People can register their observations of wild animals in Baden-Württemberg’s cities and towns via a web portal
Wild animal have long known that human settlements provide an outstanding place to live, with a steady food supply, a milder climate, excellent cover, and few enemies. And so it happens that humans and animals often meet. If you are in Baden-Württemberg and you find a raccoon behind your garbage bins, have a hedgehog on your terrace at night, or meet up with a fox on your way home – you now have the opportunity to report your observation on the web portal www.bw.wildenachbarn.de. Wild animal sightings, tracks, fox dens and badger sets, as well as the location of dead animals, can be entered onto a map. If you are able to take a photo of what you observed, you can upload it and look at the images posted by other users.
“Wild neighbors” is part of a project sponsored by the Ministry for Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, “Wild animals in inhabited areas of Baden-Württemberg,” run by the University of Freiburg Chair of Wildlife Ecology and Management. The web portal is run in collaboration with the StadtNatur association. With this initiative, Baden-Württemberg is following in the footsteps of cities such as Vienna, Zürich, and Berlin (www.berlin.StadtWildTiere.de), where people have been able to register animal sightings for some time and where the move has been positively received. Under the “Citizen Science” principle, ordinary people gather data which helps researchers get a picture of the distribution of the various species in inhabited areas. That makes it possible to draw conclusions about interaction hotspots – places where humans and wild animals meet particularly often. This knowledge can be useful for future wild animal management – to prevent conflicts. By calling on citizens to take part in scientific research, the researchers are helping to raise awareness and even enthusiasm for the issue. That is especially important to the team at a time in which the human connection to nature is fading.
Along with the option of registering animal sightings and conflicts, the website also offers comprehensive information on various species, as well as tips on the best ways of observing them.
Geva Peerenboom or Fanny Betge
Wildlife Ecology and Management
University of Freiburg