Orphaned, Injured Wolf Sent to Zoo Rather than be Re-Released Back into the Wild Where, According to Slovakia’s Laws, She Could be Hunted | WWF
Orphaned, Injured Wolf Sent to Zoo Rather than be Re-Released Back into the Wild Where, According to Slovakia’s Laws, She Could be Hunted

Posted on 28 October 2019

Daisy could have been treated and brought back from the brink of death for nothing
An annual wolf hunting quota is set by a special commission at the Ministry of Agriculture every October. The season lasts between November 1-January 15. Since 2000, more than 1760 wolves have been legally killed in Slovakia. Inexplicably, the quota was set at 70 animals for the 2018/2019 season. WWF-Slovakia and 27 other NGOs organised a petition to completely ban wolf hunting in the country. The action drew over 60,000 signatures in a very short period of time. In reaction, the Ministry of Agriculture did reduce the quota to 35 for the 2019/2020 season; but even this is unacceptable. Five Slovak MEPs have written a letter to the European Commission which could lead to a possible infringement case being brought against the Slovak Government.

Daisy is an orphan, found abandoned, starved and weakened in Malužinská dolina, in the Low Tatras National Park. Even though hope for her survival was low, Daisy was a warrior and pulled through. If released back into the wild, Daisy could have been treated and brought back from the brink of death for nothing, only to be killed by hunters soon after. She was returned to the safety of a zoo rather than her home range.

"Daisy was wild, she belonged to the wilderness. She always has one ear raised, paying attention to what was happening around her," says Metod Macek from the Animal Rescue Station in Zazriva.According to official data, Central and Eastern Europe is home to over a third of the approximately 12,000 wolves living in Europe (excluding Russia). These ecologically critical, strictly protected and culturally significant mammals are threatened not only by illegal and legal hunting, but also by increasing fragmentation and shrinkage of their habitats brought about by the construction of roads and other infrastructure.

We were not afraid that she couldn't take care of herself in in the wild, but she had spent time with people during her recovery, which slightly suppressed her natural wariness. She only has to hesitate for a second and it could be fatal. If the wolves were not hunted, we would not hesitate to release her for a second. The zoo is never the first solution for our animals,” says Metod Macek.

WWF-Slovakia spoke about Daisy and the petition with Metod Macek from the Rescue Station for Injured Animals in Zázrivá.
 
Do you remember when Daisy came to you?
A colleague – a zoologist from the Low Tatras National Park – informed the station that people had reported a stray dog, and that they would go after it if we wouldn't take it. Our station has a very good background and cooperation with veterinarians who are our “friends on the phone,” whenever necessary. When Daisy was brought in, she was a small, four month old pup. She was very skinny and pathetic. It was clear that she had been starving for a long time. We gave her a 30% chance of survival. ”

But you managed to save her.
When we brought her here in the evening, she could barely keep her head up. We called our veterinarian Dorotka Markovic from Veterina Turiec, who said that she had to be warmed immediately. We warmed her under electric blankets, and then around ten o'clock in the evening we took her to the doctor. She was given an infusion and after a few hours her condition slightly improved. She was a fighter. She stayed on "infusions for 4-5 days, then gradually began recover and to take food in small amounts.”

How long did she stay with you?
She came in August 2017 and stayed for nine months. At our station, we don't just leave animals in pens. Those that require constant attention stay at home with us so we can intervene immediately if there is a problem. Even Daisy stayed with us in the house for the first few days. She found her corner under the TV and came out when she wanted to. She had a certain refinement. She was playful, but she remained shy, never doing anything she didn't want to. Daisy grew up here and she became very friendly with our Belgian shepherd who is trained not to hurt the animals. Every time she saw him, she was very excited and friendly with him. ”

When did you decide that Daisy wouldn't be released back into the wild?
As she recovered and grew, we wondered what to do next. There were two options - either going back to nature or the zoo. It was a difficult decision. DNA tests confirmed that Daisy is a pure Carpathian wolf, so we did not at first want the zoo. But wolf hunting is still sanctioned by the Government.  Wolves roam wide areas and often go to the foothills of the national parks for food - especially in autumn and winter when it is legal to hunt them. And they hunt them here, in the foothills of the Low Tatras National Park, Malá or Veľká Fatra and other national parks, but also in the foothills of the Strážovské Hills. There was a real danger if Daisy had escaped, heard or saw something and hesitated for even just a second out of curiosity, that could have been fatal to her. I didn't want her to end up in the zoo, but there was no other solution. ”

Daisy found her corner in the house. And she only came out when she wanted to. Photo: Rescue station for injured animals Zázrivá

Daisy is in Bojnice Zoo today. How's she doing?
We didn't want her to end up in a small pen in which they had other wolves. We managed to agree with the zoo and Daisy got the best pen - in the back, where they enclosed a piece of forest. So Daisy decides herself  if she wants to be seen, it's possible, but if she wants peace, she has a chance and can remain hidden among bushes and uprooted trees. Today, Daisy already has a mate, Wolfi brought from Switzerland. They quickly understood each other perfectly, and it was immediately clear that they would be a couple. This spring, Daisy bore  three sons. We call them "Daisuljatka."

Video: Jakub Krška

What is Wolfi's story?
"Wolfi is not a wild wolf. He was born and raised in a zoo -the second or third generation raised in the zoo."
 
I will go back to the beginning. Do you know why Daisy was left in the forest?
Next to Daisy, they also found the remains of another wolf, about the same age. It could be Daisy's sister. And what can happen to a wolf in the wild, leaving two pups behind? I don't want to speculate and throw decent hunters in one bag, because I have friends among them and I know they wouldn't shoot them, but I also know there are those who would. A parent does not leave their pups without a serious reason. It was August. At that time the mother and the young should be roaming together, the pups learning how to hunt on their own.  And imagine what happens if a shot is heard. All scatter, running away in every direction trying to save their own hides as the hunting dogs join in pursuit ...

Since the opening of the station in 2001, you have helped nearly a thousand animals. Were there other wolves or other large carnivores like a lynx or bear?
Daisy was our second wolf. We received another young wolf in about 2005, also found by people, abandoned in Ľubochnianská Valley. But he was in much better shape than Daisy. He was not fighting for his life. He was older and he soon left us. We have had about 7 -8 bears. Lately, bears come to us regularly every year. ”

How do animal species change in you during the year?
It follows the cycle of  nature, but all year round we are dominated by birds, namely owls - especially forest owls or long-eared owls, and birds of prey - especially the golden eagles and  falcons. I specialise in the golden eagle, and we founded the station precisely because at the time, these wounded birds of prey had  nowhere to go. Gradually, however, we began to care for other animal species as well. Ttoday we are able to accept every animal. ”
 
Are humans the main cause of the wildlife injuries you see?
Of course, 90% of the cases that come to us are the result of human activity.  Power lines are the main culprit. We have 300,000 electricity poles in Slovakia. Although the installation of barriers and other measures are making them safer for wildlife, there is still a high rate of injury and death. In the second place, birds are colliding with windows more frequently. These are mainly songbirds and other smaller birds in urban areas. Today there is glass everywhere. It has become a modern architectural element. But the windows on the buildings are mirrors to birds. When a bird flies, it sees a reflection of a tree or sky in the glass and flies into it full force.”

What about transport? Do you also get animals from traffic accidents?
Transport is the third most common reason. There are more trains, buses and especially cars. They travel at such a density that animals have no chance to cross the road. And then there is another special period - and this is the time when the young begin finding their own legs. People want to help and sometimes unnecessarily carry off a baby that parents could take care of. They see a small thrush in the park and feel it needs help, so they take it from under their mother's beak that would come to feed him in a minute. That's why we do campaigns about not removing chicks from parents, and we have lectures at the station every weekend. People like to go to them and I feel that awareness is growing. ”

Let’s go back to the wolves.  Nearly 30 NGOS and 60,000 people have called for a halt to wolf hunting. Do you agree with the request to stop wolf hunting in Slovakia?
"Absolutely. Our whole station, all our patients and collaborators support this petition. ”

For more information:
Andrea Hajduchova
Media and PR Officer,
WWF-Slovakia
ahajduchova@wwfsk.org, Tel: +421 908 700 857

Given only a 30% chance to survival
© Záchranná stanica
Daisy's temporary den under the TV
© Záchranná stanica pre zranené živočíchy Zázrivá
Metod Macek with one of his rescued owls
© Záchranná stanica pre zranené živočíchy Zázrivá