The state treasury is responsible for damages caused by wolves according to Article 126(2) of the Nature Conservation Act. The procedure for compensating damages is regulated by the Minister of Environment’s Regulation of February 8, 2018, regarding the estimation of damages caused by certain protected species of animals. In the case of damages caused by wolves, a compensation application should be submitted to the relevant regional director of environmental protection (in the case of the Pomeranian Voivodeship, to the Regional Director of Environmental Protection in Gdańsk). It is essential to report the damages immediately after their discovery. The attacked animals should not be moved, and their traces should not be erased in their vicinity. It is recommended to document the damages with photographs. Importantly, compensation is not granted for damages caused by wolves, among other things, to livestock left unattended from sunset to sunrise, according to Article 126(6)(3)(d) of the Nature Conservation Act. At the same time, it should be remembered that cattle owners are obliged to secure their animals during the day in pastures, and in late autumn, it is also advisable to limit the movement of animals to pastures. There are publications available that provide information on ways to protect against damages caused by wolves, such as the “Guide to protecting livestock from wolves” (Sabina Nowak, Robert W. Mysłajek) developed by the “Wolf” Association for Nature – Twardorzeczka 2020. This publication is available on the website of the “Wolf” Association for Nature. It should also be noted that, according to the Animal Protection Act, there is a ban on letting dogs roam without the possibility of control and without proper identification of the owner or caretaker, and according to forest laws, dogs must not be let loose in the forest. Wolves are usually shy and avoid contact with humans (fear of humans is a characteristic feature of this species). However, like any wild animal, they can behave unpredictably if they are frightened, sick, or injured. This can be caused by disorders resulting from diseases such as scabies or rabies. In the case of young wolves, the disorders can also be caused by the breakup of the pack, for example, as a result of the parents’ death caused by poaching. In the event of encountering a wolf that approaches within a distance shorter than 30m or observes us for too long, it is recommended to:
– Raise and wave your hands widely in the air. This will spread your scent and make your silhouette more visible.
– Shout loudly, in a strong tone, towards the wolf. This will make it realize that it is dealing with a human and that it is not welcome.
– If the animal does not react and instead approaches closer, throw objects that are within reach, preferably clumps of earth, at it.
– Retreat calmly and only accelerate when you are sure that the animal is far away and not interested in you.
– If possible, take a photo of the animal and report the incident to the appropriate Municipal Office, Regional Director of Environmental Protection, and the “Wolf” Association for Nature.
Trash cans or compost bins can attract wolves to approach houses and farms, providing an easy source of food. Installing motion sensor lighting near these containers can deter wolves. It is also important not to leave food scraps in the forest during trips – all waste should be taken with you to avoid attracting predators. Young wolves, in particular, can become dependent on such a food source and eventually perceive humans as food providers. If you notice a wolf whose behavior causes concern or if you find a wolf cub, if possible, take photos and mark the location, for example, on Google Maps or remember the number of the forest unit pole, and immediately inform the relevant regional director of environmental protection and representatives of the “Wolf” Association for Nature. The same should be done if you have information that someone is unlawfully keeping a wolf. Irresponsible behavior by people attempting to feed or tame wolves can be problematic. Practices such as unethical and imaginative photography of wild animals using baits (places where animals are lured by food) are particularly reprehensible. Creating bait sites can have serious consequences for these beautiful and valuable animals in the ecosystem. The result can be the loss of natural fear of humans and wolves approaching buildings, attacking domestic and farm animals. In this regard, it is worth noting that the Polish Association of Wildlife Photographers has introduced a ban on feeding large predators if it is intended for photography purposes into its Code of Ethics. For the safety of people, as well as for the sake of wolves, it is crucial to avoid actions that encourage these predators to stay near buildings or become dependent on humans, including securing waste containers from the access of predatory animals, especially in areas where wolves have been observed. Adhering to the above principles will undoubtedly reduce incidents involving wolves, which constitute a conflict between human activity and nature. Information obtained from https://www.gov.pl/web/rdos-warszawa/o-wilku-slow-kilka. Photo by G. Leśniewski.