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Wolf research, conservation and conflict resolution in Poland

Wolves and Humans has worked with Polish NGO Association for Nature “WOLF” since 1998, supporting their study of wolf ecology in the Beskidy Mountains of southern Poland, part of the Carpathian Mountain range, and now in the Lower Silesian Forest, in western Poland. This research is being used to monitor wolf numbers in Poland, identify conservation needs and implement measures to protect wolves and other wildlife, and to devise a national wolf management plan.

There are between 600-1,000 wolves in Poland, mainly in the eastern and southern parts of the country, with a small but growing population in the west. The main threats to wolves in Poland include; conflict with livestock raising, shrinking numbers of prey species including red and roe deer and wild boar, due to over-hunting by humans, and disturbance by forestry activities, recreation and development. The wolf has been protected in Poland since 1998, but many packs live on the borders with Belarus, Ukraine and Slovakia, where hunting is still permitted.

Sabina radio tracking - Photo Association for Nature  "WOLF"
Poland’s wolves are at the western-most edge of a large, continuous eastern European wolf population, which has retained its high genetic diversity, and are therefore an important source of dispersing individuals to other central and western European countries.

As well as research, the Association also provides education and training to farmers in methods of preventing livestock losses to wolves, including fladry, electric fencing and the native Tatra Mountain Shepherd livestock guarding dog. Equipment and dogs are provided and full training is given to owners and shepherds in effective use. Monitoring is also carried out to study the effectiveness of these methods in different situations. Several publications about protection of livestock have been produced.

Educational activities include:

  • Lectures, talks, posters and brochures for schoolchildren, students and local communities on the role of predators in forest ecosystems

  • Wolf workshops and seminars for foresters, hunters, livestock owners, nature protection officials from Poland, the Ukraine, Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, as well as for students and naturalists from all over the world

  • Specialist workshops for staff of Nature Protection Departments, foresters, hunters and veterinarians from areas with wolves, including identification methods and determining causes of damages to livestock

With development increasing after Poland’s accession to the European Union in 2004, Association for Nature "WOLF" have been assessing the impact of different human activities (forestry, tourism, recreation, urban development, construction of transport infrastructure) on local wolf populations living in a changed, fragmented habitat, with a high human density, and making recommendations to the Polish government to minimise the impact on wolves and maintain ecological corridors to allow dispersal across Poland; for example, wildlife overpasses and underpasses have been included in recent road developments.

This work will help to find solutions for the long-term coexistence of wolves and people in Poland, and also provide a sound scientific background for assessing and preventing potential conflicts in areas of high human population density which are being re-colonised by wolves in other parts of Poland, as well as in other countries in Europe.

Wolf Tracks in the Lower Silesian Forest

How you can help
•   Adopt a Wild Wolf Pack in the Beskidy Mountains or the Lower Silesian Forest.
•   Take part in one of Association for Nature “WOLF’s" large carnivore seminars, click here for details

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