After successful training sessions on Sunday and Monday, we split into four teams today. The surveys mainly followed forest tracks in deep snow and provided immediate excitement as Pat, James and I spotted two lynx tracks just 300 metres from the main road in the valley of Velka Fatra National Park. Our tracker Milos found wolf tracks on one of the ridges and later a roe deer carcass, killed by a wolf pack! The foresters’ report was that there were no wolves in the valley due to the amounts of snow, but we could prove otherwise, so that’s a nice example of how on-the-ground research can show long-held beliefs to be wrong. David, Marcel, Rudolf and Tomas found bear tracks, also close to the main road. Hopefully this was not all just beginners luck!
David (with snow shoes) was brave following Milos (on skies) for 14 kilometres setting up two camera traps close to the wolf kill and their tracks. The other team covered between 5 and 7 kilometres on different routes again finding tracks of bears. They should really be in hibernation now, but Tomas thinks some of them have become active as it was quite warm in the beginning of January. The foresters reported a sighting of one wolf and have found another carcass and at the same time we received message of a carcass close to the lynx tracks! So we placed camera traps everywhere and can’t wait for the results! Everybody is doing a great job here walking in deep snow uphill, downhill in minus 20 centigrade with frosty breezes!