Wolf encounters

Encounter with a wolf

If you walk or cycle through wolf country, an encounter with a wolf will be rare but cannot be excluded. Wolves are wary towards humans by their very nature. They will thus avoid us even before we have the chance of noticing them. Encounters at a distance of less than 100 m may occur if the wolf has not yet perceived the human due to the prevailing wind conditions, for example.

Once the wolves have perceived the human, they will usually not escape in panic but orientate themselves for a moment and then retreat. Only a few of all the documented wolf sightings in Saxony report of wolves moving towards the human despite having perceived their presence. These were mostly inexperienced, curious, young wolves, or the wolves' interest in dogs or sheep near the humans outweighed their impulse to run away.
What should you do if you encounter a wolf: stay calm and keep a distance between you and the animal. Should the wolf not retreat and the situation make you feel uneasy, speak loudly or clap your hands to show your presence. Do not run away because running may cause a wolf's prey drive to kick in. In the unlikely event that the wolf approaches, stay where you are and make yourself look larger. Try to intimidate the animal. In such an event you should step towards the animal rather than to step back.

Wolves, in the same way as wild boar, are large wild animals capable of defending themselves. Encounter them with respect. Do not try to approach a wolf nor under any circumstances try to attract it to you. Leave the wolf a way to escape. Do not feed wolves and do not give them access to food remnants. The instinctive wariness of wolves towards humans may disappear if humans give them positive stimuli. A problematic or even aggressive behaviour in wolves maybe the result. This would, however, be a lengthy process and would not happen overnight. (Please refer to Fear of wolves for more details.)

This is the reason why it is important to report wolf encounters to the wolf management team. Strange behaviour can thus be recognised at an early stage and steps can be taken to respond to this according to the management plan.
In Saxony, the district administrator's offices, the LUPUS German Institute for Wolf Monitoring and Research and the contact office "Wolves in Saxony" accept such reports.

Encounters between wolves and dogs

Always keep dogs on a lead and/or by your side in wolf country. It may happen that wolves take an interest in these animals of the same species who, from their point of view, are bold enough to mark out the territory as their own. The best protection for a dog is to be near its owner. If a dog is about to encounter a wolf, you should call the dog, bring it to heel at your side, put its lead on and back away. If the wolf does not lose its interest in the dog, you should yell to show your presence and, if necessary, chase it away by throwing things at it. The situation is not dangerous for the dog owner himself or herself. The wolf takes an interest in its domesticated relatives but not in the humans.

Most of the dogs in wolf country will never directly encounter any wolves. Even if they were to, they are usually near their owner whose presence protects them. Encounters between wolves and dogs need not necessarily be aggressive. It may even happen that a wolf and a dog mate.
The wild offspring from such a mating (hybrids) can pose a serious species conservation problem. Hybrids of wild and domestic animals must be removed from nature for species conservation reasons to prevent the domestic animal genes from spreading in the wild population. This is all the more necessary for a small population such as the Central European lowland population which is still in the process of establishing itself. The hybridisation risk, however, decreases with the increasing number of wolf packs in the Central European lowland population and with the number of wolves migrating from other, even remote areas. Every year the packs give birth to young wolves who are then available as potential mates to the young wolves from other packs.

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