Today we said farewell to the Slot 2 participants at the train station in Kralovany. It’s a wet, rainy day and would not have been good for transect walks anyway, as the rain has washed away much of the remaining snow, making tracks hard to find. This emphasises how lucky we have been with the weather over the last week: Although we have had no fresh snow, the snow from the previous week has remained on the higher slopes in the valley and enabled us to collect important data.
Samantha, our youngest participant at 13, from the USA, has managed to find wolf tracks on each day she has been out. This should provide plenty of inspiration to pursue a potential career as a wolf biologist in the future. Yesterday we also found fresh lynx tracks in the Jabalinska side valley, the tracks headed off down a ridge in one direction while an older set of tracks from a wolf pack were heading up the ridge. Tomas installed a camera trap at this great location and we have a further four camera traps installed in the valley, which will be left in place for another month and then collected by Tomas to add to the dataset collected on this year’s expedition.
Thanks to all our participants’ hard work this year, we have walked a total of 460 km on 33 transects through 26 survey cells (each cell is 2.5 x 2.5 km). In total we recorded 32 wolf signs, 5 lynx signs and 4 bear signs. We also collected 5 wolf scats and 1 wolf urine sample, which will be DNA-analysed to confirm our suppositions. In addition to the large carnivores, we recorded tracks of pine marten, badger, otter, squirrel, stoat, wild boar, red deer and roe deer. Sightings included roe deer, red deer, black woodpecker, three-toed woodpecker, nutcracker, dipper, rose finch, hazel grouse, raven, golden eagle, buzzard, fire salamander and red squirrel.
Phil and Paul will spend the rest of today packing up the equipment and Tomas is on his way back to Bratislava with all the samples and datasheets, which will be carefully analysed before the final expedition report is produced later in the year. We hope that everyone has a safe journey home and hope to see some of you again on future expeditions. Once again many thanks for your dedicated efforts in the collection of scientific data and for your time and money contributions, which have made the whole expedition and science work possible. Dovidenia, until next time!