While taking a long hike through a local forest this afternoon, in the teeth of a bitter wind and some driving snow, we came across a long run of these:
They ran for a few hundred metres along a track deep in the forest, spaced out at an even distance, here in the Oberlausitz region of Saxony, which is close by the Czech and Polish borders.
‘Look at those tracks’, I said. ‘Do you think they’re from a wolf?’
‘Nah, that’s a big dog’, she said. ‘Shit, it’s big though’.
‘Are you sure?’ I said.
‘You can see that it’s on a lead’, she said.
I wondered about the absence of human footprints along a muddy track and the long lope between prints. She wondered about the size of the middle pad and the long claw marks at the front of the print, not to mention the size of an animal that would leave such deep prints.
Back at our lodgings by dusk and slowly warmed up again, we decided to check on wolves in this area.
The results: this is the favoured area for wolves returning to Germany, after an absence of 150 years!
Why? It is a relatively sparsely populated region, with 20,000 hectares of forests, open country, moors and heathland. And there’s plenty of game, since too many deer roam the forests. In fact, a wolf pack lives right here, initially a handful but now with cubs born every year. It all began about ten years ago, when a pair decided to cross the border from the mountains in Poland and set up a new home hereabouts. They mated and had two female cubs. Now known as One Eye and Sunny, they found mates, reproduced, and so the pack has expanded year by year. The young males born have set out to find new territory, roaming throughout the eastern parts of Germany and then as far as Jutland and the Netherlands. And now they are meeting up with some of their Mediterranean cousins from Italy and France. Apparently, a wolf can travel up to 200 km of an evening.
Given the German propensity to have everything managed, neatly and carefully, there is a ‘Wolf Office‘ right here, with all the information you might or might not want.
So yes, they are wolf tracks. A match for the wild boar spoor we saw yesterday.