Home Newsletter 2011 The second year of Wolf Monitoring in the Tuscan-Emilian Appennine National Park

by Willy Reggioni

Similarly to what was carried out during the first year of the project, three techniques for monitoring the presence of wolves in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine National Park territory were integrated and applied during the second year as well: snow tracking, induced wolf howling and non-invasive genetic analysis.

Snow Tracking

For winter monitoring, three different sampling strategies were applied: intensive, extensive and on-the spot investigations obtained by satellite collars placed on the Wolf W1082M (Reno).

The results of the winter activity are synthesized in table 1.

Tab. 1- Sampling efforts and tracking sessions carried out during the second year of monitoring which include the data obtained by applying the technique in an intensive and extensive way and the on-the-spot investigations at the locations obtained by the satellite collar applied to Wolf W1082M. The stress in the outings on the locating of Wolf W1082M was not quantified as this was considered opportunistic. The data includes the monitoring activity carried out in the three areas: Tuscan-Emilian Apennine National Park, Orecchiella (LU) and the western part of the Parco del Frignano (MQ)

Wolf Howling

During the 2011 summer season, 2 sampling strategies were applied: opportunistic in the rendez-vous areas located the previous season (2010 summer season), and systematic survey (“saturation censusHarrington and Mech 1982) on the entire area being studied. On the whole, the surveys were realized during the period between 06/21/2011 and 09/15/2011 and 7 workers were involved in carrying out the activity in a continuous way.

Considering, as a whole, the different sampling strategies, 21 wolf responses were obtained, among which there were 9 with pups. Moreover, 2 spontaneous howls were heard.

Non-Invasive Genetic Analysis

During the second year of monitoring, a total of 179 fecal samplings, to be used for genetic analysis, were collected. The samplings were collected both on snow (n=25), and during field outings where the ground was not covered in snow (n=125).

Conclusions

Considering the data obtained by use of a number of monitoring methods such as snow tracking, non-invasive genetic analysis, wolf-howling and with the help, in some cases, of camera traps, it is estimated that 9 wolf family groups visit the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine National Park and surrounding areas. It can also be estimated that 26-35 individuals visited the area being studied during the second season of monitoring.

Considering a maximum of 36 individuals present, an “administrative” density of about 2.7 wolves per 100 square kilometres has been estimated in the territory being monitored (fig.2), which is about 1300 square kilometres.

Fig. 2. Scenario of the spatial occupation of the family groups which visit the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine National Park and surrounding areas. The entire area of reference stretches for about 1300 square kilometres, while each “circumference” stretches for 150 square kilometres, which corresponds to the average figure of wolf territories in Italy. This scenario was produced to furnish the monitoring staff with the relative layout of each territorial area. This is not, in fact, quantification relating to the territory of the packs, which can be determined exclusively with the application of collars on the individuals in the territory.