According to casual observers, wolves in the Giant Mountains sometimes lack natural shyness, and the authorities call for caution. “There is not the slightest reason to panic. A wolf has not yet attacked a person in the Czech Republic. During the full season, there will be so many people here that such a human commotion will drive the wild animals higher into the hills,” says Miroslav Matas, director of the Krkonoše Treetop Trail in Janské Lázně.
Wolves recently appeared not far from the hiking trail near Hoffman’s Baths above Janské Lázně. One of the mountaineers took a picture of a pair of possibly one-year-old wolves from a distance of thirty meters. It was the first reliably documented close contact between a human and a wild wolf in the Czech Republic.
Wolves were not taken aback by the meeting of animal species that had been enemies for ages. One was playing with a lost glove, the other was lying quietly. “But it was clear that they were shy. When we wanted to get closer, they ran away,” added a member of the group that watched the wolves for about five minutes.
According to conservationists, the wolf pack settled in the triangle bounded by the municipalities of Rudník, Mladé Buky and Janské Lázně. According to the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic, young wolves should have repeatedly approached people at a distance of thirty to forty meters near several villages in the foothills without fear. “A reduced level of shyness does not mean that it is a tame and domesticated animal,” warns the deputy governor of Králové Hradec, veterinarian Pavel Bělobrádek (KDU-ČSL).
Don’t feed the wolves! the Krkonoše conservationists appeal
Local people are worried about the dogs. “At least they won’t be taking them for free in the mountains, which they shouldn’t anyway. An acquaintance told me that the teeth of his two St. Bernards would not be big enough for wolf fangs. I don’t feel worried. I know how to behave in the event of an encounter with a wolf. The fact that they like it here doesn’t surprise me, I like it here too,” stated the owner of the Janskolažen boarding house and local representative Aleš Cabicar.
“We have no signals about the negative impact of Krkonoše wolves on tourism,” agreed the mayor of Janské Lázně Martin Hudrlík (independent) and the spokesperson of the Krkonoše National Park Administration Radek Drahný.
Close contacts of humans with wolves have not been studied by zoologists. Wolves began to repopulate the Czech countryside a few years ago, and no one dares to guess how the beasts will behave in an environment used for economic and tourist purposes. “Wolf sightings at thirty meters are not common, and therefore it is necessary to pay extra attention to them. If it turns out that wolves seek the presence of people purposefully, for example because they expect food from humans, it would be their risky behavior. We are looking into ways to prevent this. We have the means for that. But not a shot,” says wolf expert Miroslav Kutal from Brno’s Mendel University.
Farmers from Broumovsko demand a regulated shooting of wolves, for whom the wolves decimated the livestock on the pastures by the dozens until they could better secure their herds.
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