TalTech’s geneticists started to analyse wolf DNA to estimate the Estonian wolf population
The aim of the study, which will finish by autumn, is to estimate the number of wolves before and after the hunting season.
At the request of the Environment Agency, TalTech geneticists will analyse tissue samples from and stools of hunted wolves as well as saliva samples taken from sheep killed by wolves.
Hundreds of samples collected across Estonia will be analysed. Different specimens can be identified from the high-quality samples and then, they can be counted. ‘Most of the samples are stools. However, it is the most difficult to obtain DNA from stools – the DNA in the sample may be decompose due to adverse weather conditions,’ said Professor Erkki Truve, Head of the study. Blood samples from dogs are used to exclude wolfdogs.
A wolf caught on a trail camera in February whose excreta will probably be analysed
Photo source: Estonian Environment Agency
The analysis is a part of the Environment Agency’s project ELME (‘The tools necessary for evaluating, forecasting, and ensuring data availability of the state of the environment of biodiversity related to social economy and climate change’), co-financed by the European Union Cohesion Fund and the Environmental Investment Centre foundation.
According to the data of the Environmental Board, 60 out of the 65 permitted wolves were hunted in the last hunting season in Estonia, and seven wolves were hunted under a special permit. In 2013, the wolf was chosen as the animal of the year in Estonia and in 2018, as the Estonian national animal.