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Wolf Tracking in Värmland
Kenneth Jonsson, The Big Four in Scandanavia
Wolf tracking operations have been underway in Värmland since 1982, when the Swedish National Environmental Protection Agency's trackers followed up reports of wolf sightings from the northern part of the county.
At the end of the 1980's the Swedish National Environmental Protection Agency delegated responsibility for wolf tracking to the Värmland County Administrative Board. The County Administrative Board reports the results of the tracking operations to the National Environmental Protection Agency at the end of every season. The information in the report includes the number of wolves tracked, the number of wolf territories and their geographical location.
In order to gain an impression about the spreading of wolves and their activities in Värmland and the surrounding areas, it is necessary to regularly spend time in the areas where the wolves are to be found. Tracking operations begin in earnest when the ground is completely covered in snow. Previously recorded wolf territories are visited and a thorough counting of individual paw-prints and following of tracks begins. After a period of tracking, the number of wolves in the area can be established.
The results are compiled and compared with previous years' tracking operations. The number of new individuals is established, and the number of new cubs born during the summer can thus be worked out.
The size of the territory and its appearance are also compared with results from previous years. During the tracking operations, tracks and territory markings made by the leader pair (urine and scratch markings) are registered on maps. The compiled map image shows how the wolves move around in the terrain and what the territory looks like.
All tracking operations are based on so-called "backtracking". This means that a trail discovered in the terrain is followed in the direction from which the animal or animals have come. In this way, there is very little risk of encountering the wolf in question. In other words, trackers do not wish to follow the animals in order to catch a glimpse of them, because this causes the animals a great deal of stress.
By using the method of backtracking, the tracker can see what the animal has done, where it has rested, how it has hunted and if it has succeeded in catching any prey. In other words, much more information can be gained from backtracking than from "forward tracking", where the animal would quickly show escape behaviour or other unnatural movement patterns.
Wolves move around over large areas. Due to the fact that especially young wolves move away from their home areas (where they were born and brought up), it is important to investigate sightings and tips reported by the general public. New wolf pairs can establish themselves in previously unoccupied areas, and it is therefore important to be aware of the wolves' movements within the county, and also in the surrounding border areas.
Report your observations:
Your observations and tips about wolves, lynx, wolverines or bears are an important part of the work of mapping the presence and spread of the animals in Värmland and the surrounding area. We are grateful for reports concerning sightings, tracks or other contact with the above mentioned species.
Please call the predator tracking and advice
service: +46 (0)560-10010
Send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org