Germany: scatless miles, then scats galore

Göhrde forest is usually a bank for fresh scats. But everything is different this year. Four teams in the forest all day Monday and we found almost nothing – just one old and one fresh scat. Local wolf commissioner Kenny was also baffled, wondering where the Göhrde could be, but then the area really is huge.

On Tuesday we met with our old friends and fellow wolf commissioners Ulrike and Volker to explore various areas in the Wendisch Evern territory. The key question in this area is whether there are offspring. A pair of wolves has been documented there for a while, but reproduction has never been proven. There, too, we were only moderately successful, despite having had four groups in the field for the day in six different areas. We found only one scat good enough for nutritional analysis. The think the core area of the wolf pair is probably on a restricted military area, which we are not allowed to enter.

So we walked over 200 km on Monday and Tuesday and only had very scarce findings to show for it.

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But Wednesday was the day. We drove to the Amt Neuhaus area on the eastern side of the river Elbe with four teams. Teams 1 and 4 were reasonably successful, team 3 found an unbelievable number of almost fifty 2-4 week old scats! However, most of them were no longer usable for nutritional analysis, as theywere too old, rotten or incomplete – so those stayed in the field. But team 2 stole the show and brought home 29 samples, some of them fresh and complete enough to run genetic analysis on. As a reward for all the kilometres we covered, we treated ourselves to ice cream!

Thursday is our last day of the community expedition. Too bad, as there is still so much to do and we’ve also had great fun together. It only goes to show how important the full international expeditions, with more people and more time, are for gathering monitoring data actively. We are doing what we can this year, given the circumstances, but are already looking forward to having a full expedition out again next year (see the dates and join us then!).

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