Mendel University Researchers Are Investigating The Balance Between Wolves and People

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Wolves are now living all over Europe, including some densely populated areas such as Italy and Germany. Photo credit: Freepik.

Brno, Mar 15 (BD) – A new international project launched by Brno’s Mendel University aims to better understand the interactions between humans and wolves in the cultural European landscape and prevent potential critical situations. The “Life Wild Wolf” project involves a team of 18 partners, consisting of universities, state institutions and environmental or hunting NGOs.

The project is aimed at developing procedures and recommendations to manage negative interactions between wolves and humans. In some countries, including the Czech Republic, intervention teams will be established to deal with potentially risky situations, share experiences and develop appropriate procedures.

The project also includes research focused on the potentially dangerous behaviour of wolves and how such behaviour can be defined.

According to Miroslav Kutal from the Institute of Forest Ecology at Mendel University, wolves are now living all over Europe, including some densely populated areas such as Italy and Germany. 

“Meetings between humans and wolves are becoming more common, also in the Czech Republic,” said Kutal. “For the inhabitants of some regions, encounters with wolves are something completely new, so understandably they are afraid. Other wild animals however, inhabited our cultural landscape a long time ago. Together with foreign collaborators, we will try to describe encounters with wolves and evaluate how risky they are.” 

Kutal’s team includes experienced veterinarians, and will also coordinate their procedures with the state Nature Protection Agency.

The presence of wildlife in the immediate vicinity of human settlements is an increasingly common phenomenon in many EU countries, which often leads to situations of perceived or actual danger. Few EU countries have clear and tested procedures to deal with such situations. The “Life Wild Wolf” project focuses on exactly these procedures, by evaluating as many cases as possible. Although the project is focused on the wolf population, which is growing across Europe, many of the practices could also be applied to other wildlife species.

The team from Mendel University has many years of experience monitoring, managing, and protecting wolves in the Czech Republic. Kutal said that despite the growing numbers of wolves, direct encounters between wolves and humans remain relatively rare, though describing and evaluating these cases is very important. “It is not desirable for wolves to lose their functional ecological roles by becoming too trusting of the human environment,” added Kutal. “And this is exactly what our project should prevent.”

The five-year project, which is coordinated by the Italian Institute of Applied Ecology in Rome, will be implemented in eight EU countries (Czech Republic, Croatia, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Greece, Slovenia and Sweden) which include seven of the nine known European wolf populations. The public can help the project by reporting their own wolf sightings to the address stopy@selmy.cz.

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