Survival of the ten pups in that large wolf family in Naliboki Forest: an intermediate report

In one of the previous posts I reported about presence of the large family of wolves in Naliboki Forest that in the last July (i.e. July of 2018) consisted of founding male, two breeding females, two litters with ten pups altogether and two pup-sitters, which were almost all the time with the pups. Presence of these pup-sitters was connected with the extra care of parents to save pups from lynx attacks. The last years in Naliboki Forest in  the conditions of the high number of lynxes (3-5 inds per 100 km2) wolf pup survival was very low; e.g. only about 4% of the wolf pups that were born in the spring of 2017 survived till the winter of 2017-2018. The occasions that wolf pups were killed by lynxes were numerically registered in Naliboki Forest earlier.

During the late August and September adult  wolves from the family foraged frequently in the core area of human hunting on elk and red deer, and they killed, at least, one elk and one red deer there.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Being there often  it looks like one of the mothers and one pup-sitter were killed there by hunters somehow. Anyway they have disappeared.  That time all ten pups mostly stayed at the distance of 3-5 km from the human-hunting area in a well-sheltered place in the small river valley grassland with a sand dune nearby, where they groomed. Also, there were several abandoned homestead places nearby that were often visited by the wolf family. This new home site of the family was situated at the distance of 1-2 km from the former one that was used by the family in July.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

During  the uncertain  hunter-related disturbance of the adult wolves (parents and pup-sitters) there was a period when pups stayed alone during 3-5 days without food and any parent visit. It is hard to say how it was going on with that, but definitely the pups were abandoned for long. Just during this time an adult male lynx started roaming in the same area where the pups stayed. Every day the lynx tracks were registered on sand dune in the close proximity to the pups. I did not discover any pup that was killed by the lynx (first of all, avoiding to disturb additionally the wolf family). When finally three adults (one mother, father and one pup-sitter) have rejoined the pups, there were registered only four pups, while other six pups perhaps died somehow plausibly from the lynx attack.

In the late September and October the family started to use two home sites. One was the forested island in the small river valley that was used by the wolves in July. The other location was another small river valley with dense grass stand and willow bushes at the distance of about 3 km from the island with the initial family home site.

MOULTRIE DIGITAL GAME CAMERA
The family on their grooming place on the island among river valley
MOULTRIE DIGITAL GAME CAMERA
The family on their grooming place on the island among river valley
MOULTRIE DIGITAL GAME CAMERA
The family on their grooming place on the island among river valley
MOULTRIE DIGITAL GAME CAMERA
The family on their grooming place on the island among river valley
MOULTRIE DIGITAL GAME CAMERA
The family on their grooming place on the island among river valley
MOULTRIE DIGITAL GAME CAMERA
The family on their grooming place on the island among river valley
MOULTRIE DIGITAL GAME CAMERA
The family on their grooming place on the island among river valley
MOULTRIE DIGITAL GAME CAMERA
The family on their grooming place on the island among river valley

Still there is a possibility that the two adult wolves (one mother and one pup-sitter) from the family were not killed, but they have separated from the family  by taking a part of the pups as it normally happened in the studied cases of pack multibreeding in Naliboki Forest. Nevertheless, a plausibility of such a way is not high, because we applied about 50 camera-traps in the surrounding areas in Naliboki Forest and frequently inspect habitats there. Still this other hypothetical family was not found. Meantime, it was possible to do that due to a high intensity of checking and easily recognizable disappeared mother.  The coming winter will provide a more precise answer on this question.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s