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.
In the scientific literature about brown bears Ursus arctos and wolves Canis lupus there is information on the interactions of the species. Nevertheless, facing that denning in wolves is so insufficiently investigated (Sidorovich and Rotenko, 2017, 2019), it is easily believed that possible interference of brown bears towards wolves at denning is unknown still.
In Naliboki Forest (north-western Belarus)there is Barsucha steading that was abandoned by locals seven years ago. For the last five years a male brown bear has been living here. There are about thirty power poles that brought electricity to the steading. The power poles were made from pine logs and deeply treated with tar (particularly by creosote). At least, 22 of these poles were regularly visited by the bear. The bear acted there by gnawing the poles and rubbing against them by different ways. Additionally the bear dug for the tar around the pole and rolled a lot on at the poles.
In Naliboki Forest adult lynxes particularly males are known as killers of the vulnerable categories of wolves such as pups, lonely living subadults and heavily pregnant females (Sidorovich et al., 2019). Also, lynxes may be a valuable competitor for wolves in their exploiting of the roe deer and beaver populations. Study on the interference of wolves and lynxes in Naliboki Forest suggested that wolves disagree with presence of lynxes in the habitats, and they behave aggressively towards lynxes, too. Lynxes feel safe in forest habitats, whereas they mainly avoid openings, when wolves are common in the habitats and where they may be killed by a wolf pack, because there are no trees to escape. Continue reading “Wolf erasing off marking points of lynxes”
In snowless period spots with open sand, peat or other ground types are outstanding elements in the habitat structure in forested areas such as Belarus, and many mammal species tend to use them for territorial marking. Among these mammal species first of all it may be mentioned red deer, bison, wolf and lynx.
Concerning territorial marking by lynxes there is intriguing question of a great interest of wolves, red foxes and deer to lynx marking points, but there is no such a reaction of lynxes and deer to marking by wolves. It is easy to realize, why red deer, roe deer and red foxes pay so much attention – lynxes kill them often. Therefore, any information about lynx distribution and status (adult or young, sex, welfare etc.) are important for these victim species. The same is for wolves. Adult lynxes not infrequently kill wolves from vulnerable categories such as pups, heavily pregnant females, just small individuals. However why there is no such a pronounced reaction on marking by wolves?
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. Continue reading “Survival of the ten pups in that large wolf family in Naliboki Forest: an intermediate report”
This post gives the documentation by a camera-trap of two different litters (10 pups altogether), two breeding females of the same wolf pack, the founding male and two pup-sitters in Naliboki Forest. The last feature is particularly essential. One or two pup-sitters were present at pups on about 60% of the hundreds of photos taken. It looks like we have registered the features of another trend in the wolf denning behavior that we haven’t faced with before the lynx got common. That is when breeding wolves use pup-sitters to save their pups from the lynx aggression (see another post for other details), when they go for hunting.
A year ago, while publishing the book about badgers and raccoon dogs in Belarus (“Badger and Raccoon dog in Belarus: Population studies with implication for the decline in badgers“, Minsk, 2017), it looked like we knew all possible ways of interference between raccoon dogs and badgers. We registered blocking badgers sleeping in the sett’s hibernating chamber by raccoon dogs with suffocating of the badgers afterwards; killing of badger cubs by raccoon dogs; non-effective attacks of badger on raccoon dog at its sett as well as a lot of marking of badger setts by both species in order to prevent usage of the sett by the burrow-competitor species. Any attack of an active badger by raccoon dogs was not registered, and that was considered as something non-real.