Monitoring the Alpine wolf population news Predator-prey-human activities relationship

Vehicle collision with a collared wolf Jelko

21 February 2022
University of Ljubljana

On Wednesday 17.2.2022, our Italian colleagues from the University of Udine (Prof. Stefano Filacorda) informed us about a wolf -vehicle collision on the main road near Ospidaletto. The dead wolf was fitted with a telemetry collar and it turned out to be Jelko, whose movements have been monitored since 6 November 2020, when he was captured in Jelovica.

Vehicle collision with a collared wolf Jelko - Life Wolfalps EU
Wolf Jelko at the capture in 2020. Photo: Hubert potočnik

At the time of capture, the young male was a member of the Jelovica pack, from which he had started to become independent and had left his parental territory at the beginning of April, at the age of about 11 months. The process of leaving the parent pack and finding one’s own territory is called dispersal. Thus, in early April 2021, the male Jelko crossed the Soča (Isonzo) River and settled in the wider area of Rezia and Breginjski Stol in the border area between Italy and Slovenia. In this area, we monitored his movements and predation success, assisted on the Italian side by colleagues from the University of Udine. During the entire 10-month period between April 2021 and January 2022, we were unable to obtain evidence that he had joined any other wolves. This was also confirmed by the Val Resia Forestry Centre’s own video footage of him.

During the period of the so-called transition territory, he made several attempts to leave the area, as indicated by individual unsuccessful “excursions” to the south, and especially to the west, where the area is crossed by the huge 100 m long Tagliamento River gravel system, along which there are major thoroughfares (expressways, fenced motorways) and a densely populated valley extending from the Po Plain (Gemona) towards Tolmezzo.

Vehicle collision with a collared wolf Jelko - Life Wolfalps EU

The beginning of February is the period when the wolves start to mate, which may be the reason why the wolf has once again tried to leave the area in search of a sexual partner. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful in doing so in a fragmented and anthropogenic landscape. Wolf mortality is relatively high in the early post-nesting period and then during the pupping period, as most wolves never manage to establish their own territory and rear their own offspring. Unfortunately, Jelko confirmed this fact.