An encounter with the wolf in German forests is rare. If you do encounter the wild animal, there are a few things to consider.
Kassel – It was demonized for a long time and was considered extinct – since 2000 it has been back: The wolf in Germany is native again. So every now and then it can happen that people or animals meet a wolf. But how do you behave in such a situation? Here is an overview of what you need to know.
Wolf encounter: 161 packs live in Germany
The survival of wolves is not yet considered certain in this country, but there are now 161 wolf families living in Germany's forests, according to the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (Nabu). Most of them are mainly in the north and east of the country.
Influenced by fairy tales and horror stories, however, the image of the "bad" wolf still lingers in the minds of many people today. At the same time, we do not count at all in the prey scheme of the animal. Rather, wolves have specialized in ungulates, especially deer and wild boars, Nabu wrote. Basically, wolves are rather shy towards humans. Since his return, there have been no aggressive encounters with people.
A wolf was recently spotted in the Kassel region. In the Schwalm-Eder district, too, a wolf is apparently roaming, which unsettles residents and farmers. So are wolves becoming a danger to people in Germany?
Wolf in Germany: How to behave during an encounter
It may seem frightening, but sightings of wild animals are not a cause for panic at first. "Most of the time, wolves avoid humans even before they have noticed them," said the Federal Ministry for the Environment and Nature Conservation. A direct encounter between wolves and humans is therefore very rare. If you do meet your four-legged friend, there are a few things to consider, according to Nabu:
- Keep calm, keep your distance and give the wolf the opportunity to retreat
- Don't run away, but stop and watch
- Never attract, touch or chase the animals
- Never feed a wolf
If the wolf does not retreat immediately, it can be easily scared away, according to Nabu. This works by talking to the animal loudly, clapping its hands or making yourself big. In the case of young animals, it could look a little different: they are more curious and may dare to get closer to humans. However, the encounters do not lead to a panicked escape of the animal, "but the wolf usually withdraws calmly and deliberately," says Nabu. Encounters with the animal can be reported to the respective federal states.
How do you behave when wolf and dog meet?
And how do you behave when you encounter wolves with your dog? According to the Federal Ministry, wolves can still communicate with dogs, so they may consider them conspecifics. This can lead to "misunderstandings" because dogs don't behave like wolves.
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If a person ever encounters a wolf, there are a few things to consider. The important thing is not to run away and stay calm. © Willi Rolfes/imago
The ministry advises: Dogs should be leashed in wolf areas and close to their owner. "The proximity of its owner is the best protection for the dog," it said. If there is an encounter, you should call your dog to you and slowly retreat – with eye contact with the wolf. If the wild animal continues to show interest in your four-legged friend, you should draw attention to yourself by making loud noises.
Wolf sightings near settlements are not uncommon
The fact that wolves sometimes roam past settlements and roads is not unusual, Nabu explained. "With an average territory size of 200 km², it stands to reason that villages, roads and farmsteads can also be located in the middle of the wolf territory." In the Werra-Meißner district, one or more wolves have killed an entire flock of sheep near a village. (kas)