Vita the Wolf and Poaching

Vita was captured on 22 May in Notranjska region in Slovenia and fitted with a telemetry collar. At the time of capture, she was two years old and weighed 32 kg. We noticed she was lactating, but she had no offspring. She was therefore not the lead female wolf (alpha), but, as an older sister, she helped to look after this year’s pups and, if the lead female wolf died, she could take care of them. She was given a name that marked our desire to be able to collect data for a longer period of time than her predecessor, Jože, who wore the collar for only 44 days, in order to research the connectivity of the area. Unfortunately, on 23 September, like her predecessor, she was illegally shot. She wore her collar for 125 days.

Every wolf capture is the result of months of preparations and field work, so the news of her death was devastating for us. Otherwise, the death of one wolf is not a tragedy for the wolf population, but for us it is a lost opportunity to gather data and obtain knowledge that can be used to better manage the wolf population. In addition to the efforts of researchers who spend several months out in the open in order to capture one wolf, the issue is also money that is invested into the required equipment and other material costs.

Did you know?

When Vita was shot, her collar started sending a “mortality” signal. This signal is triggered when the animal does not move for 5 hours. Our colleague went out in the field to find her, and he also informed the police about the incident. After he found the wolf, he did not touch anything until the police came, because it was a scene of a potential criminal offence. The same rules apply to anyone who finds a carcass of a protected animal species in the wild. It is also vital that the police officers who arrive at the scene have a clear understanding of the protocol and relevant procedures. The protocol was prepared within the LIFE Lynx project by the Hunting Association of Slovenia in cooperation with the General Police Directorate and the Slovenia Forest Service. You can find a quick guide for proper course of action here or see the brochure here. Only through proper procedures can we ensure that the chances of finding the perpetrator are as high as possible.