Bologov: Wolf rehabilitation Report 2011

Lue Bologovin oma raportti valokuvineen susien siirtoistutuksista Suomen rajan tuntumassa:

I started work as a wolf biologist studying the ecology and behaviour of wild wolves in Central parts of European Russia, in 1986. My work began with studying wild wolves in their natural environment, tracking their movements, studying prints and excrement. However, there were very few opportunities for direct observations, so in 1993 I decided to study wolf pups that were either taken by hunters from the wild, or born in zoos. 

These observations of the development of wolf pups’ behaviour showed me that orphaned wolf pups, if they grow up in the forest, can adapt to independent life in the wild on their own. My project entered a second phase, namely that of rehabilitating wild-caught or captive-born wolf pups, which worked well.

The next step was to stop making the pups tame. I placed them in big enclosures, out of contact with man, where they stayed until they reached the age of ten to twelve months. Then they were released, simply by leaving the doors open, so they could go out and return at will. I also used up to four yearlings as foster parents for the pups, thus imitating life in a wolf pack. This allowed for the pups to get a better knowledge of pack interactions. Until they’re released, the pups’ knowledge of the environment is limited by the size of the enclosure. The next step was then to rehabilitate wolf pups without an enclosure. This brings some problems with feeding and caring, but it gives more possibilities for the pups to adapt to their environment with minimum support of man. For this free rearing, I decided to use islands as natural enclosures.

In 2011 I tested this idea for the first time. Six wolf pups were taken from Jarislavl Zoo and placed on an island 1000 km removed from the biological station, where I worked with 65 wolf pups until then. 57 of them were released and went back to the wild. In 2012 we will continue the program in Karelia where there are many islands and low human density.

The territory found in Karelia is a good place to carry out rehabilitations projects for wolves and other species, such as lynx, wolverine and otter. Orphaned wolf pups are capable of looking after themselves, with only minimal human support during their first year, as long as there are no humans around and they have enough food resources.

Raising wolf pups without using enclosures has shown wolf pups can alternate between living in packs and in pairs, or even on their own.

Lähde: Vladimir Bologov, Susien siirtoistutusraportti 2011

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