Department of game management and wildlife biology

Spatial activity of game

Science, research and teaching > Spatial activity of game

   We have been dealing with the spatial activity of game at the Department of Game Management and Wildlife Biology for a long time. We track animals using GPS telemetry and camera traps. Wild boar, red deer, sika deer, roe deer, foxes, wolves and lynxes are currently being monitored.

   The method of classical radiotelemetry is used to monitor foxes, in which it is necessary to determine the position of the animal using a VHF signal and subsequent triangulation. This is very time consuming, and data from classical radiotelemetry are not very accurate. For other species, we use GPS (Global Position System) collars, which record the position of the marked animal with an accuracy down to several meters. We do not record their position continuously, but at predefined intervals (generally once every half hour). In cooperation with the University of Swansea, UK, we added biologging sensors to the collars, with which we are able to distinguish the animal's behavior and energy consumption, as well as reconstruct the path between two GPS points. The collars are equipped with a GSM module and contain a classic telephone SIM card, through which this information is transmitted online to our computers. The telemetry team has over 130 GPS collars.

   The data are subsequently evaluated using basic methods such as MCP (Minimum Convex Polygon), Kernel home range, or the environment, reactions to disturbances, etc. are evaluated. 

   In the analysis of the spatial activity of game, we test several important areas: cognitive behavior after animal translocation and the ability of homing (i.e. returning home); the effect of feeding and the availability of natural food; the effectiveness of different types of barriers to spatial activity (electric and odor fences); the affinity of wild boars for carcases in the environment as a potential source of African swine fever virus; the effect of anthropogenic disturbing elements (hunting, tourism, leisure activities, etc.), and many other interesting topics.

Imobilizovaný jelen lesní

Did you know you can meet a chamois in the territory of the Czech Republic?

   This non-indigenous species has a long history in our territory. The first attempts to introduce it occurred as early as 1752 in Křivoklátsko but ended unsuccessfully. The successful introduction, which gave rise to the oldest chamois population in our country, took place in 1907 in today's Czech Switzerland National Park. Over several years, this population was strengthened, but the chamois did not do very well here. To preserve this breed, a new nature reserve was established in the Lusatian Mountains, where the chamois should have a more favorable environment. Here the chamois really thrived, and in 1918 both ranges were opened, and the animals were released. This is how a population of free-living chamois was created, which can still be observed today in the Lusatian Mountains, Elbe Sandstones, and the mentioned national park. The chamois planted here were imported from several regions of the Alps, so they are mountain chamois (Rupicapra r. rupicapra). You can see the cultural impact of chamois in this area at every turn, whether it is the displayed trophies, paintings, names, or even pictograms on the educational boards of Czech Switzerland.

   This population is often overlooked because of the larger and younger population of chamois in Jeseníky, which has been the subject of more debates and is thus better known among people. After a successful introduction in our territory, individuals from the Lusatian Mountains and Jeseníky were even introduced to Slovakia. So you can come across descendants of chamois from the Czech Republic in Slovak Paradise and Velká Fatra!

   Our department is currently dealing with the chamois population in the Lusatian Mountains. The research mainly focuses on the effect of the wolf's (Canis lupus) return and the interaction of chamois with other ungulates. Last but not least, we are also studying the impact of human and especially tourist disturbance on this population.

   If you would like to visit it, remember the principles of proper behavior when observing wildlife. You can very likely run into one of our researchers there.

Behavioral response of wild boars to measures against the spreading of African swine fever

   Within the ČZU, in cooperation with Vojenské lesy a statky ČR, s.p., Ing. Miloš Ježek Ph.D. obtained the research project "Behavioral response of wild boars to measures against the spreading of African swine fever", which is supported by the S&R program for the Ministry of Agriculture II, is being implemented in the period of 2019 - 2023 and focuses on Veterinary Science.

   The aim of the project is to test application measures in the wild boar population implemented in outbreaks of African swine fever with the aim of eradicating the disease. The project will provide both expert scientific data (in the form of scientific articles) and methodological manuals focused on: 1) the system and method of reducing wild boars to minimize spatial activity of local wild boar populations, 2) the system of an artificial increase in food supply to minimize spatial activity, 3) the system and implementation of temporary measures to prevent migration from the outbreak (electric fences, odor fences, sound barriers), 4) compilation and verification of a functional model of active interventions in wild boar populations in order to limit the spread of ASF naturally.

   You can find current results at the following links:


Science-based wildlife disease response

Deathbed choice by ASF‐infected wild boar can help find carcasses

Spatial epidemiology of African swine fever: Host, landscape and anthropogenic drivers of disease occurrence in wild boar

Homing deer

   A new experiment has been underway at the KMLZ Department since 2018, which focuses on the spatial orientation and navigation of large ungulates. Specifically, it is about the translocations of red deer, which take place on the territory of LZ Kladská (LČR, s.p.) and Doupovské hory (VLS, s.p.). The project consists of the deliberate and controlled relocation of deer from their home range to new locations over relatively long distances. Subsequently, using new bio-logging technology combined with traditional GPS telemetry, we monitor whether so-called homing occurs. That is a behaviour in which the relocated individual can return to the original home range with the help of their own senses, navigation. For example, homing is very well known in pigeons but has not yet been described in large mammals, such as deer. The experiment aims to demonstrate the ability to homing of deer, its fidelity to home ranges, and loyalty to the society in which they already have a position. The results also provide us with information on spatial navigation and orientation in the new environment. The knowledge of this project will help deepen the information usable in the management of deer and the basic knowledge of the navigation skills of large ungulates.

Bio-logging technology

The description of the spatial activity of deer or boar has been associated with the Department of Game Management and Wildlife Biology since 2010, when the first animals were marked with GPS collars. However, development and innovation continued in this direction, and since 2018 we have been using bio-logging technologies. Bio-logging technology records detailed information about the life of monitored individuals and especially about their activity. Data on the life of the monitored individual are obtained using an activity sensor, which is in the GPS collars. This device, commonly called the Daily Diary, continuously records accelerometric and magnetometric data, or data and information about the dynamics of movement and orientation in space.

   We can use the obtained data to reconstruct the path of animals between individual GPS positions (Fig. 1 - standard GPS telemetry, Fig. 2 - GPS telemetry + bio-logging), determine individual types of behavior and quantify their timing, energy consumed and orientation towards the cardinal directions. The attached figure no. 3 shows accelerometric data in 10Hz resolution and colour-coded different uses - left = individual types of behaviour, middle = energy expended, right = orientation to the cardinal directions. In the last figure no. 4, you can see the data from the magnetometer, which shows us the orientation of the marked individual to the north (left) and the orientation to the cardinal directions with colour-coded types of behaviour (right).

Efficiency of electric fences

   African swine fever is still a threat to wild boar and domestic pigs. Despite the fact that in 2017 and 2018 the Czech Republic was the first in Europe to deal with this dangerous disease, it is highly likely that it will reappear in the future. One of the measures used in Zlín are electric fences. These are intended to limit the migration and movement of wild boar in the area where the infection occurs. However, testing their effectiveness is difficult. The Department of Game Management and Wildlife Biology uses state-of-the-art telemetric tracking technology with highly sensitive accelerometric and magnetometric sensors, with which we are able to reconstruct the exact path of the wild boar and determine its behaviour. We installed an electric fence at the beginning of summer 2020 in Voděradské Bučiny, where we monitored almost 20 wild boar with GPS collars and the above-mentioned sensors. The electric fence was installed for 1 month. In the pictures you can compare the spatial activity of wild boar before the installation of the fence (Fig. a), where the green, blue and red lines are the trajectories between the GPS points of the monitored wild boar, and the future location of the fence is shown in yellow. Figure b) shows the movement of wild boar at the time when the fence was installed and functional.

Wild boar holiday trip

    During the summer months, we witnessed the interesting trip of a wild boar named Mirek. Mirek is monitored using a GPS collar as part of research into the spatial behaviour of wild boar in the Šumava and Bavarian borders. Mirek was marked on 13 March near České Žleby in the Šumava National Park. He wandered around Stožka, and until mid-July its home district was in the range of hundreds of hectares (600-1400 ha). However, on 28 July he took a trip, and in 2 weeks he traveled through German territory to Austria near the town of Neufelden, which is 58 km as the crow flies from the place where Mirek usually stayed. Here, Mirek settled around a corn field, and it seemed that he would settle here permanently due to he large amount of food available compared to Šumava's poor forests and pastures. However, after about 2 weeks, Mirek set out again, and to our surprise he returned to Stožka again after 4 days. He now lives in the same environment where he was in the previous part of the year. You can read about Mirek on our website or in the Austrian press.

Keiler nach „Wallfahrt“ wieder im Nationalpark

What do wild boar do all day?

     Stories about game behavior and their reactions to various types of stimuli often circulate among hunters, but not only among them. Sometimes they are based on many years of observation and experience, and sometimes on immeasurable fantasy and imagination. Characteristics are attributed to animals that they do not have and never have had, or exceptions that prove the rule are generalized. Sometimes this "knowledge" serves as an excuse for the unwillingness or inability of hunters to do something with the current superstructure of hoofed game. There are various "stories" about different types of game, but it is the wild boar that most often figures in them, such as the willingness to migrate and cover respectable distances in a short period of time.

    Thanks to telemetric tracking, which is based on scanning and recording the exact position of an individual using a GPS system, we have learned a lot about the life of red deer and roe deer in recent years. For example, myths about distant migrations of deer were dispelled, and the belief in the territorial behaviour of roe deer was eroded. Tracking these species using collars with a GPS is relatively easy thanks to the possibility of attaching the collar to their relatively long, thin neck. The collar is easy to fasten, and there is only minimal risk of it getting lost. The situation is different for wild boar, which are built quite differently. Coming up with a system for reliably attaching a module with GPS to a wild boar has not been possible for a long time, but in recent years German company Vectronic Aerospace has succeeded in developing a specially shaped collar that allows use for wild boars. The GPS module located in the collar records the position of the marked individual, and the GSM module sends it via SMS. This makes it possible to track the movement of wild boar "live".

Telemetry wild boar project

The South Bohemian Society for Nature Conservation and Hunting, o.p.s., in cooperation with the Bavarian Hunting Association, has decided to support research into telemetric monitoring of wild boar on the Bavarian-Czech border. It was part of a larger project titled "Game Management in Šumava and the Bavarian Forest", which was implemented by the said partners with the support of the Operational Programme European Territorial Cooperation Objective 3 - Czech Republic – Bavaria. The telemetry part was the responsibility of the Department of Game Management and Wildlife Biology, Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague. The guarantor was prof. Jaroslav Červený, and the coordinator was Ing. Miloš Ježek, Ph.D. It was one of the first projects in Europe to monitor wild boar using GPS technology. The output were answers to questions about the activity of wild boar, migration, and the influence of hunting management (hunting, feeding, etc.) as well as agricultural management on activity and migration, etc. The aim of the whole project was to recommend effective measures to reduce the number of wild boar, minimize damage to agricultural crops and reduce conflicts with human activities.

    The project started with the order of seven collars of different sizes with GPS. The collars are only used for adult animals, as they are no longer growing, so the collar should not significantly limit them. Wild boar were captured in the Šumava National Park (NP) and the surrounding area. Both permanent trapping devices and mobile trapps were used to capture them, which allow relocation according to the current location of wild boar. The vitality of Šumava wild boar is evidenced by the case of the boar that was caught twice in one week but always managed to jump over the wall of the trapping device, which was almost 2 m high.

    In the preliminary results, we found that the activity and movement of all the marked wild boar had one thing in common: they stayed close to where they found food. In five cases this was a feeding device set up by hunters, and in one case a freely accessible enclosure with bulls. All marked individuals concentrated their activity during the winter months only on visits to the feeding area and resting places. Not a single one looked for food outside the feeding area or spent time looking for natural food in the forest or in the meadows. What the hunters offered them was enough to survive the winter.