Important predator without a lobby
Why wolf protection is so important, especially in Poland:
There are an estimated 2,000 wolves in Poland. As an important player in ecosystems, they should actually enjoy comprehensive protection. After all, a whole range of bird and mammal species feed on the remains of wolf kills. Even the manure of decomposed prey releases nitrogen into the soil and promotes plant vegetation as a natural fertiliser.
Wolf protection in Poland is therefore enormously important, emphasises Dr Roman Gula, wolf researcher, professor at the Polish Academy of Sciences and SAVE Poland Foundation Director. But it exists more on paper than in practice.
The reasons, Roman Gula explains, are manifold. First of all, the wolf still struggles with a bad image in Poland, just as it does in Germany and many other countries. The image of the man-eating wolf can hardly be eradicated.
For people whose livelihood is livestock farming, the wolf is a serious problem. Wolves are capable of killing not just one or two animals, but the entire herd very quickly. In Poland, the losses are compensated by the state treasury, but this always means bureaucratic effort.
According to Roman Gula, it is very difficult to really protect the wolf in Poland. Many hunters regard wolves as pests. Some of them do not hesitate to shoot them when the opportunity arises. One of the transmittered wolves of the research pack has already been shot from a hunting pulpit. It was found: The more wolves there are in Poland, the more are shot by hunters. The extent of poaching is also increasing.
There are, the wolf researcher regrets, simply no mechanisms through enforcement of wolf protection in Poland. No authority is able to enforce the ban on shooting wolves. A few national hunting guards per province are definitely not enough. The wolf simply has no lobby in Poland at the crucial places.
That is why educating the population is so important: information events, workshops, cooperation with schools and authorities: All these are pieces of the puzzle for more effective wolf protection.
It is gratifying that more and more volunteers are joining the team around Roman Gula. Only with a certain number of field researchers are profound findings possible. At the same time, the need for photo traps, telemetry collars, GPS devices and walkie-talkies is increasing. In addition, there are genetic tests for DNA evaluation.