The wolf mortality 1986-2006

By monitoring the mortality of wolves in the entire area of Croatia in the period from 1986 to 2006 the death of 144 wolves was recorded. In 83 per cent of cases the major cause of mortality is man, of which shooting accounts for 47 per cent, road kills for 34 per cent and other human causes are only sporadic. The mortality was due to natural causes in 7 per cent of the cases, of which 6 per cent relates to diseases and 1 per cent of deaths were caused by other wolves. It should be noted that this does not necessarily reflect the actual state, because mortality caused by humans is easily detected and documented, as opposed to natural mortality that remains undiscovered in most of the cases. The actual insight might only be gained if a substantial portion of the wolf population were collared and telemetrically monitored.

The number of dead wolves discovered points also to trends in the number of wolves (population trend). In the period from 1986 to 2006 the number of dead wolves found ranged from 0 to 16 a year. The wolves were least killed late in the 80s and early in the 90s of the last century, which coincides with the start of the war in the former state. At the moment of declaring the protection of wolves (1995) their number was already growing and kept growing till the year 2000. The slight decline in the number of dead wolves reported at that time resulted more from the public awareness of the wolf protection and high fines imposed for killing them, which consequently led to the absence of illegal kill reports, than from the drop in the total number of wolves. Owing to the Protocol for the Collecting of Protected Species Killed (Wolf, Lynx) prepared within the context of the LIFE project, over the past few years cases of wolf kill have been reported more frequently and promptly.

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