News"Wolves are not stuffed animals": How to behave properly...

"Wolves are not stuffed animals": How to behave properly in an encounter

Created: 10/17/2022 11:13 am

Again and again wolves are sighted in Germany, which come too close to humans. That can be dangerous – but man is much more dangerous for the wolf.

Stuttgart – For around 150 years, the wolf was considered extinct in Germany. That changed in the year 2000: At that time the first wolf cubs were born in the wild – according to the Naturschutzbund Deutschland eV on a military training area in the Saxon Oberlausitz. Since then, the wolf has been spreading again in Germany and manages to raise offspring year after year. A success from the point of view of nature conservation – but there are also cases in which the wolf comes dangerously close to humans.

For example “Kurti”, Germany’s first problem wolf. He had to be shot in 2016. Again and again there are wolf sightings in many parts of Germany. Even experts are concerned: “The danger is increasing.”

Current wolf sightings in Germany – where are the four-legged friends hanging out?

According to the Nature Conservation Union, around 157 wolf packs, 27 wolf pairs and 19 lone wolves live in Germany. Many of them have become accustomed to the presence of humans – partly because there is food near towns and villages – and have lost their shyness. At the beginning of April, the mayors of 17 Bavarian municipalities wrote an open letter to Bavaria’s Environment Minister Thorsten Faithr seeking help. And in Upper Bavaria, a young farmer witnessed a wolf attack on a pregnant goat.

Editor’s note

This article was originally published on April 25, 2022. Since it is still relevant for our readers, the editors have updated it.

Wolves are also repeatedly observed in Baden-Württemberg. In early March, for example, a hunter filmed a wolf chasing a deer. A walker in the Zollernalb district also claims to have seen a wolf. According to the federal documentation and advice center on wolves, most wolves live in northern and eastern Germany at the beginning of 2022. Especially around Leipzig, Dresden, Berlin, and Hanover there are many animals. At least three loners have settled permanently in Baden-Württemberg.

In the Face of the Wolf: How Humans Should Behave

In the spring of 2021, a case attracted a lot of attention: a woman walking her dog was followed and surrounded by a wolf for minutes. The woman recorded the tricky situation with her cell phone:

Because of the dangerous incident, the Lower Saxony State Ministry published some rules of conduct when encountering a wild wolf. Because “such close encounters are not isolated cases”. The encounter showed: “Wolves are not stuffed animals!” According to the ministry.

If you encounter a wolf, the most important thing is to keep calm. Most wolves are wary and will retreat if they see humans. One should not approach the wolf, especially if it has just killed an animal. Juveniles, however, are a bit more curious, and in some cases come closer. In such a case, the state ministry recommends:

  • Make yourself known by talking loudly, shouting, or clapping your hands.
  • Be bold in showing that you have the situation under control.
  • Slowly walk away from the wolf, always keeping eye contact with the animal.
  • Don’t run away! This can trigger pursuit instincts.
  • If the wolf persists, take a bold step towards it, make noise, and throw sticks or rocks at it. Pepper spray is also very effective.
  • If you have a dog with you, keep it close to you for its own protection.

With these recommendations, the wolf encounter should be resolved without any problems. However, the incident should then be reported to the nearest wolf advisors or the relevant ministry.

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