Another elk dies in a traffic accident in south Bohemia. The second case this year

2017 - 06 - 21
Another elk dies in a traffic accident in south Bohemia. The second case this year

Scientists and conservationists are sounding an alarm bell. Another elk died in a traffic accident on the roads in the southern part of the Czech Republic. The animal lost its life on a road towards the Austrian border. The vehicle hit the creature as it crossed the road, on Sunday between midnight and 1 a.m. Scientists who monitor the last remaining stock of elk in the Czech Republic published the information today.

“We contacted the Czech Ministry of Transport once again, requesting that a traffic sign “ATTENTION ELK CROSSING” be installed, a measure we initiated on selected roads in south Bohemia two years ago. As it turns out, the implementation is more than necessary,” said Dalibor Dostal, director of the conservation organization European Wildlife.

“The repeated collisions of cars with elks, as well as sightings of the animals reported to us by drivers, all clearly shows that in the foothills of the Sumava Mountains it is high time to start informing drivers of the presence of these animals with a special traffic sign,” added Miloslav Jirku from the Biological Centre of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.

This is the second case this year; on March17th, around six o’clock, a driver hit a female elk near Lipno. The animal also did not survive the collision in this case. Last June, two more elks died due to stress in Brno as the result of a failed capture of migrating animals. Scientists estimate that there around two dozen elks in the Czech Republic. Four of them have died in the last year alone.

“The number of elks that unnecessarily die due to human activity is truly alarming. If the estimates of the size of the Czech population are correct, then only in the last 12 months we have lost a fifth of elks found in this country,” Jirku said.

In the territory of the Czech Republic, elk disappeared between the 12th and 15th centuries. The reason for the extinction of the local population in the Middle Ages not only in our territory, but also throughout Central and Western Europe, was mainly hunting. Any return of the species in later periods was prevented by a number of changes in the landscape caused by man, be it draining wetlands, changing vegetation, transforming woods and arable land into poor monocultures on a large-scale, or habitat fragmentation through roads and built-up areas.

In the latter half of the 20th century, elks began to return to the Czech Republic. In 1957, the first elk was recorded in the surroundings of Usti nad Labem, but was poached shortly thereafter. In the early 1980s, the total population of elk in Bohemia was estimated to be between 30 and 50. However, since the 1990s, numbers in the Czech Republic have been in decline again. Three micro-populations have disappeared, while the numbers of animals in the remaining two populations have been decreasing. Currently, not more than some 15 to 20 animals exist in the country. In addition to poaching, road accidents in particular threaten the elk.

Photo: Karel Eibl

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