Scientists in Šumava monitor wild wolf using telemetric collar

Photo: ČT24

Scientists in the Šumava national park have started monitoring a wild wolf using a special telemetric collar. The project, the first of its kind in the Czech Republic, is being conducted in cooperation with experts from the Czech University of Life Sciences in order to better understand the wolves’ movement patterns and behaviour.

Wolves were once common throughout most of Bohemia and Moravia but by the late 19th century, they were completely eradicated. The last wolf is believed to have been shot in the Šumava Mountains in 1874.

In recent years, the large canine predators have started resettling and reproducing on Czech territory. Most of them come from Slovakia and the German-Polish border region and currently live in several parts of the Czech Republic.

Aleš Vorel from the Czech University of life Sciences in Prague, heads the monitoring project:

“The reoccurrence of wolves in the Šumava mountains started in 2017, so the population is really recent. What is interesting is that the parents of the first wolf pack in the Šumava mountains come from different parts of Europe. The male is from the Italian wolf population while the female is from the German-Polish border zone.”

Photo: Jan Mokrý/ČZU/NP Šumava

Scientists estimate that there are currently three packs of wolves on the territory of the Šumava mountains, with some 20 animals in total.

According to Mr. Vorel, trapping the wolf was the most difficult part of the monitoring project. Wolves are intelligent animals and after discovering a hidden trap, they systematically avoid it.

Aleš Vorel | Photo: ČT

After tracking down the animals and installing the traps in some of their favourite locations, scientists had to wait for several months before finally capturing a three-year-old female wolf:

“The wolves are very sensitive and they are afraid of the human smell, so it is really complicated to trap them. After the wolf was captured, we had to narcotise her immediately and attach the collar to her body. After an hour or so, she was free to return to nature.”

The telemetric collar, which was placed on the animal’s neck, uses a GPS, which reads its location from satellites every three hours. The latest data from the collar show that the trapped wolf has already re-joined her pack.

Photo: Jan Mokrý/ČZU/NP Šumava

Aleš Vorel says the information retrieved from the telemetric collar could help not only scientists, but also local people, for instance when taking measures to protect their livestock against the predators.

“We want to know how the wolves behave in our landscape, how large their territory is, and how often they visit certain places within their territory.

“But we also want to answer some practical questions: For example we could get more information about how often they visit farms with livestock and how often they use human paths and dwellings.”

Incidentally, there is currently another wolf with a telemetric collar living in the Czech Republic. A female wolf from neighbouring Austria recently settled in Doupovské hory, in the Karlovy Vary region, establishing her own pack.