Trends in the denning behaviour of the wolf and lynx in connection with the changes in the vertebrate community in Naliboki Forest

By investigating denning behaviour and ecology of wolves (Sidorovich and Rotenko, 2018) and lynxes in Naliboki Forest, north-western Belarus, during the last years (2016-2018) we faced with several evident trends that we connect with the changes in the local vertebrate community, more truly with the pronounced changes in the population number of the species  which may affect the denning conditions in wolves and lynxes.
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Seemingly strange in the wolf life things

Wolves frequently use surprising things such as plastic or glass bottles, metal or plastic cans, rubber or leather boots, bones, antlers etc. They carry them, gnaw them, play with them, demonstrate them to another wolf etc. In my research practice on wolves I registered such a wolf behavior for many times, and gradually I started […]

Wolves frequently use surprising things such as plastic or glass bottles, metal or plastic cans, rubber or leather boots, bones, antlers etc. They carry them, gnaw them, play with them, demonstrate them to another wolf etc. In my research practice on wolves I registered such a wolf behavior for many times, and gradually I started realizing, why wolves deal with the mentioned seemingly strange things. I might be not entirely right in the ideas, but anyway would like to share them as well as the photos taken.

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Mating in Eurasian lynxes

Mating in Eurasian lynxes and other questions in relation to that (such as pre-mating activity; life of kits, when their mothers go for mating; others) are quite poor investigated (e.g. Schmidt et al., 1997;  Schmidt, 1999; Jędrzejewski et al., 2002; Breitenmoser-Würsten et al., 2007; Samelius et al., 2012). The scarce information published on the question shows that these complicated mating-related actions in Eurasian lynxes are too simplified, while researchers mention about mating in lynxes. Let’s say there is evident gaps in the lynx-related literature on the species mating.

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How to distinguish tracks of wolves and dogs

Sometimes, it may be hard to differentiate tracks of the wolf and large domestic dog. Usually wolf footprints are bigger than those of dogs. Footprints left by wolves on a thin snow cover or loose ground are 8­–13 cm long and 6–9 cm wide, whereas in the conditions of a loose snow cover these dimensions may be slightly higher. Prints of wolf digital pads are symmetric and oval, whereas in dogs they are frequently wider in rear part than in the front part. Male wolf has wider footprints than those of female wolf. Ratio between length and width comprises about 1.3 in footprints of male wolves, and approximately 1.5 in those of female wolves. In wolf footprints all digital pads look more massive than those of dogs in relation to the interdigital pad, even of large ones, and the two central digital pads in wolf footprints are mostly placed in front of the lateral digital pads. However, in a big male wolf the later feature is not pronounced, and this may be used for rough distinguishing of males and females among adult wolves by their fore footprints. The central digital pads are also placed tighter to each other in wolf footprints than those of stray dogs.
However, these observations are not totally reliable. Nowadays, some big dogs have big paws and rather massive digital pads like those of wolves. Continue reading “How to distinguish tracks of wolves and dogs”

Scaring lynxes away from their kills by wolves

Recently I faced with the next fourth case of scaring lynxes away from their kills by wolves and decided to prepare this post about this curious way of the species interference. This fourth registered such a story was outstandingly rich on events and relatively well photo-documented, therefore, I will begin just with that story.

In the story the main acting persons were Els Lavrysen and Hans Van Loy, a couple of lynx amateurs from Belgium, who faced the case of scaring lynx family away from the roe deer carcass by two wolves in Naliboki Forest (the central-western part of Belarus). Continue reading “Scaring lynxes away from their kills by wolves”

Recently published book on the wolf reproduction biology

Together with Irina Rotenko we published a book about wolves in Belarus. There, we will address the questions of the species reproduction biology  that are still insufficiently investigated and full of contradicting hypotheses and knowledge. However, the main thing for us in doing this book is that being interested in studying these hidden part of wolf life, we would like to share the knowledge and skills we have gained on wolves in Belarus with wolf colleagues and amateurs. Continue reading “Recently published book on the wolf reproduction biology”

Mortality in wolf pups

The main monograph on the grey wolf by Mech and Boitani (2003), which still provides the basic and unequalled knowledge on the species biology, informed the following. “Almost 30 years ago, Keith (1974) concluded that “the factors which provide wolf pup mortality during the first 5 months are almost wholly unknown. This is probably the single greatest enigma in wolf biology today.” Though some strides have been made toward identifying these factors, this is still a much needed area of research.”
While reading this in 2004, we already were much aimed by the question. Moreover, the opportunity to find out something really new in the wolf biology accelerated these our research efforts. Nowadays, we may say that, at least, for the region of Belarus mortality in wolf pups is known more or less. Also, we assume that the factors, which impact the survival of wolf pups in Belarus, act in other regions of European forest zone. At the same time, we suppose that the only main causes of wolf pup mortality were found out, whereas many smaller questions remain unresolved.

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