In the forest district of Dobrzejewice, animals were counted. The forest was combed piece by piece by forest rangers in collaboration with local hunting associations.
Dust clouds rise over the small clearing. It involves a dozen off-road vehicles that stop when exiting a forest road. It’s strange that so many fit in such a small space among the pines. Three or four people get out of each vehicle. From head to toe in green colors, soaked in forest litter and slightly excited. Some people wear reflective vests that make them visible even from a distance, through the trees.
– How many did you count? one of them asks. In his hand he holds a piece of paper on which he writes something.
– Poor today, three deer from my side – hears in response from the approaching dark man. As he approaches, he places his hand on the trunk of the SUV. There are already a few hours on the road and there is a lot of work ahead of us. All around you can hear the slight buzz of suddenly interrupted conversations.
– Attention! Now let’s go to that square – that of the notes points with a pen at the trees to its right.
After a while, the dust rises above the clearing again. When it descends, the trail of the offroaders is gone.
He knew his part of the forest like his own pocket, though he had lost his way more than once. Navigating in the field was made easier by a chessboard placed on a forest map and acting as a kind of GPS on a smartphone. It divided the forest area into squares, named by forest rangers’ divisions, each of which had its own number. This allows forest rangers to determine which sector they are in and to send the fire brigade to the right place in the event of a fire. This time they had to use it so as not to miss any part of the forest.
He looked at the phone out of the corner of his eye and drove the car down a forest road. Be careful as he knows the forest can take its toll on an untrained driver. This year he has already ended up with a mechanic twice. You have to consider the roots in the forest. As a forester, contrary to appearances, he spent a lot of time in the car. Huge space of 20 thousand. hectares of the Dobrzejewice forest area cannot be controlled on foot. And when you stop looking at trees from behind the glass, you don’t just look at them with passion and pleasure. There is work to be done. Friends of working among trees are jealous.
– Because you walk in the forest all day – they say.
Oh, another forest ranger myth.
Today they count the game. Professionally, it is called a large-scale game inventory. It is divided into squares and each of them is checked in turn. It is important to be on time with everything in one day, as long as the animals do not have time to move. Then the count should be restarted.
– The inventory is used to keep statistics and monitor the dynamics of population development and migration – explains Sylwester Tułodziecki, forest inspector of the forest district of Dobrzejewice.
There are several ways to count in books. This time it was decided to use the test rushing method. Each square of the chessboard is placed successively on two sides. The group on one side begins to walk to the other side, chasing the prey. The second group stands and watches, looking for an animal walking out of the area being inspected.
The onrushing line moves and makes noise, startling the prey. Everything that has run out is listed, although it is not always possible to count it accurately. A frightened deer moves at high speed and likes to live in flocks during this period (swarms are also called deer herds – ed.). You count to nineteen, and after them… you know there were seven or eight more,” the ranger adds.
There was a paw print on the damp ground. Distinctive, oval shape. A little more round than a dog’s. Foresters call such tracks clues. In all those years in the woods he had seen such a print more than once. But he had never seen a wolf with his own eyes. This is generally a skittish animal. He shuns man like fire. But today counts. Maybe we can see him today.
In the area of the Dobrzejewice forest district, wolves were even seen in the 1990s. Their population increased slightly after 1998, when they were placed under protection. At the moment there are 3 packages that came from the vicinity of Masuria. They use large rivers to settle in new areas. In this region, Drwęca is such a migration corridor.
Wolves have specific moves – they lace. One of them always leads the way, the others follow him. Each subsequent puts its paw where the path has just left the first – path to path. After the tracks you can get the impression that only one was walking.
– Under special circumstances, a wolf may attempt to enter the premises. For example, it is a feeling of threat, also caused by hunger. However, in our area such a case has not been registered – says Sylwester Tułodziecki. – Such situations are certainly more common in southern Poland, where the wolf density is too high and the food base is depleted, although there are also isolated incidents. There is no wild boar that the wolf likes, no deer, deer stocks are slowly dwindling and the number of wolves is growing. The natural drive of any species is to maintain it. Under favorable conditions, the population grows. And then people search for food on human farms.
Sylwester Tułodziecki, Forest Inspector of the Dobrzejewice Forest District.
Nature in its simplicity is brutal. The stronger will always win. And confrontation is not difficult.
– The wolf also sees the domestic dog as competition. The dog is genetically descended from a wolf, and the wolf in the dog sees a different kind of predator. It’s a competition for him, which evokes a sense of threat, explains the forest inspector. – All species strive to dominate in their own way. There is also competition within the species. Deer flocks and roe deer owls do not enter each other’s territory. The same goes for wolves’ watts.
A deer cut the passage between the trees. The third to leave this issue and probably the last. The reflective vests of speeding men are already looming between the trees.
“I won’t see the wolf today,” he muttered under his breath.
About a dozen cars rolled into the clearing in the woods. They just came back from the last square. The man with the paper fills in the last table. Everything should be added up later, but not today. Tired they get into cars and after a while the roar of engines is heard. Dust rose over the clearing. When he fell, the wolf showed his fangs.