Grey wolves return
Historically, the grey wolf was among Europe's most widely distributed mammals, but due to people’s fear for their livestock and economic interests this carnivore species has become extinct across much of its former range. In large parts of Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovakia and many other areas, wolves have been trapped, shot and killed to protect cattle and sheep or for their fur.
Back to Austria after a century of absence
The last record of wolves living in Autria was from 1882. But today there is at least one wolf family settled in Austria: a wolf pair and two pups. The unusual place they have chosen to appear after 134 years of absence is the Allentsteig military training area in Austria's northeastern province.
Large and forested, the military training area is a good place for the carnivores to settle. A big section of Allentsteig's 15,000 hectares is protected within the EU’s Natura 2000 network of specially protected sites, and is a home to plenty of other wildlife. The wolf parents probably migrated from the Lusatia region in Central Europe, and have stayed in the area of Allentsteig for the birth of the cubs. The average wolf pack usually is between four and six members, so we expect that more young wolves will be spotted by our camera traps.
A whole family with eight cubs lives in Hungary
New footage of grey wolves were also captured by WWF Hungary’s camera trap in Aggtelek National Park in Northern Hungary. The stream shows an entire family with eight cubs, in daytime, playing in the forest. This unique video marks the success of the efforts to save the natural habitat of large carnivores in Hungary. These cubs are going to leave their mother in late September, at the start of the hunting season, which will make them vulnerable to illegal shooting and harm by humans. WWF-Hungary is working closely with the national park authorities to prevent this.
The first two camera footages show a young grey wolf out in the wild during daytime and walking in the night. “Actually it was this young animal that eventually lead us to the ‘new family’ of its mother. This wolf was born last year, while the newly discovered eight cubs are approximately 3-3,5 months old.” – said Adam Szabo, the wolf researcher of Aggtelek National Park.
The camera trap there is donated by WWF-Hungary to support the research of large carnivores in the region. Due to the efficiency of the research and the threatened safety of the currently discovered family, two additional camera traps were provided to the park by WWF.
“We aim to support the efforts of the national park to gain further information about the large carnivores coming back to Hungarian forests. The new camera traps are going to deliver HD resolution footages with sound recording.” – said Laszlo Galhidy, head of forest conservation at WWF Hungary.
Camera traps help us gain important information about the large carnivores that are returning to European forests, but they can also serve to protect this protected species from shooting, poisoning and other harm.