of this project two wolves have been fitted with
From 2012 on, Saxony plans, within the scope of its wolf monitoring activities, to fit wolves in
several territories with GPS transmitters. In 2012, the territories of ten wolf packs in the
Lusation wolf area (Saxony and Brandenburg) already border each other, making it more and
more difficult for monitoring to keep track of newly established wolf territories. This study is
supported financially by the WWF Germany, NABU, IFAW and GzSdW.
Since 2009, a red deer telemetry project has been conducted in the Saxonian wolf area.
During the next few years results from both wolves and red deer telemetry will be linked to
Availability of habitats and prey species
NAUER (2010) conducted a habitat analysis of wolves in Germany based on the model of
Jedrzejewsky et al. 2008. According to his results, Germany could harbour about 440 wolf
packs if territory sizes were in the order of 200 km², which is a reasonable size (R
KLUTH 2011). According to this model there are large areas offering suitable habitats
from the Polish border to the Luneburg Heath in the north-west, in the forest covered low
mountain ranges in the south-west of Germany as well as in the Alps and the alpine foothills.
However, the suitable habitat is rather fragmented in many places.
Wild ungulates are the wolf’s natural prey. If ungulate harvest rates are taken as a basis for
ungulate abundance, wild ungulates are abundant in many regions of Germany, especially in
the north-east and south-west (H
ERTWECK 2006, REINHARDT AND KLUTH 2007). However,
there are other areas with low or very low hunting bags of hoofed game like in the west of
Lower Saxony, Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia. Some of these areas were identified as
suitable habitats for wolves in the habitat model of K
NAUER (2010). However, the model did
not take ungulate abundance into account.
Improving connectivity of wolf habitats and populations
With 1.9 km/km², Germany has the highest road density in Europe
Accordingly, habitat fragmentation has become a major challenge for the international and
national goal of restoring and maintaining biodiversity. To conserve biological diversity in the
long term barriers in the form of existing or planned transportation infrastructure have to be
overcome and habitats re-linked to each other. In this context, the German Federal Agency
for Nature Conservation commissioned scientists from the Ecology Centre in Kiel and the
Department of Ecological Site and Vegetation Science of the University of Kassel to identify
priority sites for measures to overcome road-related barriers, which will serve as a basis for a
connectivity concept for biodiversity in the Federal Republic of Germany (H
ÄNEL AND RECK
2010, 2011). In February 2012, a “Federal reintegration program” was adopted by the federal
cabinet. The project aims at relinking habitat corridors that have been cut through by the
supraregional road network. Focussing on the main areas of conflict that have been
identified, the project’s goal is to permanently safeguard ecological interactions by recreating
a biotope network. The main content of the project is an investment program for green
In its national strategy for biological diversity, the German federal government has committed
itself to ensuring that by 2020 the transportation infrastructure will no longer impair the
habitat connectivity system. Clearly the wolf, as a wide roaming species of enormous
dispersal ability, will benefit from this measure. In the comparatively sparsely populated
Lusation wolf area, road density is still 1.29 km / km² and therefore much higher than in most
wolf areas of Europe (R
EINHARDT AND KLUTH 2011). So far, road traffic accidents are the
main known causes of wolf mortality.
Prevention of damages and conflicts, financial compensation
In 2010, R
EINHARDT et al. collected information on prevention and compensation payment
schemes in Germany on behalf of the BfN and compared them to those of other European
countries. Because of the Germany’s federalist structure, these systems differ considerably
from Land to Land. Two of the Länder with wolf presence (Saxony and Brandenburg) have
linked compensation to prevention, several other Länder consider doing so. While in
Germany several Länder discuss lower or upper limits for payment of compensation if
damage goes below or exceeds a financial limit, none of the other European countries /
regions has such thresholds.
Several German Länder have provided the legal framework ensuring financial support for
preventive measures and several more plan to do so in the future. Presently, Saxony
subsidizes the inititial cost of e-fences and livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) by up to 60 %,
Brandenburg by up to 75 % and Saxony-Anhalt by up to 80 %. Mecklenburg-Western
Pomerania subsidizes up to 75 % of additional prevention measures like higher fences,
protection against digging or LGDs. Measures belonging to the defined minimum prevention
standard are not funded in this Land. In Schleswig-Holstein, mitigation measures can be
subsidized by up to 100 %. So far, only hobby sheep owners can be supported in Saxony-
Anhalt, only professional sheep owners in Brandenburg, and both professional and hobby
sheep owners in Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. In Saxony, prevention and
compensation payment schemes are defined in the Management plan for the wolf in Saxony
ÄCHSISCHES STAATSMINISTERIUM FÜR UMWELT UND LANDWIRTSCHAFT, 2009). After a wolf
attack, compensation is only paid if the sheep or goats were protected according to a clearly
defined minimum prevention standard. This regulation came into effect in 2008 after a
transition period of one year during which owners of small livestock were informed about the
preventive methods conforming to the minimum prevention standard, funding opportunities
and the fact that compensation would be coupled with prevention. Brandenburg and
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania follow this approach.
In Germany, funding of preventive methods is recommended for small livestock only. Since
wolf depredation on cattle and horses is much less common in Europe (K
and only rarely happens in Germany, the costs of funding protection measures for large
livestock presently outweigh the benefits. Wild ungulates are abundant enough in many
regions of Germany; protection of small livestock will not force wolves to switch to large
livestock. In Saxony, funding of prevention measures is provided for livestock owners within
the confirmed wolf area and an additional 30 km radius. This approach requires intensive
monitoring. Wide areas of Saxony are densely populated (average population density 227 /
km²), making it unlikely that wolves will recolonize them. Therefore, costs and efforts are
focused on areas that are actually already inhabited by wolves. In contrast, Brandenburg
(average population density 85 / km²), expect the whole region to become populated by
wolves. Funding of prevention measures is provided for the whole country and is not linked
to the actual area of occurrence. Most of the German Länder already follow the Saxonian
model or plan to do so in future.
The amount of damages to livestock is not linked to the number of wolves, but to the
husbandry technique employed (K
ACZENSKY 1996). In Saxony, 335 livestock were killed or
wounded by wolves between 2002 and 2011, on average 33.5 animals per year. Altogether,
Euro 42,179 were paid in compensation, equating to Euro 4,218 per year (note that since
2008 unprotected livestock are no longer compensated). In Brandenburg, the damage was
about 283 livestock in the last five years, on average 56.6 per year. Euro 45,040.52 (Euro
9,008 per year) in compensation were paid during this time in Brandenburg (table 5).
Tab. 5: Development of damages to livestock and compensation payment in Saxony and
1 / 0
0 - -
1 / 0
0 - -
1 / 0
0 - -
2 / 0
0 - -
3 / 0
0 - -
3 / 0
0 / 1
5 / 0
0 / 1
5 / 0
1.5 / 3
5 / 0.5
1.5 / 4.5
7.5 / 0
85 5,886.59 6
sum 335 42,178.66 283 45,040.52
* since 2008 compensation is linked to prevention
** “half” packs / pairs are transboundary either between Saxony and Brandenburg or between
Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt. Two “half” packs are summed up to one pack, like in the
case of Brandenburg 2011.
Most livestock preyed on by wolves are sheep or occasionally goats. Sometimes wolves that
have learned to dig under fences kill red deer or fallow deer in game enclosures; very rarely
calves fall prey to wolves.
A considerable amount of damage is related to unprotected or insufficiently protected sheep,
easy prey for wolves. Of 34 wolf attacks in Saxony in 2011 with 88 head of livestock killed or
injured, 21 (44 animals) occurred on insufficiently protected livestock and were therefore not
Figure 12 corroborates the analysis presented by Kaczensky 1996 that the amount of
damage is not linked to the number of large carnivores. In Germany the number of damages
and compensation payment in 2008 (213 animals killed or wounded, Euro 24,010) and 2011
(215 animals, Euro 26,584) was almost the same although the wolf population was
considerably larger in 2011 than in 2008.
Fig. 12: Number of damages caused by wolves (above) and compensation payment (below) in
Germany. Data from all the Länder with occasional or permanent wolf presence included.
Discussions with and involvement of stakeholders and interest groups
In 2004, a public relations office focussing on the wolf and with the aim of providing interest
groups with serious up to date information was initiated by the Saxonian State Ministry of the
Environment and Agriculture (SMUL). This regional contact office “Wolves in Saxony”
(Kontaktbüro Wolfsregion Lausitz) is run under the auspices of the administrative district of
Görlitz and financed by the SMUL and the EU. The office was meant to function as a contact
point for the public, the media and all interest groups. It actively provides up to date, serious,
science-based information provided by monitoring in lectures, press releases and on an own
In addition, it organizes information events or round
tables on demand.
During the early years of wolf presence in Saxony, several discussion groups and round
tables were initiated involving all interest groups. The round table initiated in 2004 by the
regional contact office met several times. However, since the discussions at these meetings
were dominated by an anti wolf group (Sicherheit und Artenschutz e.V.) which insisted that
wolves in Saxony had been artificially reintroduced and were hybrids, more and more
attendees lost interest and the round table meetings finally petered out.
Informative meetings between sheep breeders in the Saxonian wolf area and LUPUS Wildlife
Consulting (responsible for monitoring) were held regularly during the early years. These
meetings were organized by the State Agency for Agriculture (Staatliches Amt für
Landwirtschaft und Gartenbau Großenhain). After several years the meetings ceased.
There have been several attempts to improve cooperation and information exchange with the
Saxonian Hunters association (SNLJV). Lectures were offered and reoffered to local hunting
communities by LUPUS Wildlife Consulting and the regional contact office “wolves in
Saxony”. Information days focussing on hunting topics were organized but poorly accepted.
An offer to implement working groups between hunters and monitors at the local hunting
community level was rejected. A special course to help train local hunters on recognizing
wolf kills was conducted in January 2008 for 20 members of the SNLJV. The aim was for
attendees to be able investigate wolf kills on their own according to a monitoring protocol and
forward the protocol with photographic documentation to the wolf monitoring staff for
evaluation and data archiving. Again, response to this initiative has been marginal. Only
about half a dozen probable wolf kills have been forwarded in the last four years, most of
them insufficiently documented. Numerous appeals to participate in wolf monitoring and to
attend training courses in wolf monitoring have gone unheard.
Today, discussion and involvement of stakeholders in Saxony is mainly restricted to the
forums and panels around the wolf management plan. Such management plan-bound
discussion groups also exist in Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower-
Saxony and Bavaria.
Cooperation of ministries / agencies / institutions / NGOs involved in wolf management
Several NGOs are engaged in wolf-related activities in Germany. Some of their main focuses
are given in the following, although most are also involved in other wolf-related issues. The
Gesellschaft zum Schutz der Wölfe e.V. (GzSdW, German society for the protection of the
wolf) set out from the start to facilitate funds for compensation and prevention as long as
state regulations were not yet in place. The International Funds for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
supports public relation work and monitoring in Saxony and Brandenburg. The
Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU, Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union) is
mainly engaged in public relation work and also supports monitoring in Brandenburg. The
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) supports monitoring and research in several Länder.
The Freundeskreis freilebender Wölfe (Friends of free living wolves) is mainly active in public
relation work and to some extent supports wolf monitoring. Some of the Länder have
cooperation agreements with individual or several NGOs.
Currently, Saxony has started a cooperation project on wolf telemetry in association with the
WWF, NABU, IFAW and GzSdW.
Within the framework of an Interreg IIIA project a permanent bilingual (German / Polish) wolf
exhibition was opened in Rietschen, Saxony in 2007. Project partners were the Saxonian
State Museum for Natural History in Görlitz (SMNG), the Polish museum Przyrodnicze and
the Kontaktbüro "Wolfsregion Lausitz. This project was supported financially by the NABU
and the Volkswagen AG. In addition, a trilingual (German, Polish, Czech) touring exhibition
An Interreg project planned and submitted by the WWF that will involve Brandenburg,
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Poland's westernmost voivodship as project partners
is still pending.
In Lower Saxony, the Ministry of the Environment has signed a cooperation agreement with
the regional hunting association (Landesjägerschaft Niedersachsen, LJN) and to a great
extent assigned responsibility for wolf monitoring to the LJN. This has brought about criticism
from other NGOs, who on the one hand feel left out and on the other are vehement that
responsibility for monitoring is a state task that cannot be assigned to an NGO.
National and transboundary working groups established for information exchange and
On the level of authorities, there is a wolf working group (Unterarbeitskreis Wolf) as part of
the Federal/ Länder working group for nature and landscape conservation and recreation
(Bund/Länder-Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Naturschutz, Landschaftspflege und Erholung, LANA).
This working group was set up in 2009 and meets on demand to discuss wolf specific issues.
In 2009, a first Polish-German meeting on wolves was arranged on both sides of the border.
Attendees included members of federal ministries and authorities, regional (Länder,
Voivodeships) ministries and authorities as well as wolf biologists from both countries. At this
meeting, it was agreed that Germany and Poland share a common wolf population, and the
decision was taken to establish a transboundary wolf working group. Since then, the
German-Polish wolf working group has met on average twice a year. These are informal
meetings that serve for the exchange of experience.
Within the framework of the Alpine Convention, the Large Carnivores, Wild Ungulates and
Society Platform (platform WISO) was set up by the Xth Alpine Conference in Evian in 2009.
The objectives of the Platform WISO are to find solutions to manage large carnivores and
wild ungulates harmoniously, and based on an integrated approach. The platform goes
beyond a strictly ecological approach and endeavours to take into account economic and
social aspects on an equal level
According to the mandate, the main activities of the platform are:
International cooperation for the purpose of: 1) exchange of knowledge and experience
(good-practice examples); 2) establishment of a forum for the discussion of issues
concerning the preservation, management, and use of large carnivores and wild ungulates;
3) ensuring exchange of information among relevant partners.
Cooperation in terms of content, with the aim of cross-border protection and management of
wildlife at the population level.
Wolf management plans and conservation measures of Poland and
In Poland, the only document on wolf conservation strategy commissioned by the Ministry of
the Environment was developed in 1998 and entitled the “National Wolf Conservation and
Management Strategy” (O
KARMA et al. 1998). Other projects on strategies or management
plans concerning this species developed in the past twenty years were largely initiatives
taken by different interests groups (scientists, foresters, hunters, etc.)
Administrative reform in Poland in 1999 reduced the number of provinces (voivodships) from
49 small to 16 larger ones. Prior to that, wolf protection/management plans had been
developed for the former Krosno province (Śmietana 1995), Nowy Sącz province (Bobek et
al. 1996) and Suwałki province (B
OBEK et al. 1998b). All the management plans proposed to
divide the given province into several zones with different protection regimes. Following
administrative reform, wolf protection plans were developed for the north-eastern region of
Poland, including Warmińsko-Mazurskie and Podlaskie provinces (J
SCHMIDT 2001), and also for the Podkarpackie province (PERZANOWSKI 2005). None of these
regional conservation plans have been officially accepted and introduced.
At national level, there were also efforts to create a strategy for the protection of wolves in
Poland. The first attempt was made by Prof. A. B
ERESZYŃSKI (1997) before implementation
of legal protection of the wolf in entire Poland. The project was presented in the Polish
After the species was put under strict protection in the whole country in 1998, the Polish
Ministry of the Environment commissioned a group of experts to develop a project entitled
“National Wolf Conservation and Management Strategy” (O
KARMA et al. 1998a). However,
only parts of this document, which concerned conditions and procedures for derogations on
wolf culls and the scheme used for damage compensation have been implemented and used
for further law development and enforcement.
In 2010, the Warsaw University of Life Sciences started a project entitled:
Strategies of Management of Several Threaten or Conflict Species.
The species list included:
the brown bear, the wolf, the lynx, the otter, the cormorant and the crane. The project is
financed by the Operational Program Infrastructure and Environment 2007-2013 (85%) and
the National Fund of Environmental Protection and Water Management (15%)
Although the project was not commissioned by the General
Directorate for Environmental Protection, it obtained a positive opinion from the Ministry of
Environment in order to apply for EU funds.
Leading experts responsible for conducting workshops and writing the strategy projects,
were chosen for each species. The leading expert chosen for the wolf was Prof. Henryk
Okarma, director of the Institute of Nature Conservation of the Polish Academy of Sciences
in Krakow (INC PAS). From October 2010 to December 2011 several workshops were
organized to discuss the details of the strategy proposed by the leading expert. The first
workshop was conducted in the Carpathian Mts. (October 2010) and focused mainly on the
Carpathian wolf population; the second held in Warsaw (February 2011) concerned wolves in
eastern Poland; the third held in Poznań (March 2011) focused mainly on wolves in western
Poland; the fourth was an international workshop in Krakow, to which wolf specialists from
Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia had been invited.The national workshops were
mainly attended by foresters, hunters, scientists, staff of national parks, officers from
provincial and governmental environmental agencies and representatives of several Few
representatives of livestock breeders took part. At the last workshop held in Warsaw
(December 2011), the final draft of the Strategy was presented. The group of authors
include: Prof. Henryk Okarma (INC PAS), Dr. Roman Gula (Museum and Institute of Zoology
PAS in Warsaw) and Dr. Piotr Brewczyński (Regional Directorate of State Forest Service in
Krosno). In the Strategy project they proposed to establish: (1) a system of wolf population
monitoring based on yearly hunter surveys in the whole of Poland and genetic monitoring to
be conducted every 5 years in the whole country; (2) the possibility for hunters to hunt
wolves by special permission in areas of high wolf density (including the large forests of
eastern Poland and the Carpthians, but also western Poland in the next few years); (3) a
Wolf Specialists Group responsible for analyzing data on wolf distribution provided by
hunters’ surveys, together with data on wolf damage to livestock and predation on wild
ungulates (“damage to wild ungulates”), as a basis for taking decisions regarding wolf
population management in different regions of Poland (e.g. culling wolves by hunters). The
group will also advise the Ministry of the Environment on issues relating to changes to the
law, methods of livestock protection, public education, etc. A large part of the Strategy
project focuses on the impact of wolf predation on domestic and wild ungulates and losses
caused by wolves to game animals management. Poaching (especially illegal shooting by
hunters) is presented as the only important threat to wolves, and the main reason for very
slow growth of the population in western Poland. Many other factors of wolf mortality and
important threats to population caused by urbanization and transportation network
development are either not mentioned at all or only described in brief. There are no
proposals or recommendations in place for implementation of wolf monitoring standards,
procedures and methods that fulfill the requirements of existing EU directives and national
legislation. The project received strong support from hunters, those foresters who are
hunters themselves, and from some scientists. However, it was hardly criticized at all by
other scientists, environmentalists, representatives of NGOs, staff of national parks, or
officials at local, regional and national level. Generally, antagonists of the project do not
agree with culling wolves in their suitable habitats because of predation on wild ungulates. In
their opinion only those derogations are acceptable that are granted for cases when wolves
cause regular damage to livestock or pose a threat to humans.
In April 2012, the Strategy project was presented by the project coordinator (the Warsaw
University of Life Sciences) to the General Director of Environmental Protection (GDEP) for
approval. Next months, the project will be proposed for public consultation and the opinion of
the National Council for Nature Conservation (NCNC) sought. After possible acceptance by
the GDEP, the document will be used by the officers of the Ministry of the Environment and
the General Directorate of the Environment as a tool and recommendation in decision-
Brandenburg was the first of the German Länder to develop a management plan for the wolf.
Already in 1994, more than ten years before the first wolf territory was confirmed in
Brandenburg, this plan was commissioned and worked out in an intense public involvement
ROMBERGER AND HOFER 1994), which at the time was a highy progressive
approach. However, the plan was never implemented. Currently, Brandenburg is revising this
plan completely. The new version is expected to be ready at the end of 2012.
In 2005, the BfN with funds from the BMU commissioned elaboration of the “Scientific
concept for wolf management in Germany” (R
EINHARDT AND KLUTH 2007). These guidelines
were intended to provide the scientific basis for development of wolf management plans in
Germany and have been widely used ever since.
Today, several Länder have developed regional wolf management plans, action plans or
guidelines of various complexities (table 6). For example, Bavaria approved a “Step 1” wolf
MP in 2007 (B
AYERISCHES STAATSMINISTERIUM FÜR UMWELT, GESUNDHEIT UND
VERBRAUCHERSCHUTZ 2007) dealing with single individuals that disperse through Bavaria. A
“Step 2” MP focusing of single resident wolves is has been under discussion since 2010.
These regional action plans or guidelines, although called management plans, mainly deal
with regional conflict mitigation and competences. The plans do not define any population
goals or management measures acting on a population level. A national management plan
that could do so is not under consideration.
Most of these regional plans have been developed with some public and / or stakeholder
participation. However, the extent of influence of those involved in the process is i generally
limited because the legal framework defines the boundaries. Furthermore, there is no
tradition and little experience in facilitating (to some extent) open processes of participation.
In general, no professional moderator is engaged other than a chairperson leading the
In the process of developing these action plans, some of the Länder implement working
groups or panels. For example, all the interest groups involved in management planning in
Saxony are members of the plenum “Management plan wolf”. This plenum meets once a
year to obtain information about and discuss latest developments in regard to the wolf. In the
Saxonian wolf MP the plenum is defined as having an advisory capacity.
Tab. 6: Regional action plans and guidelines on the wolf in Germany.
Year Land Title
Ein Managementplan für Wölfe in Brandenburg. 116 S.
A management plan for wolves in Brandenburg. 116 pp.
MP was not implemented.
Managementplan Wölfe in Bayern Stufe 1. 17 S.
Managementplan wolves in Bavaria. Step 1. 17 pp.
Deals with single non-
resident wolves only.
MP step 2 (single resident
wolves) in preparation.
Leitlinie Wolf. Grundsätze zum Umgang mit Wölfen.
Managementmaßnahmen für Sachsen-Anhalt. 19 S.
Wolf guideline. Principles for dealing with wolves.
Management measures in Saxony-Anhalt. 19 pp.
Managementplan für den Wolf in Sachsen. 46 S.
Managementplan for the wolf in Saxony. 46 pp.
Update planned in 2013.
Managementplan für den Wolf in Mecklenburg-
Vorpommern. 43 S.
Managementplan for the wolf in Mecklenburg-Western
Pomerania. 43 pp.
Die Rückkehr des Wolfes nach Baden-Württemberg.
Handlungsleitfaden für das Auftauchen einzelner Wölfe.
The return of the wolf to Baden-Württemberg. Action
plan for the appearance of single wolves. 35 pp.
Deals with single
Der Wolf in Niedersachsen. Grundsätze und
Maßnahmen im Umgang mit dem Wolf. 47 S.
The wolf in Lower Saxony. Principles and measures for
dealing with the wolf. 47 pp.
Positionspapier zur Wiederbesiedlung Schleswig-
Holsteins durch den Wolf. 13 S.
Position paper on the recolonisation of Schleswig-
Holstein by the wolf. 13 pp.
Managementplan für den Wolf in Brandenburg 2013 –
2017. 54 S.
Managementplan for the wolf in Brandenburg 2013 –
2017. 54 pp.
Managemetplan für den Wolf in Thüringen. 44 S.
Management plan for the wolf in Thuringia. 44 pp.
Managementplan Wölfe in Bayern Stufe 2.
Management plan wolves in Bavaria. Step 2.
deals with single resident
Synopsis and assessment of compatibilities and differences
Tab. 7: Synopsis and assessment of compatibilities and differences in wolf management between
Poland and Germany.
What Germany Poland
Some Länder plan to include the wolf as a
game species with year round protection
under their regional hunting laws.
In appendix II
In appendix II with reservation regarding
strict protection of the wolf.
In annex II and IV
In annex II and V
Derogations can be given in certain
situations according to the MPs of the
Länder by the regional Länder authorities.
Not applicable so far.
Derogations can be given in certain
situations by the General Director of
So far no derogations issued.
Since 2000, 25 have been issued permits to
kill 49 wolves, of which 10 have been shot.
Report on derogations according to article
16 of the Habitats Directive are sent to the
EC every second year.
§44 BNatschG defines bans on access,
possession and on marketing of the wolf as
a strictly protected species.
Other than capturing, killing or injuring
individuals of strictly protected species, §44
BNatschG also prohibits disturbing their
rearing places in such a way which may
lead to a degradation of the conservation
status of the „local population” (pack).
Regional authorities may interpret this in
such a way that temporary conservation
zones are established around wolf dens
and permission for photograph and filming
near dens or rendezvous size is denied.
According to §2 of the Regulation on the
Protection of Animal Species (RPAS) the
wolf is listed as a strictly protected species
that requires active protection. §6 RPAS
allows establishing a seasonal protection
zone with a radius of 500 m around wolf
pup-rearing places from 1st April to 31st
August. §7 RPAS stated that permission for
photography and filming which may cause
wolf disturbance is required. Furthermore,
there are a number of other prohibitions
regarding strictly protected species that are
consistent with §12 of the Habitats Directive.
Natura 2000 sites
for protection of
No Natura 2000 sites specifically designed
for wolf habitat protection. In 5 Natura 2000
sites the wolf was mentioned as a species
included in this site.
73 Natura 2000 sites protect wolf habitats
and in all of them wolf is mentioned as an
object of protection. These sites cover
National or regional
§21 BNatschG requires a net of
interconnected protected biotopes
encompassing about 10% of the Länder
surfaces. The habitat network should be
established across Länder boundaries.
Green bridges are still rare: only 36 green
bridges exist on about 53,500 km of
highway and Bundesstrassen (A-roads).
About the same number is planned or
The goal of the federal reintegration
program is that by 2020 transportation
infrastructure will no longer impair the
habitat connectivity system
Articles 3 and 117 of Nature Conservation
Law recommend protection of animal
migratory routes. §10 of RPAS includes
protection of ecological corridors and
building of wildlife passages among ways to
Wildlife passages are commonly used as
measure to mitigate habitat fragmentation
caused by constructionsof new roads.
There is a national project of ecological
corridors connecting Natura 2000 sites.
Decentralised, responsibilities rest with the
responsible for wolf
Nature conservation authorities of the
Länder. In some Länder regional ministries
of the environment are in charge, in other
Länder responsibility was further devolved
to the administrative districts.
Ministry of the Environment and General
Directorate of Environmental Protection
Regional management plans without
population targets implemented or will be
implemented soon in 10 of 16 Länder. No
national MP under consideration.
Rough strategy of wolf conservation. No
official management or action plan
FRP / FRR not defined for Germany.
Favourable reference values generally
refer to those defined by Linnell et al. 2008
National values defined for FRR, FRP, FRA
Monitoring system and structure varies
from Land to Land. Decentralized data
analysis. Yearly national data evaluation
and merging of data for population size and
area of occurrence by the monitoring
working group from all the Länder.
No official governmental monitoring system.
Monitoring conducted within a framework of
scientific projects for entire country or certain
regions. Different monitoring schemes
applied in various projects. National data
evaluation and merging currently not
Monitoring standards are well-defined.
Methods to be used are proposed and
described in the monitoring standards
(Kaczensky et al. 2009, revised in 2013).
Indicators of population status and habitat
quality are defined according to
specifications of the LANA (
Landschaftspflege und Erholung“ der
Methods used in Poland and Germany
differ from each other as well as data
Monitoring standards are not defined.
Wolf monitoring methods and indicators of
population status and habitat quality
described in methodological handbook of
monitoring of HD species (Jędrzejewski et
Data are collected by the Länder. Merging
of data done voluntarily by LUPUS Wildlife
IZW offers pathological analysis of wolf
carcasses for all the Länder.
No common system.
Information collected by various institutions.
No complete picture of cases of mortality in
Compensation systems vary between the
Länder. Compensation mostly paid by
regional governments; sometimes by NGO
and state-based funds.
In some Länder, compensation linked to
National compensation law. Compensation
paid by the State.
Varies from Land to Land.
Regional directorates for environmental
protection and directors of national parks.
Varies from Land to Land.
Mitigation measures may be funded from 0
to 100% according to regional regulations.
No national system.
Prevention methods promoted within the
frame of temporal projects conducted by
Fig. 13: Raw distribution of the Central Europen wolf population in March 2012. Note that currently it is
not possible to detect transboundary territories so double counting on both sides of the border
is likely to occure. Data from both countries are not comparable yet because of lacking
monitoring standards. In Germany packs and pairs (dark red) are distinguished while in
Poland such differentiation is not made. Data from Poland: AfN “Wolf”, data from Germany:
LUPUS Wildlife Consultants.
Recommendations for future transboundary collaboration
In this chapter, we will put forward suggestions on how transboundary collaboration on wolf
conservation may be expanded in the future, and also examine the feasibility and benefits of
a joint management plan.
Wolf management varies widely between Poland and Germany as it does within Germany.
However, the legal framework in both countries is the same; the wolf is a strictly protected
species making common management feasible. Although in Poland the wolf is included in
Annex V of the habitat directive, the species is still strictly protected by national law and is
not listed as a game species. In Germany, ambition to list the wolf as a game species in
several Länder will not alter its status. A system of strict protection must be maintained for
the wolf, including effective, coordinated and preventive protection measures.
Since common management of the joint wolf population is not only feasible but above all
reasonable, we recommend continuing and extending transboundary collaboration on the
conservation of the Central European wolf population initiated in 2009 as a platform of
information exchange. In order to make this platform even more effective, as a very first step,
we suggest a restructuring of the German - Polish wolf working group.
Poland and Germany are both responsible for the conservation status of the Central
European wolf population that they share. Accordingly, we recommend managing the wolves
of this population regardless of administrative boundaries. Ideally, this should result in a
population level management plan jointly developed by Poland and Germany. Such a plan
should define the population goals and the measures appropriate to achieve it, but also
whether and under which conditions management measures like lethal control are accepted
by both parties. It is not necessary and probably not even feasible for Poland and Germany
to take identical management measures; however, they should be coordinated and
compatible with each other. In such a management plan, both countries should reach
agreement on the population goals, measurable objectives and actions to be taken. The
management plan will form the framework within which both countries agree to act. We are
well aware that this is no easy feat due to the very diverse administrative demands in both
While the product is clearly outlined in the guidelines for population level management plans
for large carnivores in Europe (L
INNELL et al. 2008, appendix 1) the process leading to the
product is the really challenging part. L
INNELL et al. (2008) suggest division into two parallel
processes, an external international one and parallel internal national processes. Since
neither Germany nor Poland have a national management plan in place, so far, neither of the
countries has gone through the national process. Indeed, several of the German Länder
have developed regional wolf management plans, but these regional plans do not contain
any population goals since this is a national or even a supra-national task.
A good process can help people to accept a controversial product. On the other hand, even
the best product might not be accepted if the process is flawed. Providing scope for public
and stakeholder involvement is therefore crucial. However, since the framework is set by
international treaties and national or regional laws, discussion is not about whether wolves
should be conserved, but about how, and what is the best way to achieve that goal. L
et al. (2008) underline that a management plan is a technical instrument for management,
not a policy document, because policy already exists.
Any discussion forum involving the public, stakeholders or different management agencies
(e.g. authorities from the German Länder) must be facilitated by a skilled and neutral
facilitator. In cases of disagreement about basic facts or their interpretation, it may be helpful
to convene a small group of international experts to evaluate the data (L
INNELL et al. 2008).
The international process should seek to harmonise existing national results and then return
to their respective stakeholders / agencies involved for consultation. L
INNELL et al. (2008)
suggest that one country should take the lead in the international process.
Development of a population level management plan for the Central European
The recommendations above are based on the guidelines; however, so far, no
population level management plans have been developed in Europe, and therefore
there is no experience from which to draw.
It is difficult to estimate the man-power and finances required for such an
undertaking. A realistic time frame for developing such a plan would be two to three
years. Besides professional facilitators, scientists working out the technical details
would have to be engaged.
For the technical part – considering that details such as common monitoring
standards and favourable reference values have already been worked out (see
below) – about 6 personal months should be calculated.
The costs for facilitators depend on the number of workshops needed, which may
vary between 5 – 30 within each country (experience from wolf management planning
in Croatia and Bulgaria). It is highly recommended to engage professional facilitators
who are able give all stakeholders the feeling they really are part of the process, and
who are in the position to find common ground among the various interest groups.
It is up to the Polish and German authorities to decide whether they wish to confront the
challenge of developing a population level management plan. Nevertheless, some of the
tasks that would also be part of a population level management plan will have to be tackled
soon, anyhow. The precondition for cross-border management – formalised or not – is a
common population assessment. Not only is this needed to obtain reliable information on the
status quo of the population but also to validate the effect of management measures. This is
why we strongly focus our recommendations for the next steps of transboundary
collaboration on the comparability of monitoring data. First and foremost, we suggest
developing common monitoring standards and a regular common assessment of population
size and trend. Prerequisites for this are the presence of robust monitoring structures and
national (population)-wide data compilation. There are many more challenges that must be
addressed in a population management plan, like minimising wolf-livestock conflicts or
reducing anthropogenic mortality in wolves. However, for every discussion we lead or
decision we take in the mean time, we need a robust data base.
In the following, we have summarized our recommendations for future transboundary
collaboration together with a raw assessment of the financial and manpower requirements:
New structuring of the German-Polish wolf working group; including Czech
representatives in the group
Similar to the Alpine wolf group, we propose a two-level board for wolf management
and monitoring consisting of an administrative and a technical advisory board. On the
administrative level, governmental authorities from Poland and Germany will define
data or information requirements and give these as working objectives to the
technical board, which will consist of wolf experts from both countries. The technical
advisory board can also recommend issues to the administrative board that should be
addressed. Finally, we suggest offering the Czech Republic to join the working group
since wolves’ spreading to neighbouring countries from the Central European
population is but a matter of time.
Personnel costs will be incurred depending on the way in which wolf experts are
involved. This could be general consultancy contracts that include the work
necessary for the German-Polish wolf working group (and could also contain the
expenses necessary for the yearly common population assessment). Or contracts
might be closed as required, based on the data / information needed.
Development of common monitoring standards
When considering transboundary management of the population as a whole, or even
continuing the exchange of information as has been done in the past two years, we
need to know what we are talking about. How many wolves or wolf packs in which
areas do we have on both sides of the border and altogether? To answer these
simple questions, monitoring data from both countries should be comparable. This is
necessary to permit population level evaluation of population size, area of occurrence
and its trends. While Germany has monitoring standards for large carnivores, Poland
has not defined such standards yet; rather it has concentrated on developing wolf
monitoring methods and indicators of population status and habitat quality, which
have been described in the methodological handbook of monitoring of the Habitats
Directive species. We strongly recommend developing common monitoring standards
for the Central European population that should ideally also be comparable with those
in other European countries. These standards should define data analysis and
interpretation, including units of data collection (e.g. individuals or packs / pairs for
population size, grid size for area of occurrence), monitoring methods should be
A working group of wolf monitoring experts from both countries could work out the
details on the basis of the already existing monitoring standards for LCs in Germany
within a few months. Manpower requirement: about 3 man-months. Costs for a
workshop with 2 – 3 external wolf experts should be included.
Improving monitoring structures in Germany and Poland
Persons engaged in wolf monitoring must have the manpower and financial
resources to allow them to carry out their job properly. They must be embedded in
monitoring structures able to keep track with a rapidly growing wolf population. This is
the responsibility of the state, and in the long term cannot be devolved to NGOs
Additional man power and cost depend on the already existing structures and the
occurrence of wolves.
Announce an institution where data are compiled (across intranational
boundaries) in a consistent way and which can provide up to date information
on national (population based) population size on demand
While yearly evaluation of population size is adequate for international cooperation,
on a national basis a more contemporary picture of the situation is needed.
Besides the working group that meets once a year, there is no continuous
intranational transboundary cooperation in Germany or official institution where the
data from the different Länder are compiled to give a complete picture. Figures on
wolf packs and litters are often given on a Länder basis. Since many territories are
located along Länder boundaries, double counting of packs and litters often happens.
The same is likely to happen in Poland if provinces become more involved in
monitoring, and province-based wolf projects are conducted. Therefore, we suggest
that both countries create structures that enable authorities to obtain a prompt picture
of the current situation regarding their wolf population portions across intranational
boundaries. In Poland such (an) institution(s) is (are) required for all three wolf
populations occurring in the country.
It would be desirable that the institution responsible for compiling the population data
also compile the data on wolves found dead in the country / population to ensure an
overall overview on the situation. If not already done it is recommended to also
compile data once a year on livestock damages and compensation on a nationwide
The required man power / cost depend on the number and kind of data that are
forwarded and the frequency of information requested. For Germany, 25 man-days /
year should initially be planned and the amount later adjusted if necessary. In Poland
at least 60 man-days / year are required.
Yearly common assessment of population size and area of occurrence for the
Having common monitoring standards we recommend a yearly common assessment
of population size and area of occurrence for the CE population. A bilateral working
group should review the national reports especially with regard to transboundary
packs. The output should be a final yearly population report outlining the situation of
the whole CE wolf population.
This could be done in 2 working days by 2 wolf experts from each country (preferably
responsible for the data compilation as suggested above), including preparation of
GIS maps: 8 man-days / year.
Develop favourable reference values for the entire CE wolf population
Poland is currently defining favourable reference values for two bioregions
(continental and alpine). Germany has not defined minimum population goals yet.
Subject to the condition that transboundary collaboration on wolf management
between Poland and Germany is continued, we would suggest developing threshold
values for FRP and FRR on a population basis as recommended in the guidelines
INNELL et al. 2008) and thus for the Central European population as a whole.
Assessment of the favourable reference ranges for wolves in Poland is currently
based on earlier publications of habitat suitability models (J
ĘDRZEJEWSKI et al. 2008,
UCK et al. 2010). However, since wolves have only recently re-immigrated into
Germany and western Poland, the data to conduct a robust FRR analysis for the
Central European population are still incomplete. More data on habitat use and the
territory size of wolves in different regions would be needed to obtain a more detailed
picture of wolf habitat utilization in Germany and Western Poland (see below).
Developing favourable reference values would require about 1 – 2 man months when
all the data for such an analysis are available. Travel costs, also for wolf experts from
other countries, should be included.
Research on habitat utilization and territory size in Germany and Western
updating the habitat models for wolves as a basis for robust FRR
The data with which to conduct a robust FRR analysis for Germany and western
Poland are still incomplete. In order to obtain the missing data, it is necessary to
conduct a telemetry study on habitat use and territory size of wolves in different
This would require at least a 3 (better 5) year project with telemetry of about 15 – 20
wolves in different areas.
Material costs (per country): EUR 60,000 – 80,000
Personnel costs (per country): about 80 – 100 man days for capture / year
about 25 man days / for permanent data analysis
about 150 man days for final data analysis and
development of the FRR
Joint genetic monitoring
In order to obtain a complete picture of the genetic structure (relatedness,
heterozygosis), the extent of isolation for the Central European population as a whole
(magnitude and frequency of immigration from the Baltic and Carpathian population),
and to enable identification of cross-boundary packs, joint genetic monitoring would
be desirable. To do this, it would be necessary that funds be provided on both sides
of the border and over the whole area of wolf occurrence. Genetic analyses of all
samples should be done in the same laboratory. This type of genetic monitoring is
also conducted in other European wolf populations that have only recently been
established, including the Scandinavian and the Alpine population.
However, genetic analyses are expensive. Therefore, it is necessary to consider in
advance which questions should be answered with this method and on what scale.
This may vary between countries and / or population segments, and needs may also
change with time. For example, currently, in Germany, the focus of genetic analyses
lies on relatedness, inbreeding and dispersing. For this, it is necessary to have an
overview (a pedigree) of the breeding animals in the whole country. In Poland, the
large scale focus lies on phylogeography, genetic structure of Polish and Eastern
European wolf populations and connection to adjacent populations, while small scale
projects center on relatedness within packs, dispersal, and an effect of infrastructural
barriers on gene flow.
While large scale studies on genetic diversity or the amount of connectivity with other
populations can be executed and repeated every 5 – 6 years, studies on the
relatedness among a population and the spread of a population (portion) must be
conducted consistently. If genetic results are to be used for population size
estimation, much more intense genetic sampling would be necessary in order to
conduct robust capture-recapture analysis.
We therefore suggest that the authorities of both countries first define which data they
need / would like to have, so that biologists can then estimate the effort and the
financial support necessary to answer the questions. However, we strongly
recommend conducting joint genetic monitoring in the border area in order to be able
to identify cross border territories. This should include all the territories on the Oder
Genetic sampling can be conducted within the existing monitoring programme. The
amount of sample load will depend on the questions asked.
Solberg et al. (
recommended that studies using non-invasive genetic methods based on faecal
samples should aim at collecting 2.5 – 3 times the number of faecal samples as the
“assumed” number of animals (considering that in their lab analysis approximately 20
– 30% of the samples could not be genotyped). This means that
to conduct capture-
recapture analysis 15 to 30 samples per wolf pack and year should be analysed
(assuming pack size of 5 – 10 animals and a success rate of genetic analysis of
about 70 %). Currently, at the Senckenberg Institute, genetic analysis costs about
160 € / sample (including genotyping and haplotyping).
For capture-recapture analysis, about EUR 2,400 – 4,800 per year and pack must be
calculated. For a population (portion) of 20 packs this would equate to EUR 48,000 –
96,000 / year (15 - 30 samples x 20 packs x EUR 160) depending on the pack sizes.
For analysis of relatedness, fewer samples per pack would do; however, it is
necessary to sample breeding individuals every year.
In order to identify cross border territories, about 5 - 10 samples per year should be
collected and analysed on each side of the border; EUR 800 – 1,600 per territory and
Establishing and protection of the joint ecological network
Wolf range expansion and long-term population survival can only be guaranteed in
Central Europe if ecological connectivity is saved or re-established. To sustain wolf
occurrence and its genetic diversity in Germany and Western Poland, it is necessary
to define and protect ecological corridors in both countries. These ensure exchange
of individuals between population parts and between adjacent populations. In Poland,
a project on ecological corridors is being conducted that could be merged with
corresponding German activities. It requires among other things, collaboration of
scientific institutions involved in defining corridor networks in both countries and joint
GIS analysis. In order to protect ecological connectivity on a European level, it would
be important to define certain corridors as being of European importance, and then to
build sufficient wildlife passages over roads and railways disrupting these corridors.
This report was financed with funds from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment,
Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). Many thanks to Rasso Leinfelder from the
BMU to help set up and organise this project.
We would like to express our special thanks to Harald Martens from the Federal Agency for
Nature Conservation for the project management, helpful cooperation and for drafting the
concept of this report.
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