November/December 2012 – Meeting on implementation of the Snow Tracks monitoring campaign for large carnivores in 2012/2013

The last Snow Tracks campaign was held in winter 2009/2010. This year, the State Institute for Nature Protection, in cooperation with the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Zagreb, is again organising lectures and meetings in order to stimulate and continue with data collection. This is one of the methods used which contributes to obtaining better knowledge on the abundance and status of the wolf population in the area it inhabits. This method also serves as part of the foundation for planning management and conservation activities.

Four meetings were held at which Jasna Jeremić and Josip Kusak spoke on the management plan, methodologies of monitoring large carnivores, recognising and differentiating large carnivore tracks in the snow, and a special talk was given on the methodology of implementing the Snow Tracks campaign. Participants received maps of the area, the monitoring protocol and the forms for data entry.

The following series of meetings were held:

28 November at Plitvice Lakes National Park – the meeting was attended by staff of the expert and supervisory services of the Plitvice Lakes National Park, representatives of the Ministry of Defence from the Eugen Kvaternik military polygon at Slunj, and representatives of the Faculty of Biotechnology and Una National Park from Bosnia-Herzegovina.

29 November at the hunting lodge in Petrinja – the meeting was attended by representatives of the Fazan hunting society from Petrinja, Faculty of Agronomy of the University of Zagreb, numerous hunting societies (Veteran, Lještarka - Kraljevčaki, Srna - Gora, Kuna – Maja, Naretak – Hrvatska Kostajnica, Jelen – Divuša), representatives from the Popov Gaj hunting ground III/27 and representatives of the public institutes for the management of protected natural areas of Sisak-Moslavina County, and Karlovac College.

13 December at Krka National Park in Šibenik – the meeting was attended by staff of the expert and supervisory services of Krka National Park.

14 December at a hunting lodge in Makarska – the meeting was attended by representatives of hunting societies (Lovočuvar – Brela, Biokovo – Makarska, Kamenjarka – Podgora, Zagora – Vrgorac, Zec – Zagvozd, Kozica- Kozica), representatives of Croatian Forests and the expert and supervisory staff of Biokovo Nature Park.

Each meeting had a large turnout, and the work methodology in the project was presented and the operative implementation of the campaign agreed on. All ambiguities concerning snow tracks from earlier campaigns were also resolved. It was agreed that the first activities be initiated immediately once conditions became favourable. Those participating in the campaign will visit the habitats of large carnivores (hunting grounds and protected areas) and record data on every track found – species, direction of movement, and the smallest number of animals in the group. Maps with the data entered will then be forwarded to the State Institute for Nature Protection for further processing and analysis. After all collected data are processed, a joint workshop will be held to present the assessments of the population sizes for each species in the studied area.