The Wolf Intelligencer


Latvia – Latvija


Wolves in National Parks and Protected Areas
Slītere National Park | Slīteres nacionālais park

Gray Wolf (Canis lupus)
Eurasion Wolf (Canis lupus lupus)

Population Statistics [900?]
iedzīvotāju statistika

Legal Status; Game species with some protection?
juridiskais statuss

Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional
Latvian State Forest Research Institute – Silava
Ķemeri National Park – Territory – Dabas aizsardzības pārvalde
Action Plan for Grey Wolf Canis lupus Conservation and Management

Latvian Fund for Nature
Pasaules Dabas Fonds Latvia

News Resources & Publications
ziņas resursi un publikācijas
(Search Term – vilki Latvijā)

jaunākās ziņas

Wolf and Wildlife News from Latvia – Latvija

Journal Articles

Attitudes of the General Public and Hunters Towards Wolves in Latvia; Its Predictors and Changes Over Time. Žunna A, Bagrade G, Ozoliņš J.InProceedings of the Latvian Academy of Sciences. Section B. Natural, Exact, and Applied Sciences. 2020 Aug


A survey was carried out to determine the attitudes of the general public and of hunters towards wolves (Canis lupus) in Latvia. Today wildlife conservation depends on effective management practices; however, these are often influenced by public opinions and attitudes. Our aim was tounderstand the causes behind these attitudes and to compare our results with previous researchdone in Latvia. Questionnaires were distributed through schools and hunter organisations. The at-titudes of both the general public and hunters were mostly neutral or positive. Older people and women were generally less positive. Respondents with less positive attitudes were more likely tosay that wolf numbers in the country should be decreased. Significant associations between attitudes, beliefs of wolves causing damage and financial losses and what should be done with wolf numbers in Latvia were found. Three attitude predictors were established.

Bucking the trend in wolf-dog hybridization: first evidence from Europe of hybridization between female dogs and male wolves. Hindrikson M, Männil P, Ozolins J, Krzywinski A, Saarma U. PLoS One. 2012 Oct


Studies on hybridization have proved critical for understanding key evolutionary processes such as speciation and adaptation. However, from the perspective of conservation, hybridization poses a concern, as it can threaten the integrity and fitness of many wild species, including canids. As a result of habitat fragmentation and extensive hunting pressure, gray wolf (Canis lupus) populations have declined dramatically in Europe and elsewhere during recent centuries. Small and fragmented populations have persisted, but often only in the presence of large numbers of dogs, which increase the potential for hybridization and introgression to deleteriously affect wolf populations. Here, we demonstrate hybridization between wolf and dog populations in Estonia and Latvia, and the role of both genders in the hybridization process, using combined analysis of maternal, paternal and biparental genetic markers. Eight animals exhibiting unusual external characteristics for wolves – six from Estonia and two from Latvia – proved to be wolf-dog hybrids. However, one of the hybridization events was extraordinary. Previous field observations and genetic studies have indicated that mating between wolves and dogs is sexually asymmetrical, occurring predominantly between female wolves and male dogs. While this was also the case among the Estonian hybrids, our data revealed the existence of dog mitochondrial genomes in the Latvian hybrids and, together with Y chromosome and autosomal microsatellite data, thus provided the first evidence from Europe of mating between male wolves and female dogs. We discuss patterns of sexual asymmetry in wolf-dog hybridization.

Food habits of the wolf Canis lupus in Latvia based on stomach analyses. Žunna A, Ozoliņ J, Pupila A. Estonian Journal of Ecology. 2009 Jun


The diet of Canis lupus in Latvia was studied from December 2001 to April 2008 based on analyses of 165 stomachs. Wild ungulates (cervids and wild Boar) were the main food of the wolves. Cervids were found in 64.7% of the samples (69.7% of the biomass), wild Boar in 25.9% of the samples (22.6% of the biomass), and beavers in 8.6% of the samples (6.4% of the biomass). The average mass of stomach contents was 824.1 g. Empty stomachs made up 26.7% of all stomachs. Statistically significant differences were found comparing variances of stomach content biomass between 1ñ2-year-old and adult animals and also in beaver remains in the diet of male and female wolves (12.9% and 3.2% of the stomach content biomass, respectively). There were no other significant differences in the diet composition, stomach content biomass, and percentage of empty stomachs among age groups, between sexes, and between eastern and western parts of Latvia. Interpretation and implications to wolf conservation policy based on the given results are suggested

Helminth parasites of the wolf Canis lupus from Latvia. Bagrade G, Kirjušina M, Vismanis K, Ozoliņš J. Journal of helminthology. 2009 Mar


Thirty-four wolves were collected between 2003 and 2008 from throughout Latvia and examined for helminths. A total of 17 helminth species were recorded: the trematode Alaria alata (85.3%); the cestodes Diphyllobothrium latum (2.9%), Echinococcus granulosus (2.9%), Echinococcus multilocularis (5.9%), Mesocestoides lineatus (5.9%), Taenia crassiceps (8.8%), Taenia hydatigena (41.2%), Taenia (ovis) krabbei (8.8%), Taenia multiceps (47.1%), Taenia pisiformis (20.6%), Taenia polyacantha (11.8%), Taenia spp. (8.8%); and the nematodes Ancylostoma caninum (2.9%), Crenosoma vulpis (9.1%), Eucoleus aerophilus (36.4%), Pearsonema plica (41.4%), Trichinella spp. (69.7%), Toxocara canis (5.8%), and Uncinaria stenocephala (41.2%). Alaria alata presented the highest mean intensity (403.8). All animals were infected with at least one species of parasite, while the maximum recorded in one specimen was eight. No differences in the intensity or prevalence of any helminth species were found among the host based on age and gender, except for T. multiceps which was more prevalent in adults than in juveniles.

Estimation of carrying capacities of large carnivores in Latvia. Kawata Y. Acta Zoologica Lituanica. 2008 Jan


The purpose of this study is to estimate the carrying capacity (K) of the wolf and lynx in Latvia using time series data of the estimated population size and number of harvests from 1958 to 2005. We modified the Schaefer model by adding a lag operator. First, we performed the unit root test. In this study, all the time series data are stationary, indicating freedom from spurious correlation. We set both the lag value and estimation period (starting year changed from 1959 to 1968) and searched for the best model based on Akaike information criteria (AIC). The results indicated that τ = 3 is the best value and the estimated value of K is 1,066–1,092 individuals for the wolf, with the starting year changed from 1959 to 1968. For the lynx, we could not select the value of τ the estimated value of K was stable and determined as 971–1,188 individuals.

An analysis of the game animal population data from Latvia. Kawata Y, Ozoliņš J, Andersone-Lilley Z. Baltic Forestry. 2008 Jan


Large carnivores such as the wolf (Canis lupus)and the lynx (Lynx lynx) have never been eradicated in Latvia and their numbers particularly increased from the early 1970s onwards, which brought some conflict between the large carnivores and human interests. Therefore, it has always been a challenge for both gamekeepers and conservationists to reveal relationships between ungulates and large carnivores as well as to figure out relevant implications for their management.The purpose of this paper is to reveal the above-mentioned relationships using statistical data. Fortunately, statistics on the abundance and hunting bag size of some game species in Latvia have been collected since the early 20th century.The study uses these data to examine four types of relationship within the period 1958 – 2005: (1) prey-prey relationships between the population estimates of moose (Alces alces), red deer (Cervus elaphus), Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus),wild Boar (Sus scrofa), (2) predator-prey relationships in the above four ungulate species, wolf and lynx; (3) relationships between the estimated numbers of wolf and lynx; (4) relationships among hunting bags in some of the species listed above. We applied unit root test to check if our statistical results suffered from the spurious correlation. We used regression analysis (dynamic OLS and generalized least square) to reveal statistical findings and examine them from the ecological point of view in order to check the validity of our results. Our statistical results suggest that (1) For the red deer, Roe deer is a competitor and vice versa. For the Roe deer, moose is also a competitor in addition to the red deer. For the moose, red deer is a competitor. (2) For the wolf, red deer, Roe deer and moose are prey whereas for the lynx, only Roe deer is prey. (3) For lynx, wolf is a competitor, but for the wolf, lynx is not. (4) The elasticity of hunting with respect to population size is 2.55%, 0.91%, 2.14, 0.42% and0.82%, for Roe deer, red deer, moose, wolf and lynx, respectively. Most of the results are consistent with empiricalfindings from the field.

[PDF] Action Plan for Grey Wolf Canis lupus Conservation and Management
J Ozoliņš, A Žunna, A Ornicāns, G Done, A Stepanova…


Today, the wolf is recognized as an integral part of wildlife, and in many countries, under favourable legislation and improvement of ecological conditions, this carnivore has begun to recover after centuries of persecution. Excepting islands, wolves are found in all European regions, recently even entering Benelux. Currently there are 10 grey wolf populations in Europe. Wolves found in Latvia belong to the so called Baltic population. In Europe, all wolf populations have developed as a result of natural dispersal, because there have been no reintroduction attempts of wolves in Europe. At the European level, the grey wolf is a threatened species. According to the Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats, wild fauna and flora, Latvia has the so-called geographical exception – the wolf is included in Annex V, which means that individuals can be obtained, but the state must provide a favourable population status, monitor the species and prohibit the hunting techniques listed in Annex VI of the Directive. In Latvia, the wolf is listed among the specially protected species whose use is limited. According to the criteria of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the species in Latvia and within the Baltic population as a whole corresponds to the category of ’least concern’. In accordance with the report of Article 17 of Directive 92/43/EEC in 2013, the species status (population size, distribution, amount of suitable habitats and future prospects) is deemed favourable in Latvia. Available information on species history shows that wolves in Latvia currently have the widest distribution over the last 50 years. The purpose of the renewed Action Plan for Grey Wolf Canis lupus Conservation and Management in Latvia (referred to hereafter as the Action Plan) is to maintain a favourable status for the wolf population in Latvia for an unlimited period of time and to promote the maintenance of a favourable status of the Baltic wolf population without specifying the maximum number of individuals and habitats, while ensuring the presence of wolves as a united and functional component of the wildlife environment in man-made and managed landscapes, respecting and promoting the quality of life and wellbeing of a diverse society. The updated Action Plan maintains a regional perspective and emphasis on conservation measures in Latvia in relation to the situation at the Baltic population level, as well as paying attention to the kinship structure and genetic indices. The Action Plan describes actions and measures required to ensure the conservation and management of the species in legislation, species research and data collection, information, education and training, as well as organizational and planning actions.

Winter diets of wolfCanis lupus and lynxLynx lynx in Estonia and Latvia. Valdmann H, Andersone-Lilley Z, Koppa O, Ozolins J, Bagrade G. Acta Theriologica. 2005 Dec


inter diets of wolfCanis lupus Linnaeus, 1758 and lynxLynx lynx Linnaeus, 1758 in Latvia and Estonia were investigated in 1997–2000 based on stomach contents of hunted animals and scats. Ungulates appeared to be the staple food for both predators. Lynx diet to a high extent consisted of cervids (Estonia 52% frequency of prey, Latvia 88%), Roe deer dominating. Mountain hareLepus timidus made up from 9% (Latvia) to 31% (Estonia) of the lynx diet, and red foxVulpes vulpes 7% in Estonian sample. Wolf diet was more diverse; besides cervids (44% in Latvia, 63% in Estonia) it included wild Boar Sus scrofa (32% in Latvia, 17% in Estonia), carrion, small rodents, and other food items. Proportion of empty stomachs was high both in wolves (37%) and lynxes (35%) in Latvia. Range of stomach content weights varied from zero to more than 4 kg in wolves and almost 1.5 kg in lynx. Pianka’s indices of food niche overlapped significantly between species and countries (0.85–0.99).

Public perception of large carnivores in Latvia. Andersone Ž, Ozolinš J. Ursus. 2004 Nov


Knowledge of and atittudes toward brown bear (Ursus arctos), lynx (Lynx lynx), and wolf (Canis lupus) in Latvia were assessed through surveys. Brown bears are rare and protected, whereas lynx and wolf are game species. Questionnaires were distributed in public schools and to a self-selected sample of readers of a national hunter’s magazine. The Latvian public generally supported large carnivore conservation. Among the 3 species considered, the most positive attitudes were toward brown bears. Negative attitudes were a result of real or perceived effects large carnivores have on livestock husbandry and game management. Nearly 70% of respondents thought protection of bears should be continued, whereas 24% of respondents supported control of bear populations. A majority of respondents believed that wolf and lynx populations should be controlled, but very few respondents supported total eradication of large carnivores in Latvia. A greater proportion of rural inhabitants favored control of carnivore populations than residents in other locales. In contrast, hunters (n = 157, almost entirely male, mostly rural, and somewhat older) favored unlimited harvesting of large carnivores. Most respondents expressed interest in obtaining more information on large carnivores, suggesting a role for an expanded education campaign.

Food habits of wolves Canis lupus in Latvia. Andersone Ž, Ozoliņš J. Acta Theriologica. 2004 Sep


Diet of wolvesCanis lupus Linnaeus, 1758 in Latvia was studied from 1997 to 2001 based on 302 scats and 107 stomachs. Wild ungulates (cervids and wild BoarSus scrofa) and beaverCastor fiber were the dominant prey. Cervids were found in 50% of samples (62% biomass), wild Boar in 25% (21% biomass), beavers in 14% (12% biomass). Wolves selected for wild Boar, especially in winter when its ratio in the diet increased to 34% from 20% in summer. It was a more common prey species in the east of the country. The ratio of beavers, small rodents and plant food was higher in summer, which resulted in a broader food niche in summer than in winter (B = 2.53 versus 1.81, respectively). The role of domestic animals in the wolf diet was minimal except for winter when they were consumed as carrion (13%). More than 1/3of all stomachs investigated were empty. The average weight of stomach contents was 972.8 g. The importance of the beaver as an alternative prey is discussed. We conclude that wolves in Latvia prey mainly on wild animals and conflicts with livestock owners are only occasional and/or local.

Wolf (Canis lupus) diet in Latvia: seasonal, geographical and sexual variations. Andersone Ž. Acta Zoologica Lituanica. 2003 Jan

Hybridisation between wolves and dogs in Latvia as documented using mitochondrial and microsatellite DNA markers. Andersone Ž, Lucchini V, Ozoliņš J. Mammalian Biology-Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde. 2002 Jan


Crossbreeding between wolves and dogs in the wild has been sometimes reported, but always poorly documented in scientific literature. However, documenting frequency of hybridisation and introgression is important for conservation of wild living wolf populations and for the management of free ranging dogs. Here we report the results of molecular genetic analyses of 31 wolf samples collected in Latvia from 1997 to 1999, including six pups originated from a litter found in northern Latvia in March 1999, and six wolves showing morphological traits that suggested hybrid origin. Nucleotide sequencing of the hypervariable part of the mtDNA control-region and genotyping of 16 microsatellite loci suggested that both pups and the morphologically anomalous wolves might originate from crossbreeding with dogs. Causes of wolf-dog crossbreeding, as well as possible management effort to avoid further hybridisation in the wild, are discussed.

Status and management prospects of the wolf Canis lupus L. in Latvia. Ozoliņš J, Andersone Z, Pupila A. Baltic forestry. 2001


Historically, wolves in Latvia were considered as a pest to be exterminated by all possible means. To assess the impact of unlimited persecution, wolf demography was studied between 1998 and 2000 by collecting samples from harvested animals. Laboratory examination of ovaries and uterus was used to determine if a female was in reproductive condition. Placental scars, swelled post-birth sites in uterine horns or fetuses were counted. The skulls were collected and the age of harvested wolves was determined by counting the number of incremental lines in the tooth cement. The main demographic indices are the following: sex ratio – 1:1.3 (n=84); the average number of embryos per female wolf – 6.0 (n=10; SD=1.89). The ratio of young wolves in the hunting bag is smaller than expected taking into account the fertility of females. Unlimited hunting is believed to have a reflection in the age and sex structure of the wolf population. Certain suggestions concerning sustainable wolf management with presumably lesser impact on population structure such as closed hunting during the breeding season and for a legally prescribed opportunity to close the hunting comprehensively after appointed hunting bag is reached, are given.

Craniometrical characteristics and dental anomalies in wolves Canis lupus from Latvia. Andersone Z, Ozolins J. Acta Theriologica. 2000 Dec


A total of 187 skulls (115 adult males and 72 adult females) of the wolf Canis lupus Linnaeus, 1758 hunted in Latvia between 1975-1999 were measured, using 19 craniometrical parameters. General cranial characteristics were similar to those described from the wolf populations of Belarus and Poland (the difference was not statistically significant). Sexual dimorphism in skull size was determined. Most of the skull parameters from north and east Latvia appeared to be slightly larger than those from the Kurland Peninsula, being isolated by large cities, rivers and deforested lands. Also, anomalies in tooth formula were described. Deviations from the normal tooth pattern were found in 9.5% skulls. Congenital oligodonty and polydonty was found in 7.9% skulls. Polydonty was observed in 71.4% cases of tooth anomalies. Tooth anomalies were more common in males than in females.

Beaver: a new prey of wolves in Latvia?. Andersone Ž. InBeaver protection, management, and utilization in Europe and North America 1999


The number of wolves in Latvia increased from 230 in 1985 to 997 in 1997. At the same time the population of wild ungulates declined significantly. The aim of this study was to examine the food habits of wolves in different seasons and to determine the ratio of wild ungulates in the diet. It is of special interest because no such study has ever been conducted in Latvia. Forty-one scats and 13 stomachs of hunted wolves were collected in the winter and summer of 1997. Scat analysis followed standard procedures. Microscopic analysis of hair was used to identify mammal species. Cervids (Elk, red deer, Roe deer) were not specified separately. Occurrence of particular food items (F%) and biomass of the prey consumed (B%) were calculated. In winter, the wolf diet consisted mostly of cervids (ca. 60%), wild Boar, and livestock consumed as carrion. In summer, the ratio of cervids in scats was lower (48.5 F% and 31.4 B%) than it was in winter due to a more variable food content. Based on biomass beaver was the most important food item in summer (30.3 F% and 36.1 B%), followed by cervids, and wild Boar (18.2 F% and 30.1 B%). Other food items (small mammals, birds, berries etc.) were of little importance. Thus, wild ungulates are the basic food for the Latvian wolf population in the both seasons. However, the sudden increase of beaver in the summer diet suggests switching by wolves to a more available prey during the depression of the ungulate populations.

Summer nutrition of wolf (Canis lupus) in the Slitere Nature Reserve, Latvia. Andersone Z. InPROCEEDINGS-LATVIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES 1998


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