Wolf families in the southern part of the Świętokrzyskie region

In the summer and autumn of 2023, we searched for signs of the presence of wolf families in the southern part of the Świętokrzyskie region. From July to October, we conducted howling stimulation, recorded the presence of wolves using photo traps, and searched for tracks and droppings. Our main goal was to detect wolf reproduction in individual forest complexes.

Wolf pups are born in burrows or in lairs under uproots, overhanging conifer branches or in dense youngsters. After leaving the burrow/lair, the sub-adult pups remain in a place called the rendez-vous (“meeting place”). They are then usually under the care of at least one adult (hubby) at all times, while other adult wolves bring them food.

Rendez-vous may be changed every few days or so, but are sometimes used for a number of weeks. Sometimes these are open clearings, but most often well-hidden and inaccessible parts of the forest, such as tree heaps, youngsters or islands in swamps. In such places one can find lairs, numerous droppings, remains of prey and so-called “wolf toys” in the form of bitten bones, plastic bottles or cans. From the rendez-vous, wolf pups and their keepers often respond with howls to vocal stimulation.

We were able to ascertain the presence of the following family groups (packs):

🟠 The Jędrzejów pack:

Using photo traps, we found the presence of at least 2-3 adult individuals in this complex. Despite repeated stimulation of howling, we were unable to register the presence of pups. However, we found a meeting place, probably from last year, with accumulated wolf toys – bitten plastic bottles and a motor oil container. This testifies to the presence of pups in 2022.

🔴 The Szydłów pack (Chmielnik Forest District):

Five pups and one adult responded to our howling. Wolves also reproduced in the same place in 2022, and then there were also 5 pups (note from September 20, 2022 “April pups from Chmielnik Forest District“). Noteworthy is the fact that the wolf family is reproducing in a forest complex with a very small area of only about 6 km2.

🟣 The Staszów pack:

We found the presence of 3-4 pups and one adult that responded to our howling.

🔵 The Raków pack:

3-4 pups and 2 adults responded to our howling.

🟡 The Łagów pack:

Also in this complex, we found 4-5 pups and 2 adults based on the stimulation of howling.

🟢 The Daleszyce pack:

In summer and autumn, we observed the presence of at least 5 adults on the photo trap recordings. Neither on the recordings nor during the stimulation of howling we were unable to confirm the presence of pups. At the end of April, however, we recorded a pregnant female, which probably gave birth to pups in the immediate area.
Wolves have been breeding in the area for at least several years. In 2021, we recorded the presence of 6 pups (note dated December 20, 2021 “Wolf family from Daleszycki Forest“), and in 2022 – 8 pups (video dated November 15, 2022 “Growing up wolf pups in the Daleszycki Forest“).

The relatively high number of wolf families in the monitored area indicates the presence of quiet and hard-to-reach (to humans) breeding sites where predators can breed. Also important for wolves is the high density of ungulates in the area.

Authors: Tomasz Bracik, Mariusz Wlazło, Paweł Gola