News from yesterday suggests a wolf famously rescued in February from the icy waters of Pärnu river has now gone missing. The Environment Board has dispatched an expert to ascertain the last known location of the animal.
The news broke from the social media account of Conservative People’s Party MP Peeter Ernits. “The most famous wolf in Estonia and probably the whole world has been killed. The young wolf, rescued near the Sindi dam, warmed back to life in a construction workers’ van and later equipped with a GPS tracker was just shot in East Viru County,” the politician wrote.
Ernits told Postimees that his sources have confirmed the fact. “An operation to ascertain all the circumstances is underway,” he added. The MP said the wolf was shot close to the Sirtsi bog, near the border of East Viru and West Viru counties.
The environmental agency confirmed that the wolf’s GPS collar has failed to transmit a signal for about a week, which is why chief specialist of the board’s wildlife department Marko Kübarsepp traveled to West Viru County yesterday to get to the bottom of what has happened.
“The only fact we have today is that the collar is no longer transmitting, and we’ve lost the signal. Until we have found either the collar or the animal itself, I would refrain from speculation of what could have happened to it. We lack evidence to draw concrete conclusions at this time,” the agency quoted Kübarsepp as having said.
If the wolf or the collar is found and evidence suggest the animal was killed illegally, the agency promises to take further steps. The search for evidence is underway.
West Viru County hunter Jüri Selter does not believe the wolf has been shot. “I believe it is unlikely as hunters don’t just go around killing wolves,” he said. Selter also ruled out poaching. “Poachers are after meat, which is something wolves have very little of. Poachers want moose, not wolves,” the hunter explained.
“We take the MP’s claim very seriously, but it is too soon to blame anyone, including hunters at this time,” said Tõnis Korts, executive manager of the Estonian Hunters Association. “Should the suspicion prove true, it would be a serious breach of hunting ethics that all law-abiding hunters condemn,” he added. “We are interested in ascertaining the fate of the wolf and prepared to cooperate with state agencies and other organizations,” Korts said and added that the association will also question its members.
The wolf hunting season ended on February 28 this year. Hunters were allowed to shoot up to 85 wolves this season. No special permits for wolf have been issued.
The East Police Prefecture has contacted the Environment Board over the issue and will decide whether to launch proceedings after it receives a reply. Officers have not questioned anyone in connection with the report at this time.
Three construction workers rescued a young male wolf they initially thought was a dog near the Sindi dam in February. The animal in shock was taken to an animal clinic after the men warmed it up in their van.
There, the wolf that weighed just 32.5 kilograms was fitted with a GPS tracker. Such a tracker should report the animal’s location 24 hours a day. Veterinarians also took a gene sample and cleaned the wolf of parasites.
A few days after the young wolf was released in Pärnu County, information from the tracker suggested it had plotted a course for Rapla after going around Central Estonia for a while. From there, the animal headed toward Lake Peipus before returning to Central Estonia and moving on to West Viru County.
The extraordinary story of a connection between men and a wolf made international news headlines. BBC News ran it as a recommended feature that became the most read article of the day.