Coauthor: Irina Rotenko
In Naliboki Forest persecution of wolves by hunters, trampling of their pups by bison, elks and red deer stags, killing of their pups by lynxes and even brown bears stopped reproduction in local wolves and conditioned presence of only 20-25 wolves there in the warm season. The particular details of this process you may get know in our blogs (sidorovich.blog) and recently published second edition of the book "Reproductive biology in grey wolves Canis lupus in Belarus: Common beliefs versus reality" (Sidorovich and Rotenko, 2019) or in the first edition of the book.
Still in the last four years, while having not many adult wolves in Naliboki Forest in the warm season, every winter they come there for mating (there were up 80 of them in March), because still there were much wolf smell at the species marking points afterwards regular marking of 15-25 wolves during autumn and early winter. So, still we had enough wolves in Nalibokli Forest, but more or less seasonally.
Summer 2019 was especially dramatic for wolves in Naliboki Forest, that may brake the usual pumping of the Naliboki Forest by wolves in the mid-winter. We will describe the wolf vanishing situation in Naliboki Forest in 2018-2019 more detailed. Concerning the sources of information we have been obtained, that was camera-trapping by about 50 camera-traps put in wolf sites (together with Wild Naliboki team) as well as regular (every 15 days) inspecting of all roads and principal wolf places. When there are few wolves in a terrain and long-term experience with the species there, it is really possible job. Also, in August we much howled for wolves with a special megaphone. Usually, at least, wolf pups answer easily.
In the early December of 2018 in Naliboki Forest there were only 22 adult wolves and 4 pups of the year. Again 10 or even 14 of them were hunted till February, whereas in February and March of 2019 the number of wolves in Naliboki Forest approximately varied from 50 to almost 80 individuals (mostly adults arrived for mating). Then in late March and the first half of April there were censused 67 wolves mostly in 25 breeding couples and larger groups of wolf breeders up to 4. Again, in May-July of 2019 in Naliboki Forest during a lot of investigation of wolf denning we found that in the terrain there were denned only 4 breeding groups: two single breeding and two double breeding; 6 litters altogether. Till July we got much that already one wolf litter was killed by bears, and another one was extirpated by lynx. Besides pups there were registered 23 mostly adult wolves.
In July 2019 in Naliboki Forest were registered maximum 14 adult wolves and perhaps 9 pups from two litters. In the end of August and September there were definitely no any pups found within the forest and for sure we registered 7 adult wolves only. May be we missed 1 to 3 adult wolves, but that will not principally improve the wolf demise situation. For sure few (perhaps a half) of them will be killed by hunters in autumn and there will be not enough wolf smell in Naliboki Forest anymore. So there in the next mating season in 2020 wolves may not coming in Naliboki Forest. Really, we are loosing wolves in the forest on our eyes.