According to casual observers, wolves in the Giant Mountains sometimes lack a natural shyness, and authorities are urging caution. “There is not the slightest reason to be afraid. A wolf has never attacked a person in the Czech Republic. During the whole season, there are so many people here that such human bustle drives wild animals into the mountains,” says Miroslav Matas, director of the Grgonos Treetop Trail in Janské Lásne.
Wolves recently appeared far from the footpath near the Hoffmann Baths above Janske Laszne. One of the hikers filmed a pair of one-year-old wolves from thirty meters away. This is the first reliably documented close contact between a human and a wild wolf in the Czech Republic.
Wolves are not taken by the meeting of animal species that have been enemies for ages. One was playing with a lost glove while the other lay quietly. “But it was clear that they were shy. When we wanted to get closer, they ran away,” said a member of the group who watched the wolves for five minutes.
According to conservationists, the wolf pack settled in a triangle bordering the municipalities of Rudnik, Milad Buky and Janske Lasne. According to the Nature Conservancy of the Czech Republic, young wolves must fearlessly repeatedly approach people within thirty to forty meters of several villages in the foothills. “A low level of shyness does not mean that it is a docile and well-bred animal,” warns Králové Hradec vice-governor, veterinarian Pavel Belobradek (KDU-ČSL).
Don’t feed the wolves! Krkonoše defenders appeal
The locals are worried about the dogs. “At least they don’t take them free in the mountains, which they shouldn’t take anyway. An acquaintance told me that his two St. Bernard’s teeth wouldn’t be enough for a wolf’s fangs. I don’t care. I know how a wolf behaves in an encounter. They have it here. It doesn’t surprise me that they like it, I like it here too,” said Ales Kapikar, owner of Janskolassen Boarding House and local representative.
“We have no signal about the negative impact of Krkonoše wolves on tourism,” agreed Janské Lásne Mayor Martin Hdrlik (independent) and Radek Tranny, spokesperson for the Krkonoše National Park Administration.
Close interactions of humans with wolves have not been studied by zoologists. Wolves started to repopulate the Czech countryside a few years ago, and no one dared to guess how the animals would behave in an environment used for economic and tourist purposes. “It is not common for wolves to be seen at thirty meters, so it is necessary to pay extra attention to them. If it turns out that wolves are deliberately searching for the presence of humans, for example they expect food from humans, that would be their dangerous behavior. We are exploring ways to prevent this. We have the means for that. But not a shot,” says wolf expert Miroslav Guttel from Mendel University in Brno.
Farmers from Bryumovsko are demanding regulated shootings of wolves, for which wolves have destroyed livestock in their pastures by the dozens until they better protect their livestock.