Across much of Europe, wolves had been heavily persecuted for attacking livestock. They were wiped out in Germany during the 19th century. However, in the 1980s and 1990s, new European laws protected wildlife and habitat, setting the stage for their recovery. And in eastern and southern Europe, abandoned farmland meant fewer people and more deer for wolves to hunt. In the late 1990s, wolves began to dart into Germany from the forests of Poland. They’ve since spread westward into six more of Germany’s 16 federal states, and monitoring data show their numbers are rising. Wolves are an impressive success story for wildlife recovery in central Europe, bouncing back from near extermination in the 20th century to a population of several thousand today. And in Germany, where communities have been growing by 36% per year, military bases have played a surprisingly central role in helping the animals reclaim habitat, a new analysis finds. “What is remarkable is that the military areas acted as a stepping stone for the recolonization — and were far more critical than civilian protected areas in the early stages of recovery,” says Guillaume Chapron, a wildlife ecologist at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, who […]

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