While wolves were absent from the Czech Republic at the turn of the century, packs have been returning to the country in recent years.
The first wolf pack was spotted by conservationists four years ago in the forests surrounding Máchovo jezero (Lake Mácha) in the Liberec region.
Since then, an additional five packs of wolves have been confirmed at other locations around the country: one in the Krušné hory mountain range, another in Bohemian Switzerland, and three more near the northern Czech border with the Saxony region of Germany.
In the Šluknov region by the German border, the spread of wolves was monitored by specialists from the Czech University of Agriculture along with German colleagues during a three-year research project. Their collected data included 71 photos and 31 pieces of genetic evidence of wolves in the region.
According to conservationists, a new instance of wolves was recorded every month.
Since the creation of the Czech Republic in the 1990s, wolves were thought to be completely absent from the country. The first wolf was spotted on camera in the country 2012, and evidence of the first pack a few years later.
Last year, young wolves were captured playing on camera in the Máchovo jezero area:
Might the wolves make it to Prague?
“We can not predict where they settle, and are still surprised,” the Czech University of Agriculture’s Tomáš Jůnek told iDnes.cz.
“Who would, for example, assume that the first wolf pack will settle in Máchovo jezero, where half of Czechs spend their holidays? They can appear anywhere. But if they get to Moravia, or if they will settle in Brdy and then get to the edge of Prague, I can not tell you.”
While the appearance of wolves in the Czech Republic is welcomed by many, including conservationists, some warn that because they have no local predators their numbers could spread quickly if not controlled.
Across the Czech Republic, the few wolf packs feed primarily on red and roe deer, and to a lesser extent wild boars, muflon, and fallow deer.
In a some cases, however, attacks on livestock have been reported. The Czech Ministry of Finance reimbursed local farmers 790,000 crowns for wolf attacks in 2017, a number that most agree should be raised.
New laws regulating the coexistence of wolves and humans are expected to enacted in both the Czech Republic and Germany in the coming years. In Saxony region, on the Czech border, a total of 13 wolf packs have been recorded in recent years.