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Šumava park offers new visitors’ centre focusing on wolves

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Srni, West Bohemia, Oct 30 (CTK) – The new visitors´ centre that the Czech Sumava National Park (NPS) opened near Srni on Friday and that focuses on wolves, may attract dozens of thousands of people a month, NPS director Pavel Hubeny told CTK.

The centre is the third of its kind in Sumava, after centres devoted to owls and deer, which were previously opened in the NPS.

The new centre, unique in Europe, includes an energy saving building, wolf paths and enclosures, instructive panels and also a 300-metre-long wooden observation bridge situated four metres above the ground.

The project cost 72 million crowns, 90 percent of which has been covered from EU money, Hubeny said.

The local wolf pack, a small one for the time being, lives in a three-hectare enclosure.

“If I were a wolf, I´d definitely choose this place to live in. There is everything here, both a thick and a sparse forest, clearings as well as numerous rocky caches,” said Jiri Kec, the new visitors centre´s head.

In Sumava, the visitors´ centres are very popular with tourists. The centre with owls is annually visited by 70,000 people and the centre with deer has been visited by dozens of thousands since its opening in August, Kec said.

Of the three centres, the wolves may be the most attractive, said Environment Minister Richard Brabec, who attended the opening ceremony Friday.

NPS managers brought in a pair of wolves from a Czech and a German zoo, respectively, in February. On May 25, the female gave birth to four offspring, one female and three males, and the wolf family fares well, Kec said.

He said the wolves do not hunt prey but have been fed by venison.

The visitors´ centre offers a special facilitated access to disabled and wheelchair-bound people.

The wolf used to be a common species in the Sumava mountains, which spread along the southwestern borders with Austria and Bavaria. The last wolf from the original population was killed in 1874. Only individual specimen have appeared there now and then since.

Hubeny did not conceal his desire for the wild wolf population to reappear in Sumava. However, the idea of releasing the young wolves from the visitors´ centre to the wild is unfeasible for now, as it would require a thorough debate first, he said.

Kec said the centre in Srni is unique in Europe and has already been visited by the managers from the Bavarian Forest, the adjacent national park in Germany.

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