As wolves (Canis lupus) recover in Poland, their depredation on domestic animals is increasing, as have conflicts between wolves and farmers. From 1998 to 2004, I investigated spatial and temporal patterns of 591 verified incidents of wolf depredation in the eastern part of the Polish Carpathian Mountains. The wolf population I surveyed covered an estimated range of 4,993 km2. Depredation occurred over 1,595 km2 of that area. Sheep accounted for 84.8% of domestic animals killed by wolves. Depredation on sheep and number of sheep farms attacked by wolves increased between 1998 and 2004 (r2 = 0.61, P = 0.04 and r2 = 0.89, P = 0.02, respectively). The number of wolf attacks on sheep farms in a given year were negatively correlated to red deer (Cervus elaphus) population numbers (R2 = 0.69, P = 0.02). The amount of depredation caused by each of the 4 monitored packs was best explained by farm density in their territories (R2 = 0.59, P = 0.004). Number of attacks recorded on farms was positively correlated to distance from the farm to the pack's den and rendezvous sites (R2 = 0.16, P = 0.04). Of depredation recorded in the 4 pack's territories I surveyed, 77% occurred in 4 farms with no or inadequate protection. I concluded that wolf depredation in the studied area is opportunistic. Wolf predation intensity is a function of decreasing abundance of red deer, the density of sheep farms, and proximity of farms to the summer activity centers of wolf packs, and it is facilitated by poor husbandry practices. These results can aid in preventing wolf depredation and provide a foundation for a wolf management plan.
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Vol. 72 • No. 1