The large carnivore community includes the wolf (Canis lupus), the lynx (Lynx lynx) and the brown bear (Ursus arctos) in Poland. All these species are protected in the whole country, the brown bear since 1952, the lynx since 1995, and the wolf since 1998. The details on their distribution and ecology you can find on further pages.
Our Association conduct activities for large carnivores and their habitats conservation. We have been involved in the campaign for the wolf and lynx protection, which resulted their current conservation status in Poland. Then, we have initiated the damage compensation system for livestock ovners and adequate regulations.
We work to enlarge the network of people involved in activities for large carnivores conservation in Poland and abroad. Our practice includes research, conservation, education, and conflict resolution efforts, beginning with long-term studies to understand and monitor the factors affecting survival of these species. Results of these studies are used to develop conservation policies and programmes, to to sustain their populations, but also to raise awareness, communicate, train, and educate individuals about carnivore populations. We focuse particularly on wolves and lynxes, which long-term conservation require multilevel activities. Our projects have the national and the regional range.
Wolf and lynx census in Poland
The census, which is conducted since 2000, is co-ordinated by the Mammal Research Institute of Polish Academy of Sciences (MRI PAS), our Association and the Institute of Nature Conservation PAS. The field data (results of snow tracking, information on tracks, scats, sightings, pups presence, den locality, etc.) is collected by foresters and staff of national parks, and regularly provided on special forms and maps to MRI office. All thee data is computed there. AfN WOLF co-ordinates gathering of data on wolf and lynx occurence from western Poland and western Carpathian Mts. At the end of every year, we analyse the data together and develop reports and maps on wolf and lynx distribution, based on ecological knowledge, gained from studies on large carnivores in Poland. Maps and reports are presented on the web site of MRI PAS.
Monitoring of the wolf population in western and central Poland
The monitoring has been started in 2001. For several years, with the help of dozens voluntiers from Poland, Germany and UK, we have conducted surveys, in order to confirm or discover the wolf presence in the following forests: Wkrzańska Forest, Piaskowa Forest (Cedyński Landscape Park), Drawska Forest, Drawski Military Training Area, Krajeńskie Forest, Wałeckie Forest, Bydgoska Forest, Notecka Forest, Sarbia Forest, Lubuska Forest, Rzepińska Forest, Zielonogórskie Forest, Tarnowska Forest, Bory Dolnośląskie Forest and Rudzkie Forest. During every such a survey, we visit the local forest divisions to interview foresters and hunters for wolf presence evidence, wolf sightings and prey remains. During the field work we record coordinates of all wolf signs (tracks, scats, scent marking, scratching, sightings, dens, etc.) and compute it with GIS software. We also collect scats and prey remains for diet analyses. We gather samples from fresh scats, for genetic studies on wolves in Poland, and for parasite analyses. When we discover the wolf presence in the forest, we establish the co-operation and information exchange with local foresters, providing them with training, knowledge on the role of wolves in the forest ecosystem and educational materials. During the project we have recorded the successful wolf recovery in the Bydgoska Forest, Wałeckie Forest, Rzepińska Forest, and recently in Bory Dolnośląskie Forest. We co-operate with German wolf specialists and exchange the information on wolf presence and genetics in the trans-border region. Results of the monitoring reveal the directions and tempo of re-colonisation of west Poland by wolves and are used to create of maps of the current distribution of wolves in Poland in the Wolf and lynx inventory project.
Ecological corridors and wildlife passages on motorways and express roads in Poland
One of the most important activity for the large carnivores conservation is saving the integrity of their habitats through conservation of their migration corridors. In 2006 roku, together with the Mammal Research Institute PAS, we develop for the Minister of Environment the project „Ecological corridors linking ecological network of Natura 2000 sites”. Based on that project we prepare opinions and recommendations for location and parameters of wildlife passages on new motorways and express roads in the entire Poland. More you can read in Ecological corridors. In 2007, for the Ministry of Infrastructure we developed a project of “Monitoring of usage of the wildlife passage on transportation infrastructure in Poland”.
Ecology and problems of conservation of wolves in the western-most part of Polish Carpathian Mountains
During this project, conducted since 1997, we collect data on seven wolf familly groups inhabiting the Silesian Beskid Mts., Maly Beskid Mts., and Żywiecki Beskid Mts. Annually we conduct snow tracking in order to estimate the size of each family group, mortallity caused by culls in Slovakia, poaching and other human-related factors. In summer, using howling stimulation and scats concentration, we attempt to discover pup presence and number and to localize breeding sites. All these information give us knowledge on the wolf population dynamic under presure of environmental changes and increasing human activity within the region. Furthermore we regularly collect scats and prey remains for diet analyses and to record changes resulted from different human-related factors. We also gather genetic samples to study the relatedness between our packs and other wolves in the Carpatian Mts., and to check the distance and directions of wolf migration. All collected data is analysed with GIS software. Results of the project help us in our conservation activities, to define regional and local migration corridors, recommendations for the forest management, spatial plans and the transportation network development. More details on results are available in Wolves in the Western Beskidy Mountains. Two our packs Grapa and Halny are proposed for the adoption project led in co-operation with the Wolves and Humans Fundation (UK).
Resolving of man/wolf conflicts
Damage to livestock caused by large predators are very troublesome for local farmers. Thus, the conservation of large carnivores should include activities focused on decreasing the damage scale, mostly for the wolf, to which farmers present the very low acceptance. From the begining of our Association, we conduct wide eduction of Polish farmers and introduce efficient methods of livestock protection into farms the most afflicted by wolf attaks. Read more here.
Ecology and conservation problems of lynx in the western-most part of Polish Carpathian Mountains
Last several years we have conducted snow-tracking in the Żywiecki Beskid Mts., to estimate number of lynx females leading kittens and territorial males within the study area. Based on long distance tracking and scent-marking we also attempt to distinguish home ranges of idividuals, and habitat preferences. Furthermore, we look for faeces and prey remains for diet analyses, and collect genetic samples from scats to search for relatedness with other lynx in the Carpatian Mts., and to check the distance and directions of lynx migration.
In spring 2008, together with the Wildlife Rescue Center in Mikołów, and the Babia Góra National Park, we succesfully brought back to the wild two young lynx females, which were foud last year in very bad condition in the Żywiecki Beskid Mts. Both females had been radiocollared and after the several weeks of adaptation in a forest enclosure in the Babia Góra NP, were released to the forest. Last several months they have been monitored by field workers of the Babia Góra NP and our Association. Read more about Polish lynxes here.