Eero Nõmm, acting head of the Pärnu County hunting association, told his office on Tuesday (March 20) “I won’t be in today”, and was gone. A wolf hunt was on, the kind of which even veteran hunters cannot recall.
A early morning message from Vaskrääma reported that wolves had again killed a dog in a farm. It was clearly a case of killing for food.
Nõmm put together a tracking party, which followed the wolves’ tracks to learn where they hide in daytime. They did not have a wolf hunting license at that time.
“The nature helped us with fresh snow so that we could be 100 percent certain: it was the same pair of wolves, which had killed the dog”, Nõmm said.
With the support of the Environment Agency they appealed to the Environmental Board to issue an emergency permit for wolf hunt, which usually takes a couple of days to be processed. But since the hunters had found the tracks of the animals and it was clear that they are dealing with animals, which had long ceased to fear humans, Aimar Rakko, head of the Environmental Board hunting and hydrobios office, decided to speed up the process. The license was signed and mailed to the hunters by the same afternoon. Now it was no longer about tracking but a full-scale hunt.
Hunters hurried up from Sindi, Tori, Surju, Kullipea, Lõpe and even from Lihula, where they are still listed as Western County hunters, but consider themselves responsible for Pärnu County after joining it. More than 40 hunters showed up.
The trackers had found out that the wolves were hiding in a copse in Kikepera near the shooting range. The area was surrounded with flags, which the wolves dare not cross.
The two wolves were caught and shot before dark. “One was a 5-6-year-old male the other a 2-3-year-old female; we shall know better after lab results come back”, said Nõmm, who organized the hunt. “The male showed clear signs of mange”.
Nõmm was grateful to the Environment Agency and the Environmental Board, which issued the hunting license at a record speed, as well as the hunters, who had shown up on a working day. “I am quite certain that we caught the right wolves and the villages can now be safe”, Nõmm said. “It is really serious if wolves start killing canine members of your family right in the front yard”.
It became clear on Wednesday that the female wolf shot in the Surju hunting area the day before may have been innocent of killing the dog in Vaskrääma village.
Marko Kübarsepp, a game monitoring specialist of the Environment Agency, said that the female wolf had been carrying a radio transmitter, the recordings of which together with tracks found in the killing sites exonerated the animal.
“The battery of the radio transmitter of the monitored wolf had lost power in mid-January, but according to yesterday’s tracks, she had not attacked the dog and probably not eaten it either,” Kübarsepp explained. “The killer was the male. It is actually unclear why the female wolf was with him”.
According to the specialist, the wolves causing havoc in Vaskrääma had come from a pack of eight, which had scattered in November after the female went missing.
Hunters have killed some older members of the pack since the attacks on dogs this winter. “If some cubs remained of the pack, they have probably moved elsewhere”, Kübarsepp said.
A wolf shot in Pärnu County on March 9, again with extraordinary license, was suspected of having attacked dogs. “I cannot say whether or not they shot the wrong wolf then, because that animal moved in the exactly same area, where dogs had been attacked,” Nõmm said. “Wolves have always lived in the Vaskrääma-Tammuru-Kullipea-Kikepera forests, but I cannot remember them forcing they way into households that brutally”.
Hunters in Pärnu County know that five or six dogs have been killed at farmhouses this winter, all more or less in the same area. The death of three dogs has been officially determined as caused by wolves; the other incidents have not been reported to the Environmental Board or the Environment Agency,