The study of large carnivores in Croatia was started by Professor Djuro Huber as a bear research project by the Biology Department of the Veterinary Faculty in 1981. Josip Kusak joined the project as a volunteer student in 1988 and was employed after graduation in 1992. The project was extended to wolves in 1993, first as a public campaign for protection of wolves in Croatia. Critically low number of wolves urged them to establish the “Croatian Wolf Group”, an NGO which carried a wolf conservation campaign. 1994 was the “Year of the wolf” in Croatia, resulting in the change of legal status of wolves from being pest species to fully protected in 1995.
This was not the end, but the beginning of a continuous process.
“Croatian Wolf Group” ceased to exist (its primary goal – change of legal status of wolves in Croatia, was achieved) and conservation related activities (wolf damages compensation programme, promotion of wolf proof livestock husbandry etc.) were carried out by responsible government bodies, while wolf population monitoring and research was performed by the university’s “Large carnivores research project”. Since the very beginning the research was oriented towards wolf conservation, because of numerous questions needing to be answered for a successful wolf conservation programme. Researchers from the project are continuously involved in the process of conservation and management of wolves as well as the other two large carnivore species (brown bear and Eurasian lynx) living in Croatia.
What is the UKWCT funding used for?
The UKWCT has provided funding to the Croatian Wolf Research Project since 2006. Each year the funding is spent on field work. Radio telemetry is one of most powerful means to reveal the relevant biological features of wolves and lynx, and their prey; roe and red deer. The project also continues to gather data from all other available data sources: dead animals, genetics, fresh scats, prey species situation, and contacts with local inhabitants.