Wolf activity worries residents near Ķemeri nature reserve

Media reports of wolf activity in communities near the Ķemeri National Park wetlands past Jūrmala on the Gulf of Rīga have made residents panicky, and LTV morning news program Panorāma went out to see what it could learn.

Recent attacks against household pets have been registered in the small towns of Cērkste, Engure, Slampe and Džūkste. No witnesses can account for wolves being definitely responsible, but most experts acknowledge few other possibilities.

Hunter Egils Laukmanis told of a female wolf that dragged a large-sized dog by the scruff of its neck into the woods leaving only its collar and a pool of blood behind.

While such incidents are rare – perhaps one per year – hunters have been raising the alarm about the beginning of a disturbing trend.

“It truly is a problem. I don’t want to call it a catastrophe, but it’s a problem for sure,” Laukmanis said.

He also recalled a previous incident last year when a neighbor’s dog was torn from its chain. “The other neighbor lost one of her calves – these are some serious signals already,” warns the hunter.

Local hunters are convinced the attacks were the wolves of Ķemeri National Park who roamed out of the territory and therefore park authorities should take responsibility.

“Of course the park says – they’re not ours, it happened outside the boundaries of the reserve. But it’s clear that these wolves’ paws stretch outside the park zone,” he concluded.

Ķemeri National Park director Andris Širovs agreed the park administration cannot confine the wolves to its territory as “the wolves are perfectly big enough animals to cross great distances, so therefore we cannot conclusively say that these wolves live constantly in this territory, feed here, or roam in from other places.”

No matter how devastating the attacks are on the owners of the pets and livestock, the numbers truly are quite low. Nevertheless, local governments don’t want to wait until the problem has grown out of proportion.

Engure district council chair Gundars Važa pointed out that the health and safety of human residents are the first priority, and if these animal issues begin to spill out of the National Park territory, “then common sense must prevail and it should be resolved sooner than is usually done around here.”

The Ķemeri park administration promised to prioritize human interests if in three years the number of wolf attacks on surrounding domesticated creatures increases significantly.

 

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