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Camera Traps on Wildlife Crossing Structures as a Tool in Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) Management - Five-Years Monitoring of Wolf Abundance Trends in Croatia.


ABSTRACT: The conservation of gray wolf (Canis lupus) and its coexistence with humans presents a challenge and requires continuous monitoring and management efforts. One of the non-invasive methods that produces high-quality wolf monitoring datasets is camera trapping. We present a novel monitoring approach where camera traps are positioned on wildlife crossing structures that channel the animals, thereby increasing trapping success and increasing the cost-efficiency of the method. In this way we have followed abundance trends of five wolf packs whose home ranges are intersected by a motorway which spans throughout the wolf distribution range in Croatia. During the five-year monitoring of six green bridges we have recorded 28 250 camera-events, 132 with wolves. Four viaducts were monitored for two years, recording 4914 camera-events, 185 with wolves. We have detected a negative abundance trend of the monitored Croatian wolf packs since 2011, especially severe in the northern part of the study area. Further, we have pinpointed the legal cull as probable major negative influence on the wolf pack abundance trends (linear regression, r2 > 0.75, P < 0.05). Using the same approach we did not find evidence for a negative impact of wolves on the prey populations, both wild ungulates and livestock. We encourage strict protection of wolf in Croatia until there is more data proving population stability. In conclusion, quantitative methods, such as the one presented here, should be used as much as possible when assessing wolf abundance trends.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4915698 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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