Wolf expert Per Ahlqvist and helicopter pilot Ulf Grinde were invited in the Mercantour National Park in the French Alps to try to capture wolves. The method used by Grimsö Wildlife Research Station for the Swedish-Norwegian Wolf Project (Skandulv) to capture wolves is unique in Europe. First, with the help of snow tracks a team on the ground localizes the wolf. Then the helicopter team comprising a pilot, a darter and a tracker tries to follow the tracks, locate the animal and dart it. When the wolf is asleep, the team can then land and put a GPS collar on the animal.
This method has now proven successful also in the rugged and alpine landscape of the Mercantour in France. The Grimsö Wildlife Research Station experts were able to dart the alpha female of a targeted pack at 2500 m level. The animal weights 33 kg and the whole marking process went very well.
This capture is a major achievement for the research program “Predators – Prey” coordinated by the Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage in collaboration with the Centre National de Recherches Scientifiques, the Fédération Départementale des Chasseurs des Alpes-Maritimes and the Parc national du Mercantour. This program is intended to provide new insights into the impact of wolf predation on wild ungulate populations. Previous attempts to capture wolves in France had proven very difficult but the method used by Grimsö Wildlife Research Station proved successful. Since 1998, Grimsö Wildlife Research Station has successfully captured wolves with helicopters more than 150 times. During the next few weeks, Grimsö Wildlife Research Station experts will use their expertise to mark wolves in Finland.
The Grimsö Wildlife Research Station is a research unit from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences performing research on predators, ungulates and their interactions with ecosystems and people. Founded 37 years ago, it has since been delivering major insights on wildlife ecology in Sweden and has served as reference point of authorities.