Sweden, its mammals and all of the smelly evidence
Posted on 3rd February 2019 at 07:14
In Autumn 2018 I started an adventure and moved to Uppsala Sweden, and I am here to do my masters degree. I have written here before but for those who don’t know me I am Andrew Barrett, a recent graduate from Harper Adams University a long-time lover of the nature, of adventures and all things mammal!
Sweden has many attractions for someone like myself; I am here for my education, my subject area is Ecology, specifically I am focusing on animal behaviour with an interest in mammalian predators; Mustellids and Canids are my bag but I’ll play with anything that can bite me. If you check out the terrestrial mammal list for the UK we are a bit thin on the ground for large predators , though it is improving with the increase of pine martens and the spread of otters in our rivers . In comparison Sweden’s predatory fauna is somewhat more extensive. With four Canidae and eight Mustelidae to start,  then add the lynx and the bear to the list, it is somewhat exciting and for my intended research this is a very useful situation to have.
Sweden is also beautiful, it has a large amount of nature and it is available to all! Swedish laws depict how important the nature is to the Swedes, they have written into their laws “Allemansrätten” which translates roughly as “all mans the right” but actually means “Outdoor Access Rights” or “Public Right to Access” . This important right of access gives Swedes the right to explore and enjoy nature almost anywhere that is not disturbing private residents and without damaging wildlife. This includes hiking, skiing, kayaking and camping with a small open fire! So I have taken advantage of this freedom and had a couple of small adventures.
In early October, the weekend before the moose season began I took the train north to Florana Nature Reserve where recent wolf signs had been spotted. I cycled and hiked some way into the reserve to an open cabin left for hikers to use should the need arise. I didn’t see any signs of wolf unfortunately but I did spot this very orange Fox dung and some moose, a cow and last years calf I suspect by the size, hidden safely within the boundaries of the reserve. The wolf signs are reported on the eastern side of the reserve and I was on the western edge, though my first opportunity to start discovering the Swedish predators was close at hand.
The 1st December was when Emil from Biotopia (natural history museum and education centre in Uppsala ) and Per Axel from the county board organised a trip to Glamsen Nature reserve, a forested area less than an hour by train north of Uppsala with a known wolf pack. We hiked 7km in a circular route following main paths in the reserve, and with the enthusiastic eyes of a child scouting ahead we saw many prints and droppings. Within Sweden the Wolves occur in family groups and you don’t tend to find many strangers within a pack. Only the breeding pair of wolves is allowed it defecate on paths and notable areas as these are clear signals marking the territory, the cubs and juveniles are more discrete.
This fantastic day out allowed me to get to meet some of the local Swedish people interested in large predators and practise my tracking skills. Of course within wolf territory you are likely to see much more than just the signs of wolves. These areas that support the wolf pack are biodiverse and home to many animals, we saw moose tracks, boar droppings, wolf tracks and droppings, fox and dog signs and dropping which made for an on the spot lesson in the difficulties of identifying these canids and there was a constant sound of bird song.
Going forward I hope to spend some time this winter using the snow cover to track lynx and wolves in the Uppland area; camera traps recently became legal to use in Sweden with landowner permission so I will be aiming to deploy them, and honing my tracking skills to follow the stories of these magnificent animals day to day life.
Finally, and just to show off, in my excitement to start my next module of animal behaviour in the new year; check out my Lab Coat!!
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