Wolf. Occurrence, social structure

The wolf is the direct ancestor of the dog. There is a species of gray wolf in Poland.

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1. The wolf. Characteristics of the species

The wolf is a mammal belonging to the carnivora order and the Canidae family. It occurs in the northern part of Eurasia and America. It lives in forests, mountains, vast plains, and wetlands.

The wolf is the direct ancestor of the dog, in appearance it resembles the Alsatian Shepherd Dog, but differs from it in a slim figure, narrow chest, lean rump, long limbs and smaller ears. The body structure enables the wolf to steadily walk and, if necessary, to run quickly, long-distance.


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Wolves have an excellent sense of smell and hearing, it is thanks to these senses that they hunt and communicate with other wolves. Wolves, on the other hand, have poor eyesight. During the day, they see worse than humans, they see moving objects better than stationary ones. What's more, color-blinders - they recognize mainly gray, yellow and blue.

The wolf is a highly territorial animal. He marks his family's territory with urine. The howl, on the other hand, is used for communication between individuals and for tightening the group's bonds.

2. Species of wolves

There are six main species of wolves:

  • gray wolf;
  • Iberian wolf;
  • arctic wolf;
  • arabic wolf;
  • red wolf;
  • Ethiopian wolf.

## Gray wolf. Occurrence in Poland

There is a species of gray wolf in Poland. The greatest number of wolves live in the following voivodships: Podkarpackie, Małopolskie, Podlaskie, Warmińsko-Mazurskie.

The biggest sanctuary for wolves are the Carpathian Mountains and the Carpathian Foothills. It is estimated that these areas are inhabited by approx. 200 wolves.

According to official data of the Chief Inspectorate for Environmental Protection, in 2019 there were about 2,000 wolves in Poland.

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3. Social structure of wolves

At the age of two, the wolf reaches sexual maturity and leaves the family in search of a mate and its hunting territory.

Wolves are monogamous, they mate for life. In 92 percent. cases their relationship ends due to the death of one of the partners. It often happens due to human fault. Many wolves in Poland die under the wheels of cars, trains or as a result of poaching.

Wolves have one litter per year. January and February is the mating season. She-wolf pregnancy lasts 63-65 days. Young wolves are born at the turn of March and April and there are 2 to 6 puppies in one litter.

During the lactation period, the she-wolf does not leave the puppies, and the food is provided by her partner. After about 6 weeks, the young wolves switch to a meat diet. When the parents go hunting, the puppies are looked after by their older siblings.

Despite the loving care of the whole wolf family, at most half of the litter survives the first year.

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4. Wolves. Diet and hunting

According to telemetry studies, the hunting territory of a wolf family living in Poland is about 250 km² in the lowlands, and in the mountains - about 150 km².

The basis of the wolf's diet is ungulates. Wolves mainly hunt deer, roe deer, wild boar, elk and also beavers. However, wolves mainly kill old, young and sick because they are easier to hunt. Thanks to this, the biological balance is maintained in the forest.

Due to the selection of weak individuals, mainly healthy and strong animals with the best gene pool will reproduce.

Adult and healthy deer or roe deer are very difficult prey, because they are perfectly adapted to escape. The pursuit of these animals requires enormous amounts of energy from the wolf. Only one in ten wolf hunts for deer and one in five for deer is successful.

## Wolf protection. The Red Book

The wolf was included in both editions of the Polish Red Book of Animals and on the Red List of Endangered and Endangered Species in Poland, as well as on the Red List of Endangered Species in the Carpathians.

In accordance with the Act of April 16, 2004 on the protection of nature and the Regulation of the Minister of the Environment of December 16, 2016 on the protection of animal species, wolves are subject to strict protection. The Wolf is also protected by the Bern Convention.

It is forbidden to kill, maim, capture, keep, destroy burrows and select puppies from them, as well as store and sell skins and other fragments of dead individuals without proper permission.

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5. Attacks of wolves on people and farm animals

There are many myths around wolves, often spread by some hunters. One of these myths is that wolves attack livestock almost universally and thus pose a threat. Meanwhile, livestock account for only 1-3 percent. animals killed by wolves.

In 2018, compensation for wolf attacks on livestock amounted to PLN 1.1 million. For comparison, in the same year, compensation for damage caused by beavers amounted to PLN 25 million. On the other hand, PLN 91 million was paid for damages to agricultural crops caused by game animals (deer, roe deer and wild boar).

From the end of World War II until the wolf was put under protection, no cases of attacks by healthy wolves on humans were recorded in Poland. In 2018, there were two recorded cases of wolves biting people. In both cases, the animals were fed and partially tamed.

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