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Spatiotemporal Segregation of Wolves from Humans in the Białowieża Forest (Poland)

Jörn Theuerkauf, Włodzimierz Jȩdrzejewski, Krzysztof Schmidt and Roman Gula
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 67, No. 4 (Oct., 2003), pp. 706-716
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3802677
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3802677
Page Count: 11
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Spatiotemporal Segregation of Wolves from Humans in the Białowieża Forest (Poland)
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Abstract

Knowledge about the impact of human activity on the behavior of wolves (Canis lupus) is important to predict habitats suitable for wolf recolonization and for planning management zones. We tested the hypothesis that wolves live spatiotemporally segregated from humans. From 1994 to 1999, we radiotracked 11 wolves in 4 packs and monitored human activity in the Białowieża Forest, Poland. Wolves avoided permanent human-made structures (settlements, forest edge to arable land, roads, tourist trails) more in the day than at night. Wolf avoidance increased with increasing human use. Particularly large settlements and intensively used public roads reduced the area used by wolves. Wolves avoided human presence in the forest (traffic, forestry operations) by temporarily selecting areas where people were absent. One of the wolf packs selected a national park zone with restriced access (50 km2) as the core area of its home range in both day and night. Conversely, wolf packs living in a commercial forest with small nature reserves (≤4 km2) did not select reserves in the day or night. We concluded that spatiotemporal segregation is an adaptation of wolves to coexist with humans while keeping their activity pattern optimized toward food acquisition. The distribution of areas with restricted human access, forest, settlements, and intensively used public roads are important factors determining the suitability of an area for wolves.

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