Česká verze

Monitoring of large carnivores in the Czech Republic – volunteers from the low lands go for it!

20.10.2014, Carnivores.cz

In February 2014, a group of 7 volunteers from the Netherlands and Belgium traveled to the Beskydy Mountains in the east of the Czech Republic to help with a monitoring project. Searching for tracks of lynx, wolves and other animals we crossed the snowy mountains.

evening in the moutain cabine

The monitoring project

The monitoring of large carnivores in this area is organized by Friends of the Earth Czech Republic, an NGO that is involved in several environment protecting activities. The goal of the monitoring is to get information about the numbers of large carnivores (lynx, wolf and bear) in the area and to use this information to influence the public opinion (which is not always favorable to these animals) and the policies of the owners of the nature areas.

The monitoring is carried out by the employees of the organization and numerous volunteers. Most monitoring is being done in the winter: by snow tracking the animals. Scat and hairs are gathered for DNA-analysis and camera traps are installed at marking places or nearby the rests of killed prey. With these methods, information is gathered about the number, distribution and home ranges of the animals.

Large carnivores in the Czech Republic

Three species of large carnivores have their home in the Beskydy Mountains: lynx, wolves and bears. Of these 3 species, the lynx is the most common and therefore easiest to monitor. Three adults and two cubs are currently living in the area we visited, but in the whole boarder area there are about 15 animals including cubs. By camera trapping and snow tracking it is possible to keep a fairly good track of where the animals go and what they are doing. Unfortunately there is a risk of poaching, as stories of hunters shooting lynx are sometimes still heard.

Lynx male in Beskydy Mts.; photo: Friends of the Earth Czech Republic

Wolves are occasionally crossing the border from the Slovak Republic to this mountain area. In the Slovak Republic, wolf hunting is still allowed. Slovakia has the exception from the European Habitat's Directive, therefore they can hunt wolves every year. The maximum of legally shot wolves was 80 this winter, in recent years hunters killed even 120-150 animals.  This severely limits the possibilities for a healthy wolf population to develop in the border region.

Friends of the Earth Czech Republic are closely collaborating with nature organizations in the Slovak Republic and Poland and are also involved in the monitoring of carnivores on the other side of the border. The rate of bear population in the Slovak Republic is pretty high (± 700) and they sometimes come to the Czech side of the border. Since there are some roads and industrial areas around the border, the organization is also working on green corridors and ecoducts to make the passing of the border easier for the animals.

Volunteers on an adventure

After a long train ride we arrived in the village of Celadna and were picked up by the owner of the field station Plucnarka, deep in one of the valleys of the Beskydy Mts. The next morning we went up in the mountains in two groups to look for tracks. One group found a few lynx tracks on a rocky slope, unfortunately the tracks couldn't be followed very far. The other group checked and installed some camera traps. The next day one group followed the tracks of two lynx, but it was unclear if it were the tracks of two cubs that were born last year or if it were tracks of a male and a female, since it was the start of the mating season. DNA-analysis of the found scat will have to make this clear.

Snow tracking lynx tracks

Lynx track


Afterwards we made a trip of two days to a remote cabin near the summit of the highest mountain of the area (Lysa Hora). We saw and heard lots of interesting phenomena (tracks of the Boreal Owl, calling of the Ural Owl, watching the sun rise from the top of the mountain), but no tracks of large carnivores (though a month ago another volunteer reported some bear tracks from this area).

The last day we spent by following some more lynx tracks and checking some camera traps in a misty weather. Awe also got a report from another volunteer, who discovered tracks of possibly four wolves, who had crossed the border from the Slovak Republic to some mountains situated a bit more to the south. Sadly, it was already time to go home for us. We learnt a lot about tracking, monitoring, the habitat of lynx and the issues that come up with the coexistence of man and large carnivores. It was a great adventure and we hope to come back one day to help with the monitoring again.


For further information, see http://www.carnivores.cz/ , donations for this project are also very welcome.



documentation of lynx footprints; photo: Josefa Volfova


Friends of the Earth are able to carry out projects on protection and monitoring of large carnivores thanks to generous support of individual donors – Friends of Large Carnivores. Please join us here.

Copyright © Hnuti DUHA Olomouc

created by Michal Kandr