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Feature story

Mission wolf - acceptance through monitoring and educational work in Brandenburg

Overview

Constanze Eiser is a wolf adviser in the Lusatia region in the state of Brandenburg, where a large number of wolf packs live in abandoned open-cast mines. She takes care of monitoring and teaches people about the behaviour of the animals - on guided tours, at schools and wherever there is a need.


Story by

Constanze Eiser

Contact

Occupation

Conservation/Nature Parks

Location

Rehein, Massen-Niederlausitz

Province

Brandenburg, Germany


Chapter 1

starting point

Constanze Eiser used to be a teacher for biology and sports until she moved to a region where the wolf is present and causes a bad atmosphere within the population. Before the fall of the Wall, western Lower Lusatia was characterized by many open-cast mines in which huge machines mined the lignite and hard coal. Due to the political decision to phase out coal mining, most of these areas are now abandoned and offer an ideal habitat for wolves - there are hardly any people there and they offer enough prey and the necessary peace for bringing up the offspring.

Gradually, Constanze Eiser became interested in the wolf and took part in numerous seminars and trainings to support monitoring. She photographed traces and collected evidence for genetic analysis in order to determine the number of packs, couples and individuals. There is a very high density of wolves in the area - more than a third of all wolves monitored in Germany live in Brandenburg.

 “The wolf is our largest preying animal that lives in packs. I am particularly fascinated by their similarities with us humans, especially when it comes to their social behaviour.”

Chapter 2

approach

Nowadays Constanze Eiser's hobby has become a vocation. She currently works as a wolf adviser in Brandenburg on a voluntary basis. Together with around 30 colleagues, she monitors more than 40 packs in the state. On behalf of the Brandenburg Landesamt für Umwelt, she is active in three particular regions (Grünhaus, Rehain and Wannichen) to document and evaluate the development of "her" packs. In addition, she advises livestock owners on how to protect their animals and offers educational events for citizens. With wolf hikes in the former mines or at lectures in nature conservation centres, she conveys important facts about the biology and behaviour of wolves.

“The image of the wolves is often shaped by the media and the panic it creates. That's why I use a lot of facts, studies and numbers and bring people to the places where wolves live. I hope this will lead to a fact-based discussion. "

Species monitoring

The monitoring of certain species delivers a collection of relevant data about numbers and behaviours of individuals and populations. The knowledge about the development of a population delivers a reliable base for decisions about their management and allows a planning according to the actual circumstances. There is a range of monitoring methods as well as there are various technical systems to collect and store the data. One method to deal with the different categories of evidence is SCALP /with the categories C1, C2, C3). One scientifically proven tool to monitor large carnivores is the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART).

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Piotr Chmielewski

25.08.2018

The number of wolves and lynx were assessed for whole forest complexes, not for particular administrative and economic units such as forest districts or hunting districts. Within the forest complexes, 70 inventory divisions were set up, including several forest districts and possibly a national park, separated from other parts of the complex by distinct natural or anthropogenic barriers, which could form the boundaries of the wolves and lynx territories. In each such area a coordinator was appointed, who directed the work of all units within its borders. Also in each superintendence and national park were people responsible for organization of counting and data collection. The inventory was based on two basic field activities: a year-long collection of all carnivores observations and coordinated winter traces. This was a non-binding measure implemented by Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences in the frame of National wolf and lynx inventory in forest superintendents and national parks in the whole country in the Instytut Biologii Ssaków Polskiej Akademii Nauk, ul. Stoczek 1, 17-230 Białowieża. It specifically involved Foresters, General public, Administrative staff (government). It operated for 12 years (from 2000 to 2012) and received partial financial support from Own funds, financial support of the.Please reply to this post for more information or reach out directly to Stefan Jakimiuk.

Piotr Chmielewski

25.08.2018

Main project actions: 1. Population monitoring and scientific research on carnivores. During the winter there was intense tracking of wolves and lynx, and bear traces were also recorded. In the spring and summer, carnivores were found on walking transect networks. Carnivores, as well as all other traces of their presence - faeces, urine marking and scratching, remnants of prey, lairs - were recorded in databases of the same structure as the database of nationwide wolf and lynx inventory. 2. Prevention of damage caused by large carnivores in breeding livestock. 3. Conservation of habitats for large carnivores. Identification of young breeding and breeding sites, as well as bears, has allowed the development of recommendations and actions to protect the habitats of large carnivores in the region. 4. Education of the society. The Association for Nature Wolf ran various forms of education devoted to large carnivores. Between 1996 and 2013 more than 80 lectures, lectures and trainings were held, attended by more than 3,000 adults,pupils, and children from kindergartens. The Association also organizes Wolf Workshops, which train volunteers to help in collecting data about wolves in the field. 5. Rehabilitation of animals and restoring them to the environment. During the project several wolves and lynx were found, which required direct help. 6. Protection of transboundary populations. The study of the wolves in the Beskid Żywiecki has shown how important they are to the conservation status of this predator in the Polish Natura 2000 sites Based on the results of the research, The Association for Nature Wolf lobbied for a cross-border approach to the protection of common populations of large carnivores. This was a non-binding measure implemented by The Association for Nature Wolf in the frame of The protection of large carnivores in the Western Carpathians in a province in the Stowarzyszenie dla Natury Wilk, Twardorzeczka, ul. Cynkowa 4, 34-324 Lipowa. It specifically involved Beekeepers, Livestock risers, Foresters, General public, Administrative staff (government). It operated for 20 years (from 1997 to 2017) and received partial financial support from Own funds, EuroNatur Foundation (Gerrmany), International Fund for Animal Welfare (USA), Wolves and Humans Foundation (Great Britain) and own funds of The Association for Nature Wolf..Please reply to this post for more information or reach out directly to Stefan Jakimiuk.

Piotr Chmielewski

25.08.2018

Information on the conservation status of wolves and lynx in the country, including information on population status, habitat assessment, population perspectives and overall conservation status of these species. Information gained from the comparative analysis of the results of this project with the results of other projects on the use of the most up-to-date monitoring methods, including the introduction of wolf genetic testing methods, and the coherence of the results of monitoring carried out under the National Monitoring of Environment with monitoring results at the level of Natura 2000 sites in the framework of the implementation of the conservation plans and security plans nature conservation authorities. This was a non-binding measure implemented by Polish Chief Inspectorate for Environmental Protection in the frame of Pilotage monitoring of the populations of wolf and lynx in Poland in the whole country in the the whole country - pilot ongoing project. It specifically involved Hunters, Foresters, General public, Administrative staff (government). It operated in 2017 and received partial financial support from EU funds, Project co-financed by EU funds under the Infrastructure and Environment Operational Program 2014-2020, within the framework of the 2nd Axis of Environmental Priority, including adaptation to climate change. Action 2.4 Nature protection and ecological education, implemented in the Environmental Monitoring and Information Department of the General Inspectorate for Environmental Protection..Please reply to this post for more information or reach out directly to Ing. Slavomir Findo CSc..

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Information Centre

The establishment of information centres can be a helpful tool in regions where large carnivores are around. As a contact point in national parks and nature reserves, they help to inform tourists and hikers about native animals and educate them so that they can avoid conflicts. A lot of countries have shown that it is also crucial to establish regional advisers and/or facilities for particularly affected groups such as livestock owners, hunters and foresters. Personal exchanges are very important for giving individual advice. At the same time, it is also important to provide information online - particularly the monitoring data and management plans should be accessible to everyone.

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Chapter 3

outlook

Although prevention measures have increased in recent years, Constanze Eiser believes that more staff are needed to ensure that livestock owners are well advised and get unbureaucratic support when they have to deal with losses. She also wishes for more opportunities and approaches to educate the rural population about the species and wolves’ way of life.

“If you want to promote acceptance, you have to communicate transparently and clearly. Public relations in rural areas should be strengthened in order to involve everyone and to avoid conflicts."

For Constanze Eiser, this acceptance begins at school. The earlier the children learn that wolves are an important and exciting part of the ecosystem, the sooner they can accept their presence as adults or even as future farmers and hunters. This is why she visits a lot of schools and talks about her work. By showing pictures from the camera traps, she invites the students to get involved with the new wilderness in their immediate environment and the wolf as a part of it.

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