It’s already expedition day five and all the teams have been out in the field every day – time for an update on our activities! After the introduction & training days on Saturday and Sunday, we split ourselves up into four groups and went to different locations each day.
We conducted an intensive survey in the Celle district close to base on Monday, but unfortunately the scat samples of the resident pack we found weren’t fresh enough for DNA analysis.
On Tuesday & Wednesday a team of four went north (district Luechow–Dannenberg) for an overnighter. Clare, Susanne, Rudolph & I camped in the backyard of Kenny’s Biohotel Kenners LandLust and were briefed on the survey routes by wolf commissioner Kenny himself. (Wolf commissioners are local people trained in wolf surveying and assisting their community with reporting and dealing with wolf-related incidences. They are important links between local communities and the state’s efforts in monitoring wolves and dealing with the consequences of their presence). It is known that two packs reside on Kenny’s wolf commissioner patch, but DNA sampling of individuals is missing, so our main job was to hunt for fresh scat from which DNA can be extracted. So we hunted and we found. 65 (!) samples, to be exact, with fewer than ten fresh enough for DNA sampling. It was way past midnight when Peter, with Lea assisting, finished sorting, labelling and freezing them.
Other teams went to the districts of Harburg, Heidekreis and Holzminden. Some of these areas called in and requested that we come and survey them. This is quite a change from last year, when there was a lot of skepticism about citizen science. But we stuck at it and our 2017 report, and the great results detailed therein, has silenced the critics.
No results in Holzminden (a new area), but we made a first assessment and will continue looking for proof of wolves. Some of us met wolf commissioner Theo again, who took a group out investigating “his” area. Others met shepherd Holger and his guarding dogs.
Overall we found 99 (!) scats samples so far, 13 of which were fresh enough to attempt DNA extraction and analysis.
I’ll let you have a review of the first week shortly; Friday will be the last day of group 1. For now enjoy the pictures and some wolf howling, and those preparing for the next week, get ready, get excited! The weather here was changeable up until Tuesday, but next week is meant to be warm and dry throughout.
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