European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 95–105 | Cite as

The German wildlife information system (WILD): population densities and den use of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and badgers (Meles meles) during 2003–2007 in Germany

  • Oliver KeulingEmail author
  • Grit Greiser
  • Andreas Grauer
  • Egbert Strauß
  • Martina Bartel-Steinbach
  • Roland Klein
  • Ludger Wenzelides
  • Armin Winter
Original Paper


Monitoring the populations of badgers and red foxes may help us to manage these predator species as a matter of wildlife conservation and regulation. To fit the needs of a monitoring programme, the most practicable method has to be selected. Hunting bag statistics deliver large but inaccurate data amounts with low effort. Indirect and also often direct counts might deliver only presence–absence data with high effort. Direct counts with high accuracy are very costly. Den mapping by volunteer local hunters can deliver reliable data on density and additional biological variables while being feasible and cost effective. Within reference areas all over Germany, fox and badger dens and litters were recorded, and spring and summer densities estimated as well as potential annual population increases were calculated for 2003–2007. Habitat preferences for breeding dens were also analysed. Additionally, in 2006, the distribution of badgers was surveyed by a nationwide questionnaire. Fox and badger are distributed all over Germany with some small gaps and regionally differing densities. During the monitoring period, fox and badger densities and reproduction stayed stable, at a high level corresponding to hunting bags. However, densities varied between geographical regions, with lower densities in the sparsely wooded lowland regions. A preference for forest and habitats offering shelter was clear for breeding setts and dens. Badgers especially preferred setts of natural origin.


Monitoring Reference areas Population density Small game predators Management Sett usage 



We would like to thank all involved hunters for the work they did. We thank the hunting associations of the federal states for their support. Additional thanks go to several colleagues all over Europe who helped with literature and comments, especially to T.J. Roper for discussing all the badger questions and an early draft of this manuscript. The four anonymous reviewers helped a lot advancing this manuscript. In memoriam Dr. Heike Nösel, we will keep you in our hearts.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oliver Keuling
    • 1
    Email author
  • Grit Greiser
    • 2
  • Andreas Grauer
    • 1
  • Egbert Strauß
    • 1
  • Martina Bartel-Steinbach
    • 3
  • Roland Klein
    • 3
  • Ludger Wenzelides
    • 3
  • Armin Winter
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute for Wildlife ResearchVeterinary Medicine University of Hannover, FoundationHannoverGermany
  2. 2.LFE, Eberswalde Forestry Competence CentreResearch Institute of the Public Enterprise Forst BrandenburgEberswaldeGermany
  3. 3.Department of BiogeographyUniversity of TrierTrierGermany
  4. 4.German Hunting Association (Deutscher Jagdschutz-Verband e.V.)BonnGermany

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