How do wolves move over motorways?

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How do wolves move over motorways?

By Tomos Williams

Wolves have been hunting in Europe for millennia. The development of motorways has left asphalt scars that tear through their natural ranges.

Using land bridges gives wolves and other animals the opportunity to cross motorways safely, decreasing the frequency of conflict between animals and humans.

A gray wolf crosses a wildlife bridge in Croatia

 A gray wolf uses a land bridge in Croatia (Photo: Šver et al)

Researchers in Croatia capitalised on the funnelling effect land bridges have on wildlife movements by setting up camera traps.

A wolf pack crosses a wildlife bridge

A wolf pack crosses a wildlife bridge (Photo: Šver et al)

They monitored wolf populations in six locations for a total of six years and captured 317 camera trap photos of wolves. Estimates of the population are at their lowest since 2005 in Croatia despite the abolition of a legal cull in 2013.

Wildlife bridge in Croatia (Photo: Gužvica et al)

Wildlife bridge in Croatia (Photo: Gužvica et al)

The research group has gone on to create a NGO – Bioterra, Association for Research, Photographing and Conservation of Croatian Natural Heritage – to continue their conservation work.

Wolf photographs credited to Šver et al. (2016), Camera Traps on Wildlife Crossing Structures as a Tool in Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) Management – Five-Years Monitoring of Wolf Abundance Trends in Croatia.