Results of our study on wolf reproduction in Naliboki Forest in 2022

Co-author Irina Rotenko

This year we studied the question of wolf reproduction in Naliboki Forest in the area of about one thousand square kilometres. In the spring of 2022, there were present two breeding groups of wolves in the study area: a couple and an adult male with two pregnant females. All five adult wolves were recognisable, and we knew them from the previous years.

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Raccoon dogs attacked an adult badger at its outlier

Co-author Irina Rotenko

An aggressive encounter between raccoon dog and badger was documented by a camera-trap at the badger outlier in early June in Naliboki Forest, the central-western part of Belarus.

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Wolf vandalizes badger sett with badger cubs inside

Co-author Irina Rotenko

In Belarus wolves visit badger setts rather often. Frequently the aim of such visits is to catch a badger that slacked near the burrow. During the breeding season of wolves, quite usually they try to get rid of badgers and occupy their sett. They use such burrows to leave pups inside. Normally wolf breeders enlarge the entrances of such a badger sett.

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Double breeding in the model wolf pack during the spring of 2022 with implication for a pattern of a pack multi-breeding

Co-author Irina Rotenko

In the book on the grey wolf reproduction biology (Sidorovich & Rotenko, 2019) we told about several patterns of wolf pack multi-breeding, which we documented in Naliboki Forest and Paazierre Forest in Belarus during the last two decades. The main distinctive feature in wolf pack multi-breeding is how many big adult males, which perhaps equally ranked, take part in a breeding group of wolves. If a male leads a breeding group, normally it is only a strong male in the breeding group. Such a group of breeders may include two or three breeding females.

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Lynx addiction to road pipes

Co-author Irina Rotenko

In one of the former posts we have already addressed to the question of usage of road pipes by lynxes. In the given post we provide some further results on the question including respective video-footage, while the former post was illustrated only by photo-registrations.

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Scientific book “Behaviour and ecology of the Eurasian lynx” has been published

This scientific book gives the results of the long-term studies on the Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx in Belarus, mainly in Naliboki Forest and Paazierre Forest. Population structure, breeding, diet and prey supply as well as the variety of behavioural traits were considered. Among behavioural questions there were investigated sociality, hunting modes, mating and denning behaviour, territorial marking, sheltering and interspecific interference. The monograph presents not only the regional aspects of lynx biology, but also includes many new findings for the Eurasian lynx overall.

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Video-documentation of stay of lynx kittens, when their mother went for hunting

Co-author Irina Rotenko

Mother lynx left her kittens in a sheltered place at a small beaver pond surrounded by reed thicket and went for hunting. After half an hour play, the kittens went to rest in the reed stand. Three hours later lynx mother reunited with them.

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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.

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Results of study on Eurasian lynx post-denning family life in Naliboki Forest during the warm season of 2021

Coauthor Irina Rotenko

During the warm season of 2021 in Naliboki Forest we investigated post-denning life of four families of Eurasian lynxes. Doing that, we applied about sixty camera traps. Among the mother lynxes there were three model females (Aurelija, Jurchykha and Darota), which we traced for several years before, and one newly appeared mother lynx. The number of kittens varied from one to three: 1 (the new mother), 2 (Jurchykha and Aurelija) and 3 (Darota).

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Video-results of the study on wolf denning in May 2021 in Naliboki Forest: again wolves denned in burrows only and no more on open couches

Co-authors: Irina Rotenko and Gerard Oonk

In the last year after our study on denning in wolves in May 2020 we have already reported about the peculiar situation in denning by wolves in Naliboki Forest, the central-western Belarus. Wolf breeders stopped denning on open coaches as it used to be, and they began denning in burrows exclusively, when mammals (red deer, bison, elk, lynx, brown bear), which are characterized by aggressive behaviour to pups, got plenty altogether in this forested terrain.

In May 2021 we discovered four active wolf dens and traced the denning behaviour of two wolf breeding groups having two and three breeding females (both cases of a multi-breeding in a wolf pack). All the five breeding female wolves kept pups in burrows only. Altogether we found 33 wolf burrow-dens that were used for denning: 7 self-made by wolves and 26 enlarged badger-setts and outliers. Interestingly, that 11 out of 26 badger burrows were wolf burrow-dens before (2-7 years ago). No any wolf couch-dens were found in May 2021, while before such a situation that is inimical for wolf denning they denned on open couches and pits.

See the video below for the details of denning in wolves in Naliboki Forest during May 2021.