Germany: Final entry

We’re done for this year and once again we have collected a shedload of data for Peter, so who better to summarise it all than the man himself

In words, we

  • covered 28 10 x 10 km grid cells
  • walked 743 km
  • found 236 wolf scats
  • of these froze 156 scats for later dietary analysis by Lotte
  • of these put 26 in ethanol for DNA analysis
  • we also had two direct sights (one with and one without a photo taken)

As Peter says, this is a huge boost to the official wolf monitoring in Lower Saxony and we can all be proud of what we have achieved. Without the committment of you citizen scientists, only a tiny fraction of these data would have been collected.

Thank you to everyone. I’ll let some of you speak for the expedition as whole and add my personal gratitude and appreciation. The official report will be out within six to twelve months. I look forward to this and to perhaps seeing some of you again, in Germany or elsewhere on this beautiful, fragile planet of ours.

Expedition leader

Group 1
Group 2

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Germany: Three days in a row

Today is  our last day in the field. The last couple of weeks have flown by and our teams have outdone themselves: the top result was 26 km for one team in one day!

Thank you for the support of the many wolf commissioners who have helped us and given us a glimpse of what it means to be at the forefront of a returning predator to a country and a people that have forgotten how to live in side by side to a large carnivore.

When out with one of the wolf commissioners, he was called to look at a flock of sheep that had been attacked. The flock was not protected by the minimum recommended herd protection measures and our citizen scientists experienced first-hand how important herd protection is in a landscape to which the wolves have returned.

Other groups came across groups of majestic red deer and other animals in the forest.

Today we’re on the home straight and we’re full of suspense on what the final preliminary results of this year’s expedition will be. Stay tuned.

Germany: And so it continues…

On Saturday morning, we met ten keen, fresh-faced “ordinary” people from the UK, Germany, Russia, Luxembourg and the USA at Bremen airport. Two days and our training mill later, we have ten citizen scientists ready to go. Go forth, team 2, and bring back those nuggets!


Germany: Good job group 1!

Time flies. Group 1 of 2 is done already. We had a lot of exciting wildlife sightings during the week and we ended the last day of field work with 15 more samples and a good feeling of being successful.

Well done group 1! You can be proud of what you have achieved. 151 scats in total and an amazing number of 97 samples, which were will be used for diet analysis. Once more you have shown how significant the impact of citizen scientists can be, and is, for wolf monitoring in Lower Saxony.

We spent our last evening together travelling around the world including a Chinese tea ceremony, a quick detour into the monitoring of the black-footed ferret in Canada and some photo impressions of the wildlife in our direct neighborhood.

Safe journeys back group 1, to wherever you are going in the world. Thanks a lot and we hope we will meet again in the future, on an expedition or somewhere else on this beautiful planet.

See you tomorrow group 2!

(c) Theo Grüntjens
(c) Theo Grüntjens

Germany: Wolf nuggets and another sighting

Our overnight team is back from the Göhrde with 71 findings, including five DNA samples. Well done!

The others have not been idle either. On Wednesday they went to the Ebstorf region, accompanied by the local wolf commissioner and his four-legged companion. The aim was to solve the mystery of whether there were wolves in the area. Seven DNA samples and a total of 15 findings later, it was clear that they are present. And as if to emphasise their existence, at the end of the day, just a few meters from the car – a WOLF! It appeared on the forest path at some distance, looked briefly in the direction of our happy observers and walked calmly away. A memory that will last forever.

(c) Torsten Berg
(c) Torsten Berg
(c) Torsten Berg
(c) Torsten Berg

Germany: Two wolf pups and other adventures

We’ve been very busy in the field for the past couple of days.

Six of us went for an overnight trip to the Ghörde area with wolf commissioner Kenny of Kenners Landlust and produced a haul of 30 scats and a sighting of two wolf pups!

Others checked camera traps (no wolf on them) and/or went with wolf commissioner Theo: their haul was six scats.

Not bad at all for a Monday and Tuesday in the office!

(c) Torsten Berg
(c) Torsten Berg
(c) Torsten Berg
(c) Torsten Berg
(c) Torsten Berg

Germany: Trained and off the leash

Team 1 of this year’s Germany wolf expedition now knows almost everything there is to know about wolves in Germany, GPSs, data collection, marking waypoints, creating tracks, and most importantly finding and collecting those wolf research nuggets otherwise known as scat (in clever) and poo (in the vernacular). Well done team 1 for absorbing it all in record time.

Our reward was “wolf alley” during our Sunday training walk near Meißendorf. A piece of heath and woodland near our base where a wolf pack has recently been active in all sorts of ways, including leaving so many nuggets that we ran out of time recording and collecting them all. Quite a gold digger’s haul already at the beginning of the expedition.

Our new base is great, pulling out all the stops and serving us lots of excellent food. Only the internet connection in this remote part of the internet developing world that is Germany leaves something to be desired.

This Monday morning, we are off Peter’s, the scientist, leash and looking forward to heading out in four small independent groups in search of more gold. Wish us luck and good hunting. Especially if it was run over by a tyre and separated.

Germany: Getting ready

The drive from Sweden to Germany via the Göteborg – Kiel ferry was good. Although the expeditions are different (bears in Sweden), the equipment is similar. GPSs, scat collection kits, etc.

Leaving Sweden

All this is now at our base of Gut Sunder (Sunder estate) and pretty much set up. Now our preparation list is down to some shopping, as well as setting survey areas for our citizen scientists to cover.

Today is a pleasant sunny and warm day (23C). So get ready and safe travels team 1. We look forward to meeting you at Bremen airport.

Germany: Opener

Welcome to the blog for the German wolf expedition 2019. My name is Matthias Hammer and I will be your expedition leader for this expedition. With us also will be Peter Schuette, our expedition scientist, and we both look forward to meeting you soon.

Peter Schuette (right) and Matthias Hammer (left). The person in the middle is previous expedition leader Malika Fettak who is in the Tien Shan at the moment.

I am on the Sweden bear expedition at the moment. It finishes tomorrow and I will then pack up and drive straight to Lower Saxony to set up the Germany expedition with Peter there.

You may be aware that there has been a heatwave in Europe with temperatures of up to 40C in Germany. It is meant to last for a few days longer only, but then the drop in temperature is forecast to be only 10C too, so expect a balmy 30C something. More on the weather and other conditions on the ground when I get there on Wednesday.

I hope your preparations are going well and you have all read the dossier, swotted up by reading the 2018 report and familiarised yourself with the scientific and cultural background.

I’ll be in touch again once I have made it to the expedition base. Safe travels and see you Sunday next week, group 1.

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