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Expedition report: Love / hate relationships: Monitoring the return of the wolf to the German state of Lower Saxony (June/July 2019)

Authors:
  • Thüringer Ministerium für Umwelt Energie und Naturschutz
  • Biosphere Expeditions

Abstract and Figures

ABSTRACT This report details wolf Canis lupus lupus active monitoring fieldwork by Biosphere Expeditions in collaboration with the State Wolf Bureau of the German state of Lower Saxony and local wolf commissioners. Field work was conducted from 6 to 19 July 2019 in two one-week long groups, each comprising twelve citizen scientists. The aim of the expedition was to collect samples for DNA and dietary analyses. This was done by sending small groups into the field to search for scat samples. 24 citizen scientists took part in the expedition, 18 from Germany or its immediate neighbour states (75%), three people from the United Kingdom (12.5%), two from North America (8.4%) and one person from China (4.1%). Before commencement of field work, which was exclusively conducted on public paths and bridleways, citizen scientists were trained for 1.5 days in sample detection, sampling and data collection techniques. The study area covered various priority areas in Lower Saxony as advised or requested by the State Wolf Bureau, wolf commissioners, hunters and the State Forestry Authority. Twenty-eight 10 km x10 km grid cells of the European Environment Agency (EEA) reference grid system and almost 750 km were surveyed on foot. Some grid cells were surveyed multiple times so that they were covered a total of 32 times. 241 wolf scat samples were identified during the field work, 157 of which were included into the official wolf monitoring programme. These 157 samples were frozen for dietary analysis and 28 of those were fresh enough for DNA analysis. A number of wolf tracks and possible wolf scats were also found, but did not pass quality assessment procedures directly after field work. Two teams actually saw wolves. The first sighting was two young wolves playing, and the other was an adult wolf on a forest trail only seen for a blink of an eye. Twenty-five (16%) of the 157 scat samples collected were classified as C1 pieces of hard evidence on the SCALP classification system, 32 (20%) as C2 confirmed observation and 100 (64%) as C3 unconfirmed observations. The two sightings were also recorded as a C3 piece of unconfirmed evidence. Dietary analysis is ongoing. The DNA analysis of 28 samples showed that 26 scats originated from wolf. 19 samples could be assigned to individual wolves. All in all, six male wolves and four female wolves were identified, of which two males and one female could be confirmed twice. Two other females could even be confirmed three times. For eight samples the species wolf, but no single individual, could be identified. Two male individuals were logged for the first time through the expedition. Just like the 2017 and 2018 expeditions, the quantity and quality of samples collected by the active monitoring effort of the 2019 expedition is remarkable. Official monitoring efforts in 2017/18 yielded 501 scat samples of which 218 (44%) samples came from the 2018 expedition. In 2019 this two-week long citizen science expedition with 156 collected scat samples contributed more than 20% of scats available from the official wolf monitoring efforts. The expedition also produced a quality percentage of 35% of C1 and C2 records, which is roughly the same as the 40% quality ratio of the official monitoring programme outside the expeditions. All of this shows again that with 1.5 days of training, contributions of citizen scientists towards wolf research and conservation can be both high quality and high quantity. ZUSAMMENFASSUNG Dieser Bericht beschreibt die Geländearbeit von Biosphere Expeditions im Rahmen eines aktiven Monitorings des großen Beutegreifers Wolf (Canis lupus lupus) in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Wolfsbüro des Landes Niedersachsen und einigen Wolfsberatern. Die Geländearbeit wurde vom 6. bis 19. Juli 2019 in zwei einwöchigen Gruppen mit je 12 Bürgerwissenschaftlern durchgeführt. Ziel war es, aufgeteilt in Kleingruppen, Wolfshinweise, insbesondere Losungen für DNA-Beprobung und Nahrungsanalysen, zu finden. An der Expedition nahmen 24 Bürgerwissenschaftler/innen teil, 18 davon kamen aus Deutschland oder seinen unmittelbaren Nachbarstaaten (75%), drei Personen aus Großbritannien (12,5%), zwei aus Nordamerika (8,4%) und eine Person aus China (4,1%). Vor Beginn der Geländearbeit, ausschließlich auf öffentlich begehbaren Wegen, wurden die Teilnehmer/innen 1,5 Tage im Erkennen von Wolfshinweisen, Probenahme und Datenerfassung im Gelände geschult. Das Untersuchungsgebiet umfasste verschiedene Gebiete in Niedersachsen, deren Auswahl in Zusammenarbeit mit dem staatlichen Wolfsbüro, örtlichen Wolfsberatern und Jägern sowie den Niedersächsichen Landesforsten geschah. Achtundzwanzig der 10 km x 10 km großen Rasterzellen des des EU-Gitternetzes und fast 750 km wurden zu Fuß abgesucht. Einige Gitterzellen wurden mehrfach begangen, so dass sie insgesamt 32 Mal abgedeckt wurden. Im Rahmen der Expedition konnten insgesamt 241 Wolfslosungen im Gelände identifiziert werden, von denen 157 Proben in das offizielle Wolfsmonitoring aufgenommen wurden. Diese 157 Proben wurden für Nahrungsanalyse eingefroren, 28 Proben davon waren geeignet für genetische Untersuchungen. Eine Reihe von Spuren und möglichen Wolfslosungen wurden ebenfalls gefunden, konnten aber aufgrund der strengen Datenqualitätsvorgaben nicht als Wolfshinweise genutzt werden. Zwei Teams sahen tatsächliche Wölfe. Bei der ersten Sichtung handelte es sich um zwei junge Wölfe, die spielten, und die der zweiten war ein erwachsener Wolf auf einem Waldweg nur für einen Augenblick sichtbar. Fünfundzwanzig (16%) der 157 gesammelten Losungsproben wurden im SCALP-Klassifizierungsverfahren als C1-Nachweis eingestuft, 32 (20%) als C2-bestätigte Hinweise und 100 (64%) als C3-unbestätigte Hinweise. Die beiden Sichtungen wurden als C3-unbestätigter Hinweis aufgenommen. Die Nahrungsanalyse der gesammelten Proben ist noch nicht abgeschlossen. Die genetischen Untersuchungen der 28 eingesendeten Proben ergab, dass 26 Losungen von Wölfen stammten. 19 dieser Proben konnten einzelnen Wölfen zugeordnet werden. Insgesamt wurden sechs männliche und vier weibliche Wölfe identifiziert, von denen zwei männliche und eine weibliche zweimal bestätigt werden konnten. Zwei weitere Fähen konnten sogar dreimal bestätigt werden. Für acht Proben konnte die Art Wolf, aber kein einzelnes Individuum identifiziert werden. Zwei Rüden konnten zum allerersten Mal im Rahmen dieser Expedition überhaupt identifiziert werden. Wie bereits im Rahmen der Expeditionen 2017 und 2018 ist die Anzahl und die Qualität der gesammelten Losungsproben, die durch dieses aktive Wolfsmonitoring der Expedition 2019 gesammelt wurden, bemerkenswert. Die offiziellen Monitoringbemühungen 2017/18 in Niedersachsen ergaben insgesamt 501 Losungsproben, von denen 218 (44%) Proben von unserer Expedition 2018 stammten. Im Jahr 2019 trug dieses zweiwöchige Bürgerwissenschaftlerprojekt mit 157 gesammelten Proben mehr als 20% zu den Loungsproben des offiziellen Monitorings bei. Die Geländearbeit trug einen Anteil von 35% der C1- und C2-Hinweisen bei, was ungefähr dem 40% Anteil des offiziellen Monitorings außerhalb der Expeditionen entspricht. All dies belegt wiederholt, dass Bürgerwissenschaftler mit eineinhalb Tagen Schulung einen quantitativ und qualitativ hochwertigen Beitrag zum Wolfsmonitoring leisten können.
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EXPEDITION REPORT
Expedition dates: 6 19 July 2019
Report published: July 2020
Love / hate relationships: Monitoring
the return of the wolf to the German
state of Lower Saxony
Picture courtesy of T. Berg
1
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Ireland, USA
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
EXPEDITION REPORT
Love / hate relationships: Monitoring the return of the
wolf to the German state of Lower Saxony
Expedition dates:
6 - 19 July 2019
Report published:
July 2020
Authors:
Peter Schütte
Wolf commissioner
Charlotte Steinberg
Wolf commissioner
Matthias Hammer (editor)
Biosphere Expeditions
2
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Ireland, USA
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
In memory of Wotsch
Ulrich Wotschikowsky
One of the first commentators
in Germany who understood the
value of citizen science expeditions
in wolf conservation and had the
courage to argue in their favour
in public
3
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Ireland, USA
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
ABSTRACT
This report details wolf Canis lupus lupus active monitoring fieldwork by Biosphere
Expeditions in collaboration with the State Wolf Bureau of the German state of Lower
Saxony and local wolf commissioners. Field work was conducted from 6 to 19 July 2019 in
two one-week long groups, each comprising twelve citizen scientists. The aim of the
expedition was to collect samples for DNA and dietary analyses. This was done by
sending small groups into the field to search for scat samples.
24 citizen scientists took part in the expedition, 18 from Germany or its immediate
neighbour states (75%), three people from the United Kingdom (12.5%), two from North
America (8.4%) and one person from China (4.1%). Before commencement of field work,
which was exclusively conducted on public paths and bridleways, citizen scientists were
trained for 1.5 days in sample detection, sampling and data collection techniques. The
study area covered various priority areas in Lower Saxony as advised or requested by the
State Wolf Bureau, wolf commissioners, hunters and the State Forestry Authority. Twenty-
eight 10 km x10 km grid cells of the European Environment Agency (EEA) reference grid
system and almost 750 km were surveyed on foot. Some grid cells were surveyed multiple
times so that they were covered a total of 32 times.
241 wolf scat samples were identified during the field work, 157 of which were included
into the official wolf monitoring programme. These 157 samples were frozen for dietary
analysis and 28 of those were fresh enough for DNA analysis. A number of wolf tracks and
possible wolf scats were also found, but did not pass quality assessment procedures
directly after field work. Two teams actually saw wolves. The first sighting was two young
wolves playing, and the other was an adult wolf on a forest trail only seen for a blink of an
eye.
Twenty-five (16%) of the 157 scat samples collected were classified as C1 pieces of hard
evidence on the SCALP classification system, 32 (20%) as C2 confirmed observation and
100 (64%) as C3 unconfirmed observations. The two sightings were also recorded as a
C3 piece of unconfirmed evidence. Dietary analysis is ongoing.
The DNA analysis of 28 samples showed that 26 scats originated from wolf. 19 samples
could be assigned to individual wolves. All in all, six male wolves and four female wolves
were identified, of which two males and one female could be confirmed twice. Two other
females could even be confirmed three times. For eight samples the species wolf, but no
single individual, could be identified. Two male individuals were logged for the first time
through the expedition.
Just like the 2017 and 2018 expeditions, the quantity and quality of samples collected by
the active monitoring effort of the 2019 expedition is remarkable. Official monitoring efforts
in 2017/18 yielded 501 scat samples of which 218 (44%) samples came from the 2018
expedition. In 2019 this two-week long citizen science expedition with 156 collected scat
samples contributed more than 20% of scats available from the official wolf monitoring
efforts. The expedition also produced a quality percentage of 35% of C1 and C2 records,
which is roughly the same as the 40% quality ratio of the official monitoring programme
outside the expeditions. All of this shows again that with 1.5 days of training, contributions
of citizen scientists towards wolf research and conservation can be both high quality and
high quantity.
4
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Ireland, USA
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
ZUSAMMENFASSUNG
Dieser Bericht beschreibt die Geländearbeit von Biosphere Expeditions im Rahmen eines aktiven
Monitorings des großen Beutegreifers Wolf (Canis lupus lupus) in Zusammenarbeit mit dem
Wolfsbüro des Landes Niedersachsen und einigen Wolfsberatern. Die Geländearbeit wurde vom 6.
bis 19. Juli 2019 in zwei einwöchigen Gruppen mit je 12 Bürgerwissenschaftlern durchgeführt. Ziel
war es, aufgeteilt in Kleingruppen, Wolfshinweise, insbesondere Losungen für DNA-Beprobung
und Nahrungsanalysen, zu finden.
An der Expedition nahmen 24 Bürgerwissenschaftler/innen teil, 18 davon kamen aus Deutschland
oder seinen unmittelbaren Nachbarstaaten (75%), drei Personen aus Großbritannien (12,5%),
zwei aus Nordamerika (8,4%) und eine Person aus China (4,1%). Vor Beginn der Geländearbeit,
ausschließlich auf öffentlich begehbaren Wegen, wurden die Teilnehmer/innen 1,5 Tage im
Erkennen von Wolfshinweisen, Probenahme und Datenerfassung im Gelände geschult. Das
Untersuchungsgebiet umfasste verschiedene Gebiete in Niedersachsen, deren Auswahl in
Zusammenarbeit mit dem staatlichen Wolfsbüro, örtlichen Wolfsberatern und Jägern sowie den
Niedersächsichen Landesforsten geschah. Achtundzwanzig der 10 km x 10 km großen
Rasterzellen des des EU-Gitternetzes und fast 750 km wurden zu Fuß abgesucht. Einige
Gitterzellen wurden mehrfach begangen, so dass sie insgesamt 32 Mal abgedeckt wurden.
Im Rahmen der Expedition konnten insgesamt 241 Wolfslosungen im Gelände identifiziert werden,
von denen 157 Proben in das offizielle Wolfsmonitoring aufgenommen wurden. Diese 157 Proben
wurden für Nahrungsanalyse eingefroren, 28 Proben davon waren geeignet für genetische
Untersuchungen. Eine Reihe von Spuren und möglichen Wolfslosungen wurden ebenfalls
gefunden, konnten aber aufgrund der strengen Datenqualitätsvorgaben nicht als Wolfshinweise
genutzt werden. Zwei Teams sahen tatsächliche Wölfe. Bei der ersten Sichtung handelte es sich
um zwei junge Wölfe, die spielten, und die der zweiten war ein erwachsener Wolf auf einem
Waldweg nur für einen Augenblick sichtbar.
Fünfundzwanzig (16%) der 157 gesammelten Losungsproben wurden im SCALP-
Klassifizierungsverfahren als C1-Nachweis eingestuft, 32 (20%) als C2-bestätigte Hinweise und
100 (64%) als C3-unbestätigte Hinweise. Die beiden Sichtungen wurden als C3-unbestätigter
Hinweis aufgenommen. Die Nahrungsanalyse der gesammelten Proben ist noch nicht
abgeschlossen.
Die genetischen Untersuchungen der 28 eingesendeten Proben ergab, dass 26 Losungen von
Wölfen stammten. 19 dieser Proben konnten einzelnen Wölfen zugeordnet werden. Insgesamt
wurden sechs männliche und vier weibliche Wölfe identifiziert, von denen zwei männliche und eine
weibliche zweimal bestätigt werden konnten. Zwei weitere Fähen konnten sogar dreimal bestätigt
werden. Für acht Proben konnte die Art Wolf, aber kein einzelnes Individuum identifiziert werden.
Zwei Rüden konnten zum allerersten Mal im Rahmen dieser Expedition überhaupt identifiziert
werden.
Wie bereits im Rahmen der Expeditionen 2017 und 2018 ist die Anzahl und die Qualität der
gesammelten Losungsproben, die durch dieses aktive Wolfsmonitoring der Expedition 2019
gesammelt wurden, bemerkenswert. Die offiziellen Monitoringbemühungen 2017/18 in
Niedersachsen ergaben insgesamt 501 Losungsproben, von denen 218 (44%) Proben von unserer
Expedition 2018 stammten. Im Jahr 2019 trug dieses zweiwöchige Bürgerwissenschaftlerprojekt
mit 157 gesammelten Proben mehr als 20% zu den Loungsproben des offiziellen Monitorings bei.
Die Geländearbeit trug einen Anteil von 35% der C1- und C2-Hinweisen bei, was ungefähr dem
40% Anteil des offiziellen Monitorings außerhalb der Expeditionen entspricht. All dies belegt
wiederholt, dass Bürgerwissenschaftler mit eineinhalb Tagen Schulung einen quantitativ und
qualitativ hochwertigen Beitrag zum Wolfsmonitoring leisten können.
5
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Ireland, USA
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Contents
Abstract
3
Zusammenfassung
4
Contents
5
1. Expedition review
6
1.1. Background & research area
6
1.2. Dates & team
6
1.3. Partners
7
1.4. Further information & enquiries
7
1.5. Acknowledgements
9
1.6. Expedition budget
8
2. Monitoring wolves in Lower Saxony
9
2.1. Introduction
9
2.2. Methods & results
16
2.3. Discussion & conclusions
24
2.4. Literature cited
30
Appendix I: Overview of temperature and rainfall values
32
Appendix II: Week-by-week survey results
33
Appendix III: Photo impressions
37
Appendix IV: Expedition diary and results
41
6
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Ireland, USA
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
1. Expedition review
M. Hammer (editor)
Biosphere Expeditions
1.1. Background & research area
Background information, location conditions and the research area are as per Schütte &
Hammer (2018) and Schütte & Hammer (2019). The aim of the expedition was to actively
monitor for wolf Canis lupus lupus and their signs such as scats and tracks so that wolf
ecology and population dynamics (wolf and pack numbers, group sizes, movements, diet)
can be elucidated to mitigate human-wolf conflict.
1.2. Dates & team
The project ran over a period of two weeks divided into two 7-day slots, each composed of
a team of national and international citizen scientists, wolf commissioners and other
helpers, and an expedition leader. Group dates were as shown in the team list below.
The expedition team was recruited by Biosphere Expeditions and consisted of a mixture of
ages, nationalities and backgrounds. They were (in alphabetical order and with country of
residence):
6 12 July 2019
Torsten Berg** (Germany), Jenny Day (USA), Sieglinde Dittmann (Germany), Sylvia
Dittman (Germany), Chris Edwards (Netherlands), Lynn Heffron (UK), Rose Lewis (UK),
Patricia Smith (Belgium), Christa Theunissen (Germany), Elaine Wilson** (UK), Luqing Yin
(China) and an anonymous participant from Germany.
13 19 July 2019
Andrea Ahrens (Germany), Rudolf Dinkelacker (Germany), Sieglinde Dittmann (Germany),
Sylvia Dittmann (Germany), Elisa Froese (Germany), Sigrun Kammans (Germany), Karin
Leineweber (Germany), Kelsey Lotz (USA), Zak Mather-Gratton* (Germany), Claude
Peffer (Luxembourg), Anna Urnova (Germany) and Veronika Yartseva (Germany) and an
anonymous participant from Germany.
*local placement | **press
In addition for some or all of the time: Theo Grüntjens, Kenny Kenner, Volker Einhorn and
Ulrike Kressel (wolf commissioners), Charlotte Steinberg (biologist, wolf commissioner and
report co-author) and Lea Wirk (of Wildlife Detection Dogs e.V.).
A medical umbrella, safety and evacuation procedures were in place, but did not have to
be invoked as there were no medical incidents.
In 2019, the expedition moved its base from NABU Gut Sunder to the nearby Herrenhaus
Gut Sunder.
7
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Ireland, USA
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
The expedition scientist was Peter Schütte who was born in Germany and studied
geography and geoinformatics at the Universities of Bremen (Germany), Gothenburg
(Sweden) and Salzburg (Austria). He has worked in this field for several international
mapping and remote sensing projects, one of which involved him in wildlife conservation in
Namibia, where he was a member of Biosphere Expeditions’ team of local scientists.
Starting in 2004, Peter led expeditions in Namibia/Caprivi, Altai, Oman and Slovakia for
Biosphere Expeditions. Working on projects involving cheetahs, leopards and lions in
Namibia for years, he gathered experience in the field of human-wildlife conflicts. Back in
his native Germany, Peter is now working to gain acceptance for the return of wolves to
the country. As one of more than hundred volunteer ‘wolf commissioners’ in Lower Saxony
he is involved in the official wolf monitoring. As a specialist Peter is working on human-
wildlife conflict solutions, such as livestock protection measures in his own project.
The expedition was led by Dr. Matthias Hammer, who founded Biosphere Expeditions in
1999. Born in Germany, he went to school there, before joining the Army, and serving for
several years amongst other units with the German Parachute Regiment. After active
service he came to the UK and was educated at St Andrews, Oxford and Cambridge.
During his time at university he either organised or was involved in the running of several
expeditions, some of which were conservation expeditions (for example to the Brazil
Amazon and Madagascar), whilst others were mountaineering/climbing expeditions (for
example to the Russian Caucasus, the Alps or the Rocky Mountains). With Biosphere
Expeditions he has led teams all over the globe. He is a qualified wilderness medical
officer, ski instructor, mountain leader, divemaster and survival skills instructor. Once a
rower on the international circuit, he is now an amateur marathon runner and Ironman
triathlete.
1.3. Partners
Biosphere Expeditions’ main partner on this expedition was the state’s environmental
authority the NLWKN (Niedersächsischer Landesbetrieb für Wasserwirtschaft, Küsten- und
Naturschutz, Nature = Lower Saxony Water Management, Coastal Defence and Nature
Conservation Agency), which is officially responsible for the monitoring of all wildlife in the
state. The authority’s Wolfsbüro (wolf bureau) staff were closely involved in all expedition
activities. Other partners included the Landesforsten (state forestry department), district
and communal authorities, BIO-Hotel Kenners LandLust, Wildlife Detection Dogs e.V.,
Wolfcenter Dörverden and Herrenhaus Gut Sunder.
1.4. Further information & enquiries
More background information on Biosphere Expeditions in general and on this expedition
in particular including pictures, diary excerpts and a copy of this report can be found on the
Biosphere Expeditions website www.biosphere-expeditions.org. Enquires should be
addressed to Biosphere Expeditions at the address given on the website.
8
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Ireland, USA
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
1.5. Acknowledgements
We are very grateful to all the expedition citizen scientsts, who not only dedicated their
spare time to helping but also, through their expedition contributions, funded the research.
Thank you also to those who brought their own cars and supported the expedition in this
way too. Thank you to all our partners mentioned above, especially those at the
‘Wolfsbüro’ at NLWKN and to all those professionals who provided assistance and
information. Special thanks also go to all of the wolf commissioners (Wolfsberater) and
helpers working on a voluntary basis in support of the expedition. Their efforts and local
knowledge were crucial to the success of our field work. Thanks also to the state forestry
department (Niedersächsische Landesforsten) for their co-operation. Furthermore a
special thank you to the WWF (World Wildlife Fund Germany), who kindly supported the
collaboration with Wildlife Detection Dogs e.V. Finally, thank you to the staff of Herrenhaus
Gut Sunder, led by Anja Rosenbrock, for being such excellent hosts and making us feel at
home, and to anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript.
1.6. Expedition budget
Each citizen scientist paid a contribution of €1,880 per person per seven-day period
towards expedition costs. The contribution covered accommodation and meals,
supervision and induction, special research equipment and all transport from and to the
team assembly point. It did not cover excess luggage charges, travel insurance, personal
expenses such as telephone bills, souvenirs etc., or visa and other travel expenses to and
from the assembly point (e.g. international flights). Details on how this contribution was
spent are given below.
Income
Expedition contributions
43,965
Expenditure
Expedition base
includes all food & services
10,717
Transport
includes hire cars, fuel, taxis in Germany
1,472
Equipment and hardware
includes research materials & gear etc. purchased internationally & locally
1,631
Staff
includes local and Biosphere Expeditions staff salaries and travel expenses
9,852
Administration
includes miscellaneous fees & sundries
1,623
Team recruitment Germany
as estimated % of annual PR costs for Biosphere Expeditions
4,981
Income Expenditure
13,690
Total percentage spent directly on project
69%
9
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Ireland, USA
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
2. Monitoring wolves in Lower Saxony
Peter Schütte
Wolf commissioner
Charlotte Steinberg
Wolf commissioner
Matthias Hammer (editor)
Biosphere Expeditions
2.1. Introduction
The expedition’s rationale, background, materials and methods, and training of citizen
scientists are described in Schütte & Hammer (2018) and Schütte & Hammer (2019).
Wolf territories and population dynamics in Lower Saxony in 2019/2020
At the end of the monitoring year 2018/19 there were 105 confirmed wolf packs in
Germany (DBBW 2020) (Figs. 2.1a & 2.1b).
In the federal state of Lower Saxony, prior to the 2019 expedition commencing, the
numbers of wolves were 20 wolf packs, two wolf pairs and four single wolves (March
2019). In June 2019, before the 2019 expedition started, numbers had increased to 22
wolf packs, four wolf pairs and two single wolves (LJN 2019a). In December 2019, after
the expedition in July, numbers increased to 23 wolf packs, six wolf pairs and one single
wolf (LJN 2019b, Fig. 2.1c). At the moment (May 2020), Lower Saxony hosts 24 wolf
packs, five wolf pairs and one single wolf (Fig 2.1a) (LJN 2020a). This development (Table
2.1) illustrates that Lower Saxony offers suitable habitats, which are still not fully occupied
by wolves.
Table 2.1. Wolf population dynamics in Lower Saxony March 2019 May 2020.
Time
Wolf packs
Wolf pairs
Single wolves
March 2019
20
2
4
June 2019
22
4
2
December 2019
23
6
1
February 2020
24
7
0
May 2020
24
5
1
Study site and 2019 focus areas
The study area in general is described in Schütte & Hammer (2018) and Schütte &
Hammer (2019). Focus areas of the 2019 expedition are shown in Figures 2.1e (CORINE)
and 2.1f (Google).
Focus areas were chosen in collaboration with local people (such as wolf commissioners,
foresters, hunters) and authorities, such as the Wolfsbüroat NLWKN (the wolf bureau at
the state environment department). Such collaborations, especially with the wolf
commissioners and the wolf bureau, are critical to the project’s success. An additional and
welcome side effect is that acceptance for the project, as well as citizen science projects in
general and in the field of wildlife monitoring and research, are fostered.
10
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Figure 2.1a.
Wolf territories in
Germany on 12
February 2020 (DBBW
2020).
Rudel (blue) = wolf pack
Paar (red) = wolf pair
Einzeltier (yellow) =
single individual
The text reads “105
packs, 27 pairs, 12
territorial individuals are
known, as well as 393
juveniles (10 packs
crossing state
boundaries). Territorial
wolves are present in
the states of Baden-
Wurttemberg, Bavaria,
Brandenburg,
Mecklenburg-
Vorpommern, Lower
Saxony, North Rhine-
Westphalia, Rhineland-
Palatinate, Saxony,
Saxony-Anhalt,
Schleswig-Holstein,
Thuringia”.
11
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Figure 2.1b. Distribution of wolves in Germany in 2018/2019 on the EEA grid system (BfN 2019).
Green cell = wolf presence confirmed in accordance with monitoring standards.
Green cell with black dot = wolf presence and reproduction confirmed.
12
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Figure 2.1c.
Wolf territories in Lower
Saxony after the fourth
quarter 2019 (LJN
2019b).
The reference reads:
Wolfsrudel (orange) =
wolf pack
Wolfsrudel (Nachweis
ausstehend)* (shaded
orange) = wolf pack (to
be confirmed)*
Wolfspaar (red) = wolf
pair
Residenter Einzelwolf
(green) = resident
individual
Unklar (gray) = unclear
Unter Beobachtung
(blue) = under
observation
*) To be confirmed =
pack existance through
evidence of
reproduction or more
than two pack members
has not yet been
confirmed in the current
monitoring season.
13
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Figure 2.1d.
Distribution of wolves in Lower
Saxony in 2018/2019 on the EEA
grid system (source).
14
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Figure 2.1e.
Land use cover in the
study site and focus
areas in 2019, map
adapted from CORINE.
15
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Figure 2.1f.
The 28 EEA grid cells covered
during the 2019 surveys
(indicated by pale shading).
16
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
2.2. Methods & results
The data gathered by this study form part of the official wolf monitoring programme of
Lower Saxony. All relevant data were integrated into the official database (LJN 2020b) and
as such were reviewed by the official wolf monitoring programme and assessed by SCALP
categories (see Schütte & Hammer (2018) and Schütte & Hammer (2019) for a description
of these). Since our data form part of the official wolf monitoring programme, they were
published in the official LJN annual monitoring reports 2017 and 2018.
Over two weeks (i.e. two groups) of surveying, participants walked 743 km, covering 28
cells of the EEA10 km x 10 km grid in total, some of them multiple times so that grid cells
were covered a total of 32 times (Fig. 2.1e, Table 2.2a).
Table 2.2a. Number of grid cells and length of routes surveyed by the 2019 expedition teams during the two expedition
weeks. Note that the team split into four or fewer groups each day.
Week
Grid cells
(N)
Routes
total (km)
Routes
day 2** (km)
Routes
day 3 (km)
Routes
day 4 (km)
Routes
day 5 (km)
Routes
day 6 (km)
1
15
356.37
7.80
85.70
80.62
81.61
100.64
2
17
387.10
25.40
101.80
104.20
97.00
58.70
Total
32*
743.47
*As all surveys took place within 28 grid cells, some grid cells were surveyed multiple times
** Day 2: training day, survey in one group
Scats, sightings and their SCALP status
The expedition found a total of 241 (putative) wolf scats in 24 EEA grid cells. 84 scats
were too old and/or rotten for any further analysis and discarded. 156 were admitted for
SCALP assessment. These 157 samples were frozen for dietary analysis and sent to the
laboratory at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover (UVMH) Foundation (Institute
for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research) and LJN for analysis of wolf diet. 27 of the
156 samples were fresh enough (less than 48 hours old) to yield material for DNA
analysis, so a small sample of these 28 scats was put in ethanol and sent to the Research
Institute Senckenberg for genetic analysis & SCALP assessment (Fig. 2.2a & Table 2.2b).
Two genetics samples were taken from one of these 28 scat samples, because it was not
clear whether it was a single or two scats.
Samples shown to be from wolf by genetic analysis were scored as a C1 piece of hard
evidence. Samples with typical content such as bones, hair and teeth, as well as the right
size and location in which they were found so that there was a high probablility that they
originated from a wolf, were scored C2 confirmed sign. Old, rotten or bleached samples,
which in appearance were likely to be from wolf were scored C3 (or C3a for those which
were very likely to be from wolf). In addition to these data, two incidences of a wolf sighting
during the expedition were recorded. 95 and 61 scat samples were collected during weeks
1 and 2 respectively and one was found during a pre-expedition survey by staff.
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Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Table 2.2b. Samples gathered by the expedition and submitted for analysis.
Scat samples
total
Scat samples for
diet analysis
Scat samples for
genetic analysis
Wolf
sightings
Pre expedition
1
1
1
0
Week 1
151
95
18
2
Week 2
89
61
9
0
Total
241
7
8
2
In total, 25 (16%) of the 156 samples collected were classified as C1 pieces of hard
evidence, 32 (20%) as C2 confirmed observations and 100 (64%) as C3 unconfirmed
observations (Fig. 2.2a), of which 89 (57% of the total) were scored as C3a (very likely to
originate from wolf). For two samples no DNA could be identified.
Figure 2.2a. The 156 scat samples collected by the expedition by their SCALP classification.
On two occasions, two expedition participants each had a direct sighting of the target
species. The first encounter was one wolf at approximately 200 metres distance. During
the second encounter two wolves were spotted in a forest clearing at about 200 metres
distance. Both sightings were classified as a C3 unconfirmed observation, as there was no
photo or video taken (because the encounters came as a surprise and only lasted a few
seconds).
18
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Figure 2.2b. 24 EEA grid cells in which wolf scat samples were collected.
19
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
In week 1 and pre-expedition, 20 scat samples were scored as C1, 23 as C2, five as C3
and 48 as C3a. In week 2, five scat samples were scored as C1, nine C2, six as C3 and
41 as C3a (Fig. 2.2c).
Figure 2.2c. The 156 scat samples collected by the expedition by their SCALP classification.
Food analysis
The 2019 expedition submitted 156 scat samples for wolf food spectrum analyses to the
University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover (this compares to 200 scats for the 2018 and
75 scats for the 2017 expedition). The analyses of the 2018 and 2019 scat samples are
still ongoing and the aim is to publish results in the 2020 abridged (because of the
coronavirus pandemic) expedition report. As reported in the 2017 expedition report
(Schütte and Hammer 2018), the most frequent prey in the 2017 scat samples were roe
deer (30%) and wild boar (29%), followed by red deer (18%), fallow deer (8%) and a
general deer species category (8%) for deer remains that could not be identified down to
species level. No livestock remains were found in them.
Genetics
28 scat samples were sent for DNA analysis of which 26 originated from wolves (Table
2.2c). It was not possible to determine the originating species for the remaining two
samples, because the sample quality was too poor (too old, too wet) and therefore DNA
could not be extracted. 20 samples could be assigned to individual known wolves through
comparison of existing DNA material. Some individuals were confirmed twice or more. All
in all, six male wolves and four female wolves were identified, of which two males and one
female could be confirmed twice. Two other females could even be confirmed three times
(Table 2.2d). For eight samples the species wolf, but no single individual, could be
identified. Two male individuals were logged for the first time through the expedition.
20
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Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Table 2.2c. Results of genetic analyses.
DNA
wolf
DNA
no wolf
Species not
determinable
Total DNA
samples
Pre-expedition
1
0
0
1
Week 1
20
0
1
20
Week 2
5
0
1
6
Total
26
0
2
28
Table 2.2d. DNA samples that could be assigned to individual wolves in 2019.
No.
Individual ID*
Gender
Territory
Sampled in week
(times)
1
GW1027m
male
Ebstorf
1 (2x)
2
GW1320f
female
Ebstorf
1 (2x)
3
GW1429m
male
Schneverdingen
1
4
GW1430m
male
Göhrde
1
5
GW191f
female
Walle?
1,2 (3x)
6
GW359f
female
Ebstorf
1, 2 (3x)
7
GW472f
female
Schneverdingen
1
8
GW825m
male
Amt Neuhaus
1
9
GW906m
male
Walle?
1,2 (2x)
10
GW911m
male
Walle?
2
*wolf ID assigned by the Forschungsinstitut Seckenberg, the reference institute for wolf genetics in Germany.
The “G” stands for “genetic code”, the “W” for the species “wolf”, the “m” respectively “f” indicate the sex.
21
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Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
GW1027
This male wolf was confirmed in the Munster area in late June 2018. Its origin pack is the
Munster pack. This wolf was then identified in Amt Neuhaus by the 2018 expedition,
suggesting that it was a transient wolf on the move. This assumption was corroborated by
the 2019 expedition, when this individual was confirmed in another area again, near
Ebstorf. Additional samples from 2020 revealed that GW1027m had actually settled in the
Ebstorf area and had become the new male wolf of the Ebstorf pack.
GW1320f
This female wolf is a descendant of the Ebstorf pack and was first identified in February
2019, five month before the expedition. Its father is not GW1027m, but the former male
wolf of the Ebstorf pack GW832m.
GW1429m: This male wolf was identified with the help of the expedition participants. It is a
descendant of the Schneverdingen pack in the Luneburg Heath.
GW1430m
The existence of this male wolf was also proven for the first time by the expedition. It is a
descendant of the Göhrde pack in the eastern part of Lower Saxony, where expedition
partner Kenny Kenner works as a wolf commissioner.
GW191f
This female wolf is one of the founders of the Lower Saxony wolf population, originating
from a pack in Saxony. It was first recorded during the 2013/2014 monitoring year,
together with its brother GW188m. The latter was found dead on 30 October 2019 near
Dörverden, far from the Bergen territory. The GW191f samples were found in the very
southern part of the Bergen territory, suggesting that the territory might have shifted. More
genetic information is needed fully to understand the new structure of territorial wolves in
that area.
GW359f
This wolf is the female of the Ebstorf pack and a descendant of the Rheinmetall pack.
GW472f
This is the female wolf of the Schneverdingen pack, mother of GW1429m and descendant
of the Gartow pack.
GW825m
This is the male of the Amt Neuhaus pack and was also identified through the expedition
in 2017. Its origin pack as well as that of its female partner are unknown.
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Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
GW906m
This male wolf is a descendant of the Wietzendorf wolf pack and was first identified in
2017. The sample was collected near Walle, where a confirmed wolf pack is located.
However, it is unclear which pack this wolf belongs to.
GW911m
This wolf is the male of the Walle pack and was first identified in October 2017. It migrated
to Lower Saxony from the federal state of Brandenburg.
Other possible wolf signs
During the expedition, other possible signs of wolf presence were recorded, but did not
pass quality assessment procedures and as such were not submitted to official records.
Instead they serve as hints for upcoming investigations and expeditions. Of this type of
signs, one track (conditions or measurements for rating not met) and 84 scats (too old, not
clear, no wolf-like smell) were recorded (Fig. 2.2d).
Scent dogs
Wildlife Detection Dogs e.V. kindly supported the expedition with one scent dog
accompanying a group for a full survey day each day. The dog is trained to find and
indicate wolf scats by sitting down next to them. This method piggybacks on the dogs’
great olfaction and represents a great help for the monitoring of elusive animal species
whose presence is mostly proven through indirect hints. Scat collection can be conducted
much more effectively with a “helping nose” as there are scats that are too rotten or
covered so that even experienced human eyes can not find them. The expedition
participants were very interested to see the detection dog working and were exited and
fascinating seeing “Molly” cooperating with her owner and indicating the first wolf scat at
the beginning of the expedition. A total of 30 wolf scats were found by groups with dog
assistance. Four of them would not have been found without a scent dog. Surveys with
dog assistance took place primarily in areas with little knowledge about wolf presence in
order to investigate new and univestigated areas.
Direct sightings
There were two wolf sightings during the expedition. Two participants observed two pups
in the Goehrde. Another participant and one of the wolf commissioners spotted an adult
individual in the Süsing forest area. Two other participants were very close and missed the
wolf by just a minute. The two encounters were scored as C3 unconfirmed hints as there
were no photos or videos taken of the observations the sightings came as a surprise and
only lasted a few seconds. As wolves tend to avoid direct human contact, sightings are
relatively rare and are not encouraged or promoted by the expedition.
23
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Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Figure 2.2d. Possible wolf signs (tracks, old scats) recorded during the 2019 expedition in 24 EEA grid cells.
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Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
2.3. Discussion & conclusions
Efficiency of effort data quantity and quality
The total number of 157 scat samples, collected by the expedition over only two weeks in
2019 (during which 743 km were walked) to assist official wolf monitoring efforts, is an
outstanding result. For comparison, the official wolf monitoring programme recorded a total
of 261 C1 and C2 scat samples (503 including C3) in the entire year of 2019 (without the
scats that were sampled by the expedition) (LJN 2019a,b,c,d). Therefore, the work of the
participants of the expedition in 2019 has made a very significant contribution to wolf
monitoring efforts in Lower Saxony in terms of quantity.
In terms of quality, the work of the citizen scientists was excellent too. The amount of C1
and C2 scats collected by the expedition was 36% in 2019, 37% in 2018 and 54% in 2017.
The same number of the official wolf monitoring programme in the whole year of 2019 is
59% (LJN 2019a,b,c,d). C3 and C3a scat samples were also collected and sent to the
laboratory due to the demand for samples for the analysis of the food spectrum of wolves
in Lower Saxony.
All this shows that with a day and a half of training, citizen scientists can make high quality
and high quantity contributions.
Areas of wolf activity
The 2019 expedition focused on collecting wolf scat samples for identification of individual
wolves via DNA and for dietary analyses. The number of scat samples found in the survey
areas allowed the expedition to identify one area of high wolf activity in the district of
Luechow-Dannenberg. 51 (32%) of the 157 scat samples were collected here (Figs. 2.3a
& b). All the other survey areas (the districts of Celle, Uelzen, Harburg/Heidekreis,
Lueneburg and Hannover) reach from 8% to 12% of all scat records (Figs. 2.3a & b).
The key factor for successful surveys is the availability of information about the wolf
territories in the areas surveyed. A targetted and therefore highly successful search for
wolf signs, such as demonstrated by this expedition, is only possible through good
information flow between the expedition and local stakeholders with detailed knowledge of
wildlife and wilderness, such as the local wolf commissioners, foresters and hunters.
25
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Figure 2.3a. Area of high wolf activity (red circle) identified by the 2019 expedition.
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Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Figure 2.3b. Scat samples (n = 156) by area collected by the 2019 expedition.
Wolf population dynamics
A total of ten individual wolves were identified via DNA samples collected by the expedition
in 2019 (also ten in 2018, six in 2017), three of them twice, namely GW1027m, GW1320f
and GW906m, two others three times, namely GW191f and GW359f. Two wolves were
genetically identified for the first time through samples collected by the expedition:
GW1429m a descendant of the Schneverdingen pack and GW1430m, a descendent of the
Goehrde area pack. In addition by identifying GW1027m (Munster/Bispingen), GW191f
(Bergen) and GW906m (Wietzendorf) insights into the movement ranges of wolves could
be gained.
Thus far there has been no more genetic proof of other animals. GW1027m, originating in
Munster, sampled in Amt Neuhaus during the expedition in 2018 and in the Ebstorf region
in 2019, demonstrates the migration of (young) wolves through other territories in search
of their own. Exact information about territory borders, kinship and offspring or migration
routes can only be gleaned partially by the official wolf monitoring programme. For a
comprehensive picture, there is simply not enough information in the form of DNA
samples. In other words, despite considerable efforts, not least of the expedition, many
more samples and a well-planned active monitoring effort are necessary.
For the monitoring year 2018/19 reproduction was detected in 95% of all wolf packs in
Germany (DBBW 2019). This means that an increase in the wolf population is highly likely
and that more territories will be occupied throughout the country, Lower Saxony included.
Active monitoring remains essential to track those changes, as well as shifts of territories
or territory borders and changes in pack composition (which become increasingly difficult
to track with increasing density of territories).
27
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Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Over 743 km of survey effort, two wolf encounters were registered by the expedition in
2019 (2018: one encounter over 750 km, 2017: zero encounters over 1,100 km). From this
it is clear that the chances of encountering a wolf during daytime, even when looking for
wolf signs in suitable habitat, are very small. Reports in the media and by anti-wolf
campaigners of the state being “overrun” by wolves are therefore clearly exaggerated.
Wolf feeding ecology
Results of the analysis of wolf scats are based on prey remains. They do not represent the
food spectrum of wolves in general, but give indications about the food items of wolves, as
well as information about more and less important prey species. Based on scat analysis,
statements about the acquistion process of food items are not possible they may have
been either actively hunted or ingested as carrion.
The investigation of the 45 scats sampled during the expedition in 2017 indicated that wild
ungulates (mainly roe deer, wild boar and red deer) represent the food base of wolves in
Lower Saxony. It was significant that no remains of livestock were found. This
corrobarates previous studies, which showed that the proportion of livestock in the wolf’s
diet is very low or absent altogether (DBBW 2018). This may vary regionally, depending on
the availability of wildlife prey and insufficiently protected livestock - wolves attack, kill and
consume livestock. Even if livestock might be underrepresented in scat samples to a
certain degree as livestock owners are legally obliged to remove carcasses from their
meadows, the data collected by the expedition in 2017 strongly suggests that, in general,
its consumption is rare compared to the consumption of wild ungulates. The analysis of
scats collected in 2018 and 2019 is expected to shed more light on this, in particular
whether this pattern repeats itself.
Local stakeholder and cooperations
Our main aim was to collect indirect wolf signs, with an emphasis on finding scat samples
in order to assist official wolf monitoring efforts and supplement the wolf monitoring
database. This aim was achieved. In addition, data collected by the expedition also
allowed important conclusions to be drawn about some of the wolf territories and newly
identified individual wolves. We conducted the 2019 surveys by and large in areas with
similar or the same survey routes as in the previous year (Schütte and Hammer 2019). But
new areas were added too. Thanks to the noteable and much welcomed cooperation of
local stakeholders such as wolf commissioners first and foremost, but also hunters and
foresters, study areas could be selected with a high degree of specficity, so that a high
number of usable scat samples could be collected. This is also the main reason why the
inaugural 2017 expedition collected only 76 scats with four groups (Schütte and Hammer
2018), whereas the 2018 expedition collected 218 scats with two groups and the 2019
expedition 156 scats, also with two groups.
28
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Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
In addition, and thanks to the cooperation of the State Forestry Department
(Niedersächsische Landesforsten), new areas were included in our monitoring activities
and in some areas we were asked by the State Forestry Department to conduct surveys.
This is in marked contrast to the State Forestry Department’s conduct during the
expedition’s inaugural year of 2017, when the State Forestry Department forbade the
expedition to enter certain areas due to smear and misinformation campaigns by anti-wolf
elements amongst the hunting community and/or political class (see Schütte and Hammer
2019 for details). The expedition appreciates the trust and cooperation now shown by the
State Forestry Department.
It is also worth noting that hostility towards the expedition shown in 2017 (Schütte and
Hammer 2018) and less so in 2018 (Schütte and Hammer 2019) by the media and the
anti-wolf lobby has ebbed away. It is unknown whether this is because it has been
accepted that the expedition’s efforts are worthwhile or whether other targets have been
found.
Summary
The wolf has returned to Germany to stay. Those who do not like this and employ
misinformation, populism and demagogy to incite conflict and highly emotional, politically
charged and irrational arguments against wolves must be countered each time with calm,
factual and science-based discourse. Those who are exposed to real risks through wolves,
namely livestock owners, should be listened to, supported and compensated as
necessary, ideally through an effective, unbureaucractic and nationwide support and
advice system.
We believe that a system of regionally active, trained professionals is needed, who can
respond to questions about and issues around wolves directly, unbureaucratically and
competently, and act close to the ground and in close cooperation with the local population
and stakeholders. So far the federal and state goverments, as well as agricultural and
veterinarian bodies, have failed to create appropriate structures, which are necessary
when a large carnivore returns to a cultural landscape.
In addition, we believe that more must be done to stop illegal wolf killings. The records of
wolves found dead, taken since 2003, show that illegal killing of this protected species (a
criminal offence in Germany) is the second most common form of death (12%) after traffic
accidents (77%); the remaining 11% are due to diseases or other reasons (NLWKN 2019).
A particularly sad example of an illegal killing is male wolf GW1039m, whose existence
was shown by the expedition in 2018, only to be found shot dead shortly after the
expedition in August 2018. Presumably there is a high percentage of unreported killings.
Here, the investigative authorities and courts must work harder to stop this and prosecute
perpetrators, as for example in the neighbouring federal state of Saxony-Anhalt.
Whilst there are challenges that come with wolf presence, there are opportunities too. The
wolf hunts and anti-wolf headlines seem to have been largely ignored so far. We see the
biggest potential in rural communities generating income through tourism based on nature
and wolf presence. Furthermore, wolf presence can contribute to the regulation of
browsing by large wild herbivores and thus be supportive to regeneration of forests
CHWOLF 2020).
29
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Next to large-scale, national issues, this project on a Lower Saxony state and regional
scale, and in close collaboration with the State Wolf Bureau, not only reached its goals, it
exceeded, now also in its third year, all expectations. It is clear that the efforts of well-
trained citizen scientists deployed as part of a well-planned fieldwork expedition can be
very productive and that highly valuable data can be acquired through targeted active wolf
monitoring work conducted by citizen scientists. This refutes those who doubted that
citizen science could make a useful contribution. This doubt was especially prevalent
amongst hunters, hunting associations and some forestry officials and landowners before
and during the inaugural 2017 expedition, but has changed in some quarters after the
results of the 2017 expedition were published.
For example, the State Forestry Department now supports the expedition and it is hoped
that the results presented here will encourage others too to give up their negative and non-
collaborative stance, as well as their publicly voiced populist prejudices based on
erroneous assumptions and assertions. The authors are, and always have been, ready to
collaborate in the spirit of successful wolf conservation and wolf-human co-existence in
Lower Saxony.
Recommendations for future expeditions
The coronavirus pandemic has made a citizen science expedition in 2020 impossible.
Instead, a community expedition with local staff only is being planned at the time of writing
to ensure that monitoring and conservation efforts are continued. The community
expedition will also produce an abridged report, which will include dietary analysis.
As soon as possible, the citizen science expeditions should be repeated on an annual
basis and they should:
Adapt/improve methods and logistics as necessary, based on an annual review of
activities.
Establish camera trapping efforts wherever possible within the limitations of privacy
and property laws.
Find funding to extend the use of scent dogs during the expedition to establish and
promote their effectiveness for wolf monitoring purposes.
Find possibilities to test methods such as video scats (Canu et al. 2017).
Gain support from more wolf commissioners and district nature conservation
authorities for active monitoring in areas of specific interest.
Improve communications with stakeholders:
Repeat offers to stakeholders, such as hunting associations and forestry
departments, to use/involve/allow the efforts of Biosphere Expeditions, e.g. camera
trapping and sign surveys.
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© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Involve local, national and international citizen scientists:
Seek grant and other support, or fund internally, free placements for local people on
the expedition.
Work with the media to encourage more local participation.
2.4. Literature cited
BfN - Bundesamt für Naturschutz 2019, Aktuelle Zahlen: 105 Wolfsrudel in Deutschland.
Available from https://www.dbb-wolf.de/Wolfsvorkommen/besetzte-Rasterzellen [accessed
29 March 2020].
Canu, A., Mattioli, L. Santini, A., Apollonio, M., Scandura, M. 2017, ‘Video-scats’:
combining camera trapping and non-invasive genotyping to assess individual identity and
hybrid status in gray wolf. Wildlife Biology (10) Published by Nordic Board for Wildlife
Research. Available from: https://doi.org/10.2981/wlb.00355 [acessed 24 February 2020].
CHWOLF 2020 - Der Wolf als Teil des Ökosystems. Available from
https://chwolf.org/woelfe-kennenlernen/oekosystem/wolf-als-teil-des-oekosystems
[acessed 01 July 2020].
CORINE - Project "Coordination of Information on the Environment" (CLC) der
Europäischen Union. Available from: https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/COR0-
landcover [accessed 01 July 2020]
DBBW - Dokumentations- und Beratungsstelle des Bundes zum Thema Wolf 2018, Porträt
des europäischen Wolfes. Available from: https://www.dbb-wolf.de/Wolf_Steckbrief/portrait
[accessed 31 January 2020].
DBBW - Dokumentations- und Beratungsstelle des Bundes zum Thema Wolf 2019,
Wölfe in Deutschland - Statusbericht 2018/2019. Available from
https://www.dbb-wolf.de/mehr/literatur-download/statusberichte [acessed 01 July 2020].
DBBW - Dokumentations- und Beratungsstelle des Bundes zum Thema Wolf 2020,
Wolfsvorkommen, available from: https://www.dbb-
wolf.de/Wolfsvorkommen/territorien/karte-der-territorien [acessed 29 March 2020].
LJN - Landesjägerschaft Niedersachsen 2019a, Wölfe in Niedersachsen. Berichte der
Landesjägerschaft Niedersachsen e.V. zum Wolfs-Monitoring in 2019. Kalenderjahr 2019.
II. Quartal 2019. Available from:
https://www.wolfsmonitoring.com/fileadmin/dateien/wolfsmonitoring.com/pdfs/2019_II_Qua
rtalsbericht_Wolfsmonitoring.pdf [acessed 18 February 2020].
LJN - Landesjägerschaft Niedersachsen 2019b, Wölfe in Niedersachsen. Berichte der
Landesjägerschaft Niedersachsen e.V. zum Wolfs-Monitoring in 2019. Kalenderjahr 2019.
IV. Quartal 2019. Available from:
https://www.wolfsmonitoring.com/fileadmin/dateien/wolfsmonitoring.com/pdfs/2019_IV_Qu
artalsbericht_Wolfsmonitoring.pdf [acessed 18 February 2020].LJN - Landesjägerschaft
31
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Niedersachsen 2019c, Wölfe in Niedersachsen. Berichte der Landesjägerschaft
Niedersachsen e.V. zum Wolfs-Monitoring in 2019. Kalenderjahr 2019. I. Quartal 2019.
Available from:
https://www.wolfsmonitoring.com/fileadmin/dateien/wolfsmonitoring.com/pdfs/2019_I_Quar
talsbericht_Wolfsmonitoring.pdf [acessed 18 February 2020].
LJN - Landesjägerschaft Niedersachsen 2019d, Wölfe in Niedersachsen. Berichte der
Landesjägerschaft Niedersachsen e.V. zum Wolfs-Monitoring in 2019. Kalenderjahr 2019.
III. Quartal 2019. Available from:
https://www.wolfsmonitoring.com/fileadmin/dateien/wolfsmonitoring.com/pdfs/2019_III_Qu
artalsbericht_Wolfsmonitoring.pdf [acessed 18 February 2020].
LJN - Landesjägerschaft Niedersachsen 2020a, Wolfsmonitoring in Niedersachsen.
Wolfsterritorien. Available from:
https://www.wolfsmonitoring.com/monitoring/wolfsterritorien/ [acessed 02 February 2020].
LJN - Landesjägerschaft Niedersachsen 2020b, Wolfsmeldungen. Available from:
https://meldungen.wolfsmonitoring.com/web/login [acessed 02 February 2020].
NLWKN - Niedersächsischer Landesbetrieb für Wasserwirtschaft, Küsten-, und
Naturschutz 2019, Tote Wölfe in Niedersachsen. Available from:
https://www.nlwkn.niedersachsen.de/naturschutz/wolfsbuero/totfunde/tote-woelfe-in-
niedersachsen-142406.html [acessed 25 February 2020].
Schütte, P. and Hammer, M. 2018, Love / hate relationships: Monitoring the return of the
wolf to the German state of Lower Saxony. Expedition report 2017, published in June
2018. Available from: https://www.biosphere-
expeditions.org/images/stories/pdfs/reports/report-germany17.pdf [acessed 24 February
2020].
Schütte, P. and Hammer, M. 2019, Love / hate relationships: Monitoring the return of the
wolf to the German state of Lower Saxony. Expedition report 2018, published in May 2019.
Available from: https://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/images/stories/pdfs/reports/report-
germany18.pdf [acessed 24 February 2020].
32
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Appendix I: Overview of temperature and rainfall values at Gut Sunder during the
expedition (own records of author P. Schütte)
Date
°C at 07:00
°C at 17:00
Rainfall (mm)
07:00 / 16:00
07 July 2019
09
17
2.0 / 0
08 July 2019
09
17
0 / 0
09 July 2019
10
17
0 / 0
10 July 2019
12
19
0 / 0
11 July 2019
12
21
1.1 / 0
14 July 2019
14
15
9.0 / 0
15 July 2019
12
15
0 / 0
16 July 2019
12
17
0 / 0
17 July 2019
12
20
0 / 0
18 July 2019
13
22
0 / 0
33
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Appendix II: Week-by-week survey results
Effort & results week 1
Survey days
5
EEA 10x10 km grid cells covered
17
Scats found / in EEA cells
151 / 15
Day
Distance covered by teams (km)
Remarks
Sun, 07 July
7.8
One training group only
Mon, 08 July
85.7
Maximum four small groups
Tue, 09 July
80.62
Maximum four small groups
Wed, 10 July
81.61
Maximum four small groups
Thu, 11 July
100.64
Maximum four small groups
Total
356.37
Figure IIa. 17 EEA grid cells covered during week 1 of the 2019 expedition (indicated as pale shading).
34
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Fig IIb. 15 EEA grid cells in which wolf scat samples were collected during week 1 of the 2019 expedition.
35
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Fig. IIc. Possible wolf signs (tracks, old scats) recorded during week 1 of the 2019 expedition in 15 EEA grid cells.
Effort & results week 2
Survey days
5
EEA 10x10 km grid cells covered
23
Scats found / in EEA cells
88 /17
Day
Distance covered by teams (km)
Remarks
Sun, 14 July
25.4
One training group only
Mon, 15 July
101.8
Maximum four small groups
Tue, 16 July
104.2
Maximum four small groups
Wed, 17 July
97.0
Maximum four small groups
Thu, 18 July
58.7
Maximum four small groups
Total
387.1
36
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Figure IId. 23 EEA grid cells covered during week 2 of the 2019 expedition (indicated as pale shading).
Fig IIe. 17 EEA grid cells in which wolf scat samples were collected druing week 2 of the 2019 expedition.
37
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Fig. IIf. Possible wolf signs (tracks, old scats) recorded during week 2 of the 2019 expedition in 17 EEA grid cells
38
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
nternational Union for the
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Appendix III: Photo impressions
Figure IIIa. Briefing of expedition team as part of training on day one.
Figure IIIb. Expedition research equipment ready for use.
39
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
nternational Union for the
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Figure IIIc. First survey in one group as part of training on day one.
Figure IIId. Wolf track.
40
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
nternational Union for the
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Figure IIIe. Scat collection kit with finding.
Figure IIIf. Breakfast in the Herrenhaus expedition base, with Herrenhaus staff in the background.
41
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
nternational Union for the
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Figure IIIg. After a long survey (from left Lea Wirk of Wildlife Detection Dogs e.V.,
citizen scientist Luqing Yin and wildlife detection dog Molly).
Figure IIIh. Overnight camp Dübbekold.
42
© Biosphere Expeditions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany,
nternational Union for the
Conservation of Nature and the European Citizen Science Association.
Appendix IV: Expedition diary and reports
A multimedia expedition diary is available on https://blog.biosphere-
expeditions.org/category/expedition-blogs/germany-2019/.
All expedition reports, including this and previous expedition reports,
are available on www.biosphere-expeditions.org/reports.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
Motion-activated video cameras and non-invasive genetic sampling are tools commonly used to obtain relevant information on wild populations of rare or elusive carnivores while minimizing disturbance. The two approaches are usually implemented separately, but they are occasionally integrated at a population level, mostly in order to estimate population size. Here we show the advantages of combining camera trapping and non-invasive genotyping at an individual level, in a monitored Italian wolf population affected by introgression from domestic dogs. After 24 defecation events recorded by camera traps located at marking sites, samples (‘video-scats’) were collected in order to determine the individuals’ identity based on the analysis of sex markers, 11 autosomal microsatellites, two Y-chromosome microsatellites and the control region of the mitochondrial DNA. Genetic data for 19 successfully genotyped scat samples were combined with morphological and behavioural traits observed in the videos and compared to data from ongoing genetic monitoring, all of which enabled us to determine sex, pack membership, breeding status, morphological traits (including those used to assess hybridization), sampling history, and introgression level of each individual. Finally we discuss the advantages and possible drawbacks of ‘video-scats’, supporting their use as an opportunistic source of valuable data.
Coordination of Information on the Environment" (CLC) der Europäischen Union
  • Corine -Project
CORINE -Project "Coordination of Information on the Environment" (CLC) der Europäischen Union. Available from: https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/COR0-landcover [accessed 01 July 2020]
  • Ljn -Landesjägerschaft
LJN -Landesjägerschaft Niedersachsen 2020a, Wolfsmonitoring in Niedersachsen. Wolfsterritorien. Available from: https://www.wolfsmonitoring.com/monitoring/wolfsterritorien/ [acessed 02 February 2020].
Tote Wölfe in Niedersachsen
  • Nlwkn -Niedersächsischer Landesbetrieb Für Wasserwirtschaft
  • Küsten
  • Naturschutz Und
NLWKN -Niedersächsischer Landesbetrieb für Wasserwirtschaft, Küsten-, und Naturschutz 2019, Tote Wölfe in Niedersachsen. Available from: https://www.nlwkn.niedersachsen.de/naturschutz/wolfsbuero/totfunde/tote-woelfe-inniedersachsen-142406.html [acessed 25 February 2020].
Love / hate relationships: Monitoring the return of the wolf to the German state of Lower Saxony
  • P Schütte
  • M Hammer
Schütte, P. and Hammer, M. 2019, Love / hate relationships: Monitoring the return of the wolf to the German state of Lower Saxony. Expedition report 2018, published in May 2019. Available from: https://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/images/stories/pdfs/reports/report-germany18.pdf [acessed 24 February 2020].