Large Carnivore seminar november 2018
An incredibly productive week was had by students from Wiltshire College and University Centre attending the November seminar.
The start of the week was blessed with clear blue skies whereby the students made the most of the opportunity by climbing Mt. Romanka giving great views over to the nearby Tatra range. All the while observing tracks from Ungulates such as Red Deer, Roe Deer and Wild Boar. The final task was set to collect memory cards from camera traps for reviewing later that evening.
The subsequent days were spent out in the field tracking and carrying out field work. One day the students were fortunate enough to track the pack that occupy the Żywiecki Beskidy Mts. range for approximately 15 kilometres. This eventually lead them to a fresh wolf scat, which was able to be processed and sent away for genetic analysis.
Students also observed lynx tracks across two transects with one particular example being across an open meadow traversing straight across fresh wolf tracks. This giving a perfect opportunity for close comparison due to a flurry of snow which came down the evening before.
Pine Marten, Fox and Golden Eagle were also observed along with an incredible sighting of a Montagu Harrier a first that has been observed in the area for a number of years. Students were also tasked with using GPS systems in the field and the principles behind radio telemetry with an opportunity to practice their skills.
Approximately 70 kilometres of transects were covered during the seminar during the week each day gaining indirect evidence including hair, scats, tracks and other species specific identifiers. Each evening lectures took place focussing on large carnivores and current conservation efforts in Eastern Europe. This enabling students to gain a firm understanding of the ecology, anatomy and behaviour of the animals in focus.
The week was rounded off with a skull and dentition workshop. This gave the students the opportunity to identify skulls of large carnivores and ungulates with the aid of dichotomous keys. They were then required to age specific examples using dentition markers providing a fantastic learning opportunity which undoubtedly is useful in the field.
The group were then taken up to a nearby meadow centred between two valleys under Mt. Romanka during early evening to Wolf Howl in an attempt to gain a response. Unlucky they were on this occasion; however, the group was treated to a truly incredible spectacle whereby the evening mist settled atop the Norweigan Spruce and the full moon was out in force. We are sure this will be a truly memorable experience for them on their premier visit to the Western Carpathians and one in which was filled with field signs from our ever-elusive European Carnivores.