Conservation and surveillance of conservation status of wolf (Canis lupus) population in Slovenia (SloWolf)

The wolf (Canis lupus), is a large-carnivore species with a historically controversial relationship with humans. The wolf is an important species listed in conservation documents such as the EU Habitat Directive and the Bern Convention. The animal is indigenous to the mosaic of natural and cultural landscapes of Slovenia. Forests, which represent a high quality habitat for wolves, are well preserved in the country and create an excellent base for successful long-term conservation of the animal. The main conservation challenge is reconciliation of the spectrum of human activities, interests and fears with the needs of the wolf.

The goal of the project is to facilitate long-term conservation of wolves, their prey base and their habitats in Slovenia. It will particularly aim to take into account human attitudes towards the wolf in order to overcome any apparent conflicts through a Wolf Management Action Plan. The project will aim to provide accurate scientific information on the wolf through a specific national wolf-surveillance system. Different adapted techniques - including non-invasive genetic sampling and GPS-GSM telemetry - will be used to monitor: population size and reproductive success; habitat use and preying rate; health status; and the number and distribution of wolf packs and litters. Three surveillance sessions will be carried out during the project. All the information will be centralised into a publically accessible internet-based portal. This scientific information will help inform the drafting of the species conservation action plan. This will be done in consultation with the range of stakeholders through facilitated workshops. The prey base of wolves will be assessed along with the damage wolves do to agricultural concerns. Prey species management guidelines will be drawn up. Potential ‘hot spots’ for wolf-human conflict will be identified and best practices recommended to deal with these. Four actions to protect livestock will be demonstrated and a damage-inspection manual provided. The key activity of promoting the peaceful coexistence of wolves and human activities will be fostered through educational material, seminars and a targeted public awareness and education campaign. The project will survey attitudes of the general public, hunters and sheep farmers towards wolves and their knowledge of the species. This will help both inform and evaluate the success of the project’s educational activities.

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