Wolves in Poland

The wolf has been protected throughout Poland since 1998. Now, according to official data, there are about 1,200 wolves in whole Poland.

Before 2001, data on wolf occurrence and numbers in the country were provided by hunting inventories, which frequently overestimated numbers by as much as 100%. Since 2001, a regular large-scale census of wolf and lynx populations, co-ordinated the Mammal Research Institute PAS in Białowieża and the Association for Nature "Wolf", has been conducted for the whole of Poland, in close co-operation with foresters from all forest divisions. Between 2001 and 2005, the increase in both the number and range of the wolf population was recorded only in areas east of the Vistula river and in the Carpathians. Thus wolves’ distribution was mostly limited to the northeastern, eastern, and southern parts of the country. In central and western Poland only few individuals were recorded. However since 2005 wolves have begun to resettle Western Poland. Currently these big predators gradually re-colonise forests where they were extirpated by people dozens years ago.

The Polish wolf population makes up the western-most range of a large, continuous Eastern European wolf population, which has retained a high level of genetic diversity. In other areas of occurrence of this species in Europe, e.g. Italy, France, Spain or Sweden, populations are more isolated, limited in number and genetic diversity, and very sensitive to environmental changes. Poland, due to its location in the central part of Europe, is one of the most important refuges of this carnivore, and is an important source of dispersing individuals to regions where it was eradicated many years ago. Analyses of changes in wolf range in the twentieth century, genetic studies on wolves in Poland, radiotelemetry and GIS analyses show that wolf migration and dispersal in Poland occurs along latitudinal migration corridors. These findings resulted in a project of protection of migration corridors for big terrestrial mammals in Poland.

Studies conducted in Poland reported that wolves require large areas to function. In the Bialowieża Forest wolf pack territories can cover 200-300 km2, and in the Carpathians 100-150 km2. Analyses have shown that it is not possible to preserve a viable population of these predators entirely within protected sites, as the areas are too small. Therefore long-term conservation of this species needs to focus on managed forests, which make up 28% of the area of Poland. The majority of wolf territories include forests, where the impact of intensive logging, tourism, and recreation is visible. Recently wolf habitats and migration corridors have been seriously threatened with disruption by rapid development of transportation infrastracture to ensure the effective connection of Poland with other EU countries through the Trans-European Transportation Network (TEN-T).

Wolf range in Poland, 2015



Wolf den (S. Nowak)

Wolf den (S. Nowak)

Wolf pup (S. Nowak & R. Mysłajek)

Wolf pup (S. Nowak & R. Mysłajek)

Wolf pack from the Silesian Beskid Mts. (I. Tesch)

Wolf pack from the Silesian Beskid Mts. (I. Tesch)

Wolf's ground scratching (R. Mysłajek)

Wolf's ground scratching (R. Mysłajek)

Wolf track (S. Nowak)

Wolf track (S. Nowak)

Remains of a wolf prey (S. Nowak)

Remains of a wolf prey (S. Nowak)

Wolf scat (S. Nowak)

Wolf scat (S. Nowak)

Scent-marking (S. Nowak)

Scent-marking (S. Nowak)




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