Rietschen (dpa) - Saxon wolves travel quite far - as far as Belarus and Denmark, individual animals have already been shown to have trotted.

"A wolf doesn't have Google Earth, it just starts running," says Ilka Reinhardt from the Lupus Institute for Wolf Monitoring and Research in Saxony. Here you now know pretty well where the Canis lupus - the largest predator from the dog family - swarms to. The researchers receive their information from transmitters that transmit the location of the animals via satellite. After two years, the collars with the transmitters detach themselves and the wolf plunges back into anonymity. The dates of his hikes remain.

This summer Saxony has equipped two wolves with transmitters for the first time in a long time. Since then, the two wolves Lotta and July have been straying through the forests of the Free State and its northern neighbor Brandenburg. "We still do not know whether it is mother and daughter or aunt and niece," says Reinhardt. A genetic analysis of the two ferries is still pending.

According to the radio data, July has already made a long trip to the outskirts of Cottbus. According to Reinhardt, this can be an indication that the female wants to start a family: "The problem: she needs a piece of land." And at least in some parts of the country they are becoming scarce. In Germany, the population will continue to grow as long as wolves find suitable and free territories, says Reinhardt. Where wolves are already present, however, the spread is slower. The experts speak of "saturated areas".

At the beginning of December, the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation and the federal documentation and advice center on the subject of wolf (DBBW) published new figures on the stock. Brandenburg has replaced Saxony as the number one wolf country with 41 packs. Saxony and Lower Saxony rank behind with 22 and 21 associations. According to wolf monitoring in Lower Saxony, as of December 2019 there are even 23 packs at home. A pack consists of about eight animals - the parents and offspring of the past two years. For the first time, wolves have been detected in Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein - even if they are only loners. 11 federal states are now wolf territory.

According to the monitoring for the wolf year 2018/19 - it runs from May 1st of one year to April 30th of the following year - there are in addition to 105 packs 25 recorded wolf pairs and 13 sedentary single wolves. In the previous monitoring, there were 77 packs, 40 pairs and 3 individual wolves across Germany. The German Hunting Association estimates the number of wolves nationwide as higher - currently to around 1300 animals - and forecasts almost 1800 of the predators for the coming spring.

The Naturschutzbund Deutschland considers the numbers of the hunting association to be exaggerated. "This only causes panic," says Nabu wolf expert Marie Neuwald. The hunters apparently counted all yearlings and puppies, but they had no relevance to the actual number: "Puppy mortality is 50 percent in the first year of life, there is a lot of fluctuation." It will take a while until the local ones Population have the so-called favorable conservation status of 1000 adult animals.

Frank Fass, head of the Wolf Center Dörverden (Lower Saxony) puts the annual growth rate of wolf territories on average at 30 percent. That would mean about 130 packs at the end of the current wolf year. «Every landscape has a capacity. This decides how many packs have space in it, »says the expert. The population will continue to grow.

Saxony was the first federal state to detect wolf pups in 2000 - 96 years after the last of its kind was shot in this region. Since then there has been a rapid development. The robbers migrated from Saxony mainly in a north-westerly direction - to Brandenburg and Lower Saxony. The expansion to the south, however, is rather slow. That flatland wolves don't like to go to the mountains is only a theory, says Ilka Reinhardt. Nevertheless: the number of wolves will continue, even in times of climate change. Wolves are considered very adaptable.

Last but not least, their high protection status has meant that they can spread almost unhindered in Germany. What nature conservationists enjoy brings livestock farmers to the palm. Because with the growing population, the number of torn sheep, goats or cattle also increases. For 2018, the DBBW lists 639 attacks by wolves on farm animals, in which 2067 were killed or injured. In the previous year there were 472 attacks and 1667 victims, in 2016 the ratio was 285 to 1079. The trend is clear.

However, there is no automatic connection. "A comparison of damage to farm animals in different European countries showed that the extent of damage to farm animals did not depend on the size of the wolf population in a country or on the number of farm animals," writes the DBBW in the current report. It is crucial how good or bad especially sheep and goats were protected from wolf attacks. "This analysis is confirmed by experience in Germany," it says.

According to the documentation and advice center, most attacks occur where wolves colonize new territories and sheep and goat farmers have not yet prepared for their presence: “Most of the damage in these areas goes back if the animal owners apply herd protection measures correctly. »

When wolves attack a herd, there is often a massacre. Just like in autumn 2018, when several animals near Förstgen in East Saxony tore at least 40 sheep and goats. This behavior is also known from other predators. When hunting wild prey such as deer, wolves have little chance of killing more than one animal, reports the “Wolves in Saxony” contact office. A herd, on the other hand, offers an oversupply of food: "This favorable opportunity causes more animals to be killed than can be consumed at once."

The loss of farm animals is the real conflict between humans and wolves. It is considered unlikely that he will attack people. The reason is simple: they do not belong in his prey scheme. Even if wolves usually shy away from people: On Monday (December 30th) a wolf got lost in a Görlitz backyard. He was spotted there in the middle of the day and later caught.

In the future, wolves will be easier on the collar by law. Shortly before Christmas, the Bundestag decided that it would be easier to shoot them down in future to protect sheep and other farm animals from the predator. In the future, shooting will also be possible if it is unclear which wolf attacked a flock of sheep, for example. Wolves may be shot in the area until there are no more attacks - even if an entire pack is killed.

Federal documentation and advice center on the topic of wolf