18. June 2020|In Wolf protection

The memory of winter

When it gets hot, I sometimes reminisce the snow with longing. What snow, you ask? And rightly so, because the recent climate changes make the snowball fight a memory from the old days, and I probably put on snowshoes so that I do not forget how to do it 😊.
Snow and winter temperatures have a significant influence on wildlife. Not much snow and high temperatures mean that bears come out of the lair even in the middle of winter or do not hibernate at all, except for females giving birth to cubs in the lairs. Cervidae do not have to migrate to the lower parts of the mountains and south-facing slopes to find food. Wild boars, which are particularly sensitive to harsh winter conditions, successfully survive the winter and have bigger broods. Ungulates are also in better condition making it more difficult for wolves and lynxes to hunt them. Moreover, while chasing a potential prey, predators lose the advantage offered by thick, frozen on top snow cover making it easier to catch up with deer falling in it. For researchers of large predators, mild winters have many disadvantages – the lack of or rapidly disappearing snow makes it impossible to track animals, and positive temperatures mean that the genetic material in the scats decomposes quickly.
Fortunately, in the Polish mountains, even in such a mild winter as recently, you can sometimes find snow. Last winter, as part of the monitoring of large predators in the areas of NATURA 2000 “Ostoja Gorczańska” and “Ostoja Popradzka”; we tracked wolves, lynxes and bears in the snow in Gorce and Beskid Sądecki. During tracking, in the most promising places, e.g. at scent markings, we set up photo traps. See the winter recordings of wolves from the Limanowa Forest District and the lynx from the Forest Experimental Station in Krynica, and as a dessert – a spring bear from the LZD in Krynica.
The material was realized by the Institute of Nature Conservation of the Polish Academy of Sciences as part of the program of the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection in Krakow (POIS.02.04.00-00-0191 / 16-00 ” Inwentaryzacja cennych siedlisk przyrodniczych kraju, gatunków występujących w ich obrębie oraz stworzenie Banku Danych o Zasobach Przyrodniczych”).

Katarzyna Bojarska