Česká verze

Large carnivore monitoring in the Western Carpathians

Join the project and help with the effective conservation of endangered species

Every year Friends of the Earth Czech Republic organize field monitoring of lynx and wolves in the mountains along the Czech-Slovakian border. Join the action, help with our field research and conservation efforts, learn about large mammals and their role in forest ecosystem... and meet people with similar interest!

Volunteers documenting lynx footprintsLynx in the Beskydy PLA captured by a camera trap

Date: 27.1.- 2.2.2018

Location: Kysucké Beskydy and Oravská Magura, Slovakia, Kysuce Protected Landscape Area

Main goal: A field study of lynx and wolf occurrence and ecology in the Western Carpathians: snow tracking, collecting samples for DNA and diet analyses, installation of camera traps.

Bacground information:

Wolves, lynx and bears have been an integral part of forest ecosystems in Central Europe for thousands of years, but over the last centuries, their populations suffered from hunting and habitat destruction. The conservation effort and socioeconomic changes in the countryside in the last decades allowed the gradual recovering of large carnivore populations throughout Europe. The mountain ranges of Western Carpathians have once again become the home of these controversial and charismatic species. Little is still known about their impact on forest ecosystem, habitat requirements, genetic structure, and migration corridors. The impact of wolf hunting quotas in Slovakia seems to be a major force influencing the dispersal of animals to the west. The aim of our conservation research project is to answer some of the questions and to help protect wolves and lynx in their mountain habitat.

Grey wolves resting on snowPhoto: Karel Brož


Miroslav KutalFriends of the Earth Czech Republic (FoE CZ) are an environmental NGO active in nature conservation with a special focus on large carnivores for more than 15 years. In the Czech Republic, we are the leading organization in this field. We have realized a number of projects focused on species conservation, field monitoring, and public education and awareness across the country. Our experts cooperate with state nature conservation agencies, universities and other European environmental NGOs. About hundred trained volunteers (so-called Wolf Patrols) participate in the field monitoring each year.

Our project leader, field biologist Miroslav Kutal, has over 15 years of experience with large carnivores monitoring and conservation. He also works for the Institute of Forest Ecology at Mendel University Brno.  He is an author of both scientific and popular articles, gives public lectures on large carnivores, and coordinates the training of new volunteers.


Price: wire transfer € 280 / in cash on the spot  € 300

Meals: the first (welcome) dinner paid by the organizer, other meals not included

Essential equipment: winter trek boots, warm winter clothing (make sure you have a spare change of clothes), gaiters, headlight, daypack.

Recommended equipment: snowshoes (depends on the weather, we are usually able to lend you some if pre-arranged), GPS, thermos flask, energy bars etc.

Arrival: We will pick you up at the Žilina railway station (about 5 hours by express train from Prague or 2 – 3 hours by train from Bratislava) and we will travel to the field station by car or by a public bus.

For up-to-date information on public transport, check IDOS timetables


7-day monitoring programme:

Day 1 (Saturday): arrival, dinner, introduction to the field monitoring

Day 2 – 6:

A volunteer documenting tracks of two lynxA Volunteer checking a trail camera

  • processing of field data
  • presentations on topics of your choice: measures for large carnivore conservation, threats: overhunting, migration barriers and landscape fragmentation, the role of large carnivores in the forest ecosystem
  • documentary movies about large carnivores
  • social activities

Day 7 (Friday): Departure


Get inspired

Read the report from 2014 by Aukje Brandebrug or from 2013 by Francis Williams


Additional information

Climate and natural conditions

The average winter temperatures fall below -5°C. The snow can sometimes lie over a metre deep. We will inform you shortly before your departure from home if it is reasonable to take snowshoes with you. We also have some spare pairs to lend you if necessary.

The main mountain range of Moravskoslezske Beskydy rises to just over 1,000 metres above sea level.  Mighty mountain ranges with stunning views are separated by deep valleys with natural mountain streams. The mountains are mostly covered by spruce and beech forests (some managed and some left without interventions). There are no avalanches in the Beskydy Mts.!

Field monitoring in a snow covered landscape

Field monitoring

Snow tracking

The monitoring will take place 1 – 5 days after the last snowfall on transect routes with the assumed presence of large carnivores. Each group will be led by experienced field guide, who will show you the characteristic Carpathian beech-fir forests and, if lucky, some rare wildlife (such as three-toed woodpecker, white-backed woodpecker or hazel grouse) or they tracks. All data will be saved in GPS and documented for later processing.

If lynx or wolf tracks are found, they will be backtracked in order to learn additional information from the tracks, assess the number of animals, and find other occurrence signs, such as scat, scent-marks, or remains of prey. Scat or hair samples will be collected for genetic and diet analyses. Automatic trail cameras will be installed in the vicinity of scent marks or prey remains.

The length of the field walk will depend on weather, snow conditions and time spent by snow tracking. On average we will cover 15 – 20 km per day. Primarily, the routes will be planned along tourist paths and forest roads.

Depending on the interest of participants, we may move to a small log cabin in woods to monitor more remote areas – or even to overnight in the forest with no shelter (in that case, a good sleeping bag, or two normal ones are a must!).

Funding support and acknowledgment

The participants' fees help to finance large carnivore conservation in the Czech Republic which is partly funded by a grant from Switzerland to the Enlarged European Union. Thank you for supporting European large carnivores :)


Application forms

Plaease donwload the application form here and send the document to info@carnivores.cz.



Miroslav Kutal

E-mail:  info@carnivores.cz

Mobile phone: +420 728 832 889

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