Again very high mortality in wolf pups in Naliboki Forest in 2021: only one pup survived from 6 litters

Co-author Irina Rotenko

Since May 2021 in the protected area of Naliboki Forest consisting slightly more than one thousand square kilometres we traced six wolf litters. Altogether there were 35-40 wolf pups. In the mid-July there were registered 15 pups (2, 8 and 5). In September only one breeder group saved 4 pups. These breeder group consisted of mother, father and another adult female, which was like a pup-sitter. Till December they lost 3 more pups. In the beginning of January 2022 merely one pup walked with the three adult wolves there. That pup was the only single one in the the protected area of Naliboki Forest and the whole Naliboki Forest in the beginning of 2022.

Among the causes of disappearance of the pups, the following ones may be listed. One wolf burrow-den with six pups was destroyed by a brown bear in May in the Navusts’ locality.

One breeding group (three breeding females and two adult males; the case of pack triple-breeding) at the Biarezina medium-sized river, having three litters initially, lost all the pups till August. In the area of their stay three adult male lynxes were registered by camera-traps in proximity to the wolf litters in repeated occasions. So, we blame these adult male lynxes in killing of the pups. In previous years we well-documented killing of wolf pups by adult male lynxes in this area. One of the male – killer of wolf pups (we call Jury) stays in the area still.

One more wolf family in the localities of Jamno-Budy-Shubin, perhaps, suffered from two adult male lynxes, too. The adult male lynxes were registered in proximity to them in repeated occasions.

One more wolf litters could be killed by either bison or adult male lynx or stags. All of them very frequently registered by camera-traps in proximity to the pups.

There was no hunting on wolves or working of wolf pup searchers in the protected area of Naliboki Forest in 2021.

5 thoughts on “Again very high mortality in wolf pups in Naliboki Forest in 2021: only one pup survived from 6 litters”

  1. Sorry but not a lover of wolfs! I seen what and how they kill for fun while I lived, hunted and worked in Alaska! But I still love ur videos!

    On Wed, Jan 5, 2022, 1:05 PM Zoology by Vadim Sidorovich wrote:

    > Vadim Sidorovich posted: ” Co-author Irina Rotenko Since May 2021 in the > protected area of Naliboki Forest consisting slightly more than one > thousand square kilometres we traced six wolf litters. Altogether there > were 35-40 wolf pups. In the mid-July there were registered 15 p” >

  2. Hi Vadim & Irina,

    I hope you are both well, and your growing family flourishing.

    This is a sad story for the wolf population, but in your experience is it unusual for only 1 out of 44 pups to survive? It seems an extreme number to me. But does it perhaps indicate an imbalance between wolves and lynxes? Is it just a natural way to maintain balance in the eco-system? Are you concerned for the wolf population?

    I would be interested to hear.

    Roddy

    1. Hello Roddy, thanks for the really worthwhile question on the topic about wolf reproduction. I still remember how we have seen a wolf in the last hour of your trip here.
      Actually, I waited that somebody would raise such a question finally.
      This wolf reproduction problem comes from human. Historically before much impact of human on natural forest ecosystems there were not so many red deer, roe deer, bison, elks and lynxes. The terrain-wide logging and reforestation, draining of marshes for hay-taking fields with hay stores, fields with maize or grain etc, silo stores and feeding stations altogether provided a high increase of habitat carrying capacity for wild ungulates approximately in 10 to 100-fold in Naliboki Forest. We know that while comparing wild ungulate density at present and in the primary Naliboki Forest, what we more or less can learn from the archive of Radzivil duke, who owned Naliboki Forest since the late 16th century.
      The highly increased density of roe deer and red deer led to a lot higher possible density of lynxes. From the archive of Radzivil duke, it is possible to assume that in the primary Naliboki Forest there were 2-4 lynxes per 1000 square km. Nowadays we have 2-5 lynxes per 100 square km. So, possibility of wolves to save and raise pups with their behavioural manner of denning and raising pups (read wolf book Sidorovich, Rotenko, 2019 in Research Gate ) got almost impossible especially if there are many lynxes, bears and bison. Red deer and elk are not too much problem for reproduction of wolves. Wolves try to adapt for the new unfavourable situation. They subordinate special non-breeding females as pup-sitters; they began denning in burrows exclusively; they relocate pups in extensive grasslands or maize field etc. However, the very bad problem that lynxes and bears tend to hunt on wolf pups systematically and deliberately.

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