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Selected Publication:

Type of publication: Diploma Thesis
Type of document:

Year: 2014

Authors: Musil, Tanja

Title: Der Einfluss des Wolfes auf Rotwild an Fütterungen - Erfahrungen aus anderen Ländern und Prognose für Österreich.

Other title: The influence of wolves on red deer at feeding stations - experiences from other countries and forecast for Austria

Source: Diplomarbeit, Vet. Med. Univ. Wien, pp. 46.

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Musil Tanja

Walzer Christian

Knauer Felix

Vetmed Research Units:
Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology

Graduation date: 28.03.14

Recently, wolves are becoming more and more common in Austria, due to immigration from neighboring countries. This is raising concern among certain stakeholders regarding wolves’ influence on red deer. Austria has a unique approach to red deer management through systems of supplementary feeding and winter enclosures. Sizes of feeding stations vary to feed several up to hundreds of animals. Feeding stations are mainly used to bind red deer to certain areas, to increase winter survival rates, improve trophy quality and protect the forests from massive damages. Feeding stations are common throughout Austria, while winter enclosures are maintained only in certain areas. All these measures enable managers to maintain red deer densities that exceed Habitat carrying capacity. To answer the question of wolf influence within these management systems, to give a forecast of possible wolf influence in Austria and recommendations for actions, a comprehensive literature overview was made. Additionally, 20 questionnaire supported expert interviews with hunters, foresters and scientist in two neighboring countries with wolf-presence, namely in Eastern Germany and Slovakia, were conducted. My results indicate that wolves will influence red deer behavior concerning vigilance, flight distances, temporal and spatial use of land, group size and feeding behavior. This in turn could influence human hunting strategies and occurrence of damages. In conclusion of my results, wolves are not likely to cause long-term disturbance in red deer populations, including at feeding stations, provided they do not confine animals to a limited set of areas. This could be achieved by offering many stations distributed throughout the habitat. Alternatively by creating red deer densities closer to natural levels would alleviate pressure on damages. Because of change in behavior, e.g. vigilance, nocturnal activity, flight distance etc., human hunting strategies will have to be reevaluated.

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