Many different goals and situations need to be addressed in wolf population management. The project develops tools for building action plans and impact forecasts.
Population management ensures that wolves remain part of Finnish wildlife. Wolf population management is no simple matter. For example, the wolf population is affected directly by nutrition and indirectly by people’s attitudes. Then again, wolves also affect their own environments. Population management needs to address many different views.
Modelling tools use information provided by specialists and research data to calculate the probability of different population management situations. These tools help the authorities to weigh up different population management measures.
Two modelling tools will be built in the LIFE BOREALWOLF project
The management strategy evaluation (MSE) tool helps the game administration to foresee any changes in the wolf population and evaluate different consequences of population management measures. These measures include for example the prevention of losses by using fences, the removal of one of more wolves and driving wolves away from built environments.
The tool can indicate, for example, the probability of decreasing production and domestic animal losses caused by wolves if new fences are built in a specific area. Furthermore, the tool can calculate the impact of any changes in the wolf population on the elk population and losses of domestic animals.
The MSE tool will be used especially in multi-species population management. Wolves affect populations of ungulates, such as elk and deer, while populations of ungulates affect the wolf population. This causality is so complex and multi-faceted that it is difficult for people to understand it without the help of computers. The MSE tool helps to evaluate the connections and impact of different measures more effectively, quickly and transparently.
Prototype of MSE modelling tool in English (drive.google.com, zip-file), updated in 26.8.2021
The modelling tool for authorities shows the movement of wolves on a map and forecasts where the risk of illegal measures directed at wolves is the highest. Illegal measures include the injuring or illegal killing of wolves. The risk of illegal measures is naturally the highest in areas where wolves live. In addition, any previous illegalities and tips received are taken into account in risk assessments. The tool will be used by the authorities, helping them to improve the effectiveness and targeting of monitoring measures.
Development together with stakeholders
The results produced by the MSE tool are largely affected by the themes and material that the tool takes into consideration. This is why the tool is not built by coders alone.
The LIFE BOREALWOLF project will invite representatives of game administration and stakeholders to define the challenges the tool needs to address. As a result, the MSE tool will be useful for everyone working with wolves, from the authorities to hunters and animal farm advisors.
Schedule and outcomes
In 2020, representatives of the game administration and different stakeholders working with wolves will be invited to develop the MSE tool. The development of the tool for authorities will also begin.
During 2021 and 2022, both tools will be developed and tested. The tools will be developed on the basis of testing results and feedback.
During 2023, both tools will be deployed. The MSE tool will be tested in a few selected elk population regions. Feedback will be collected on deployment, and how the tools support population management will be monitored. The tools will be developed further on the basis of feedback collected during the project.
During 2024, scientific publications and general articles will be written of the tools.
After the project, the modelling tools will support wolf population management so that decision-making can address, for example, people’s attitudes, losses and populations of ungulates in more various ways.
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Cover photo: © Vastavalo / Pentti Sormunen