Can people make friends with a pack of wolves?

Behavior towards wildlife

We give you tips on how to behave correctly when encountering different species of wild animals. It also tells you what to do if you find an injured animal.

Checklist: Information & tips on correct behavior towards wild animals (PDF)

What are wild animals?

In general, the term wild animal includes all animals that are not tame, domesticated and do not have an “owner”. They occur predominantly in the wilderness of forests, meadows or fields, but some of them also increasingly on the outskirts or even in inner cities.

The larger known native wild animals include, for example, wild boar, roe deer and wolves. But there are also numerous raccoons, brown hares and martens, as well as various species of birds.

Deer and most of the smaller wild animals are very shy and disappear immediately before we humans even notice them and show no aggressive behavior.

General rules of conduct

According to Paragraph 14 of the Federal Forest Act (BWaldG), every citizen has the right to relax in the forest. However, as in all public places, rules must be adhered to. The highest priority is the consideration for the animals, which is guaranteed by the following basic rules:

  • Do not leave marked routes and paths: this is how the animals' rest areas are protected
  • Don't leave any rubbish lying around: it pollutes the environment and animals can get tangled up in it or even eat it
  • It is best to plan hikes through the forest before dark: crepuscular and nocturnal animals can then search for food undisturbed
  • Leash dogs: this prevents them from chasing animals or being seen as prey themselves

If there is actually a close encounter with a wild animal, it is especially important to remain calm. Under no circumstances should you feed the animal. This can lead to the wild animals getting used to the food and demanding food the next time they visit the forest.

You should also refrain from petting the animals. Because even the cutest animals can transmit diseases. In addition, young animals that have been touched by humans are in some cases rejected by their parents or the group, for example rabbits or deer.

Mushroom pickers should also be particularly careful. Avoid venturing into the thicket in search of mushrooms. Animals find shelter there and can be startled by sudden intruders. You can read about how to be considerate of forest dwellers when collecting mushrooms in our mushroom guide.

Be careful in the spring months!

Spring is suckling season and virtually all wild animals are sensitive to disturbance. If you see animals with offspring, do not come too close to them and try to get them quietly but quickly to gain distance.

Encounter with wild boars

Wild boars are active both during the day and at night and have a very pronounced sense of smell with which they can perceive people from a great distance. They are usually very shy and peaceful animals that run away quickly when they notice a person. However, female wild boars (brooks) can display more aggressive behavior in defending their newborns, especially during the suckling period.

If you encounter a wild boar, in any case, stay calm and do not make any hectic movements. It is advisable to move away slowly and calmly.

If it is a brook with freshlings, do not come too close to them and do not stand between the mother and her young. The brooks then usually react with hissing and threatening gestures and can rarely even attack. In this case, too, it is important to remain calm and slowly gain distance.

This is how you should act in the event of an attack

In very rare cases, and only when they really feel threatened, wild boars may attack. Then try to get large obstacles such as trees or rocks between you and the wild boar. You can also escape up a tree in an emergency, as wild boars cannot climb.

Photo: Nataliia_Melnychuk / istock

Beware of injured animals

A similar situation can arise from an injured boar. For example, if they have been hit by a car or shot at a hunter, extreme caution is required. The animal can react erratically in agony and even launch an attack. Do not get too close to the animal and inform the police from a safe distance.

Encounter with wolves

Who does not know them - the fairy tales of the big bad wolf? But unlike in these stories, the wolf is a very cautious and suspicious animal in nature that withdraws as soon as people are nearby. The wolf is a very rare animal in Germany. For years it was considered to have completely disappeared until the first young wolves were spotted again in 2000. There are now over 70 wolf packs and 30 wolf pairs living in Germany (source: NABU), most of them in northeast Germany.

Meeting a wolf in the forest is very unlikely and so far no cases of aggressive behavior are known in Germany. However, should the case arise, it is important to remain calm. Young animals in particular are still curious and may not flee immediately. Then try the following actions:

  • Make yourself big to intimidate the wolf
  • Clap your hands loudly to drive him off
  • In an emergency, throw small light objects

Photo: esmeraldaedenberg / istock

If you have sighted a wolf, contact the responsible wolf management in the respective federal states. Regardless of his behavior, further indications of wolves can be collected in the individual federal states.

Injured animal found - what to do?

Due to accidents with wild animals and hunting, it can happen again and again that animals remain injured or young animals are orphaned. If you find an animal that appears to be in need of help, you should first observe it from a safe distance. Your own safety always comes first, so act wisely. In many cases it was only left alone for a short time when the parents were looking for food.

To avoid the risk of diseases and animal diseases, do not touch the injured or orphaned wild animal. Direct contact with people is also stressful for most wild animals. You react in panic and distraught to human touch and smell. In the worst case, the animal can no longer be integrated into nature after recovery.

To be sure of what to do with a helpless animal, ask for advice:

  • Local animal welfare associations
  • Local nature conservation authorities
  • Forest and hunting authorities
  • Wildlife Aid / Wildlife Rescue
  • Police (for large animals such as wild boar, deer and deer)

In the following exceptional cases, you may i. d. R. help a wild animal:

  • In the event of an injury (e.g. broken wing / leg, bleeding wound) or loss of consciousness
  • If the animal appears weak and emaciated (e.g. recognizable by trembling and a very thin frame)
  • In the case of a young animal that is clearly orphaned (e.g. lying next to the dead mother animal)
  • In an immediate dangerous situation (e.g. on a busy road)

ask for

We recommend that you always consult the above-mentioned offices and only then act and rescue the wild animal.

In this situation, always wear gloves or carefully wrap the animal in a blanket. A basket or cardboard box is suitable for transporting z. B. hedgehogs or birds. Then take the animal to the nearest wildlife sanctuary or a veterinarian as quickly as possible.

Animal treatment costs

As a rule, you have to bear the costs of veterinary treatment yourself. Therefore, a wildlife station is often the better place to go. Here you will find an overview of the wild collection stations by postcode.

Wildlife in the city

Due to milder winters, changes in the food supply and increased population, some animal species have increasingly settled in urban areas. Raccoons, for example, have become particularly widespread, but wild boars, foxes and martens are also becoming more common in cities.

The diverse green areas and gardens are tempting for many wild animals. In addition, there is an abundant supply of feed sources through compost heaps, garbage cans and gardens. But even without natural enemies, life in the city is not an unrestricted paradise for animals. The animals there are more likely to have accidents with vehicles.

Photo: Roenarr / istock

When you encounter a wild animal in the city, the same rules generally apply as in the forest. Since the animals are then more used to humans, they can sometimes behave less shyly. Report sightings of wild animals to the relevant authorities.

Many larger cities have their own wildlife advice centers that can be reached by phone or email. In this way, nature conservation in the city can be better coordinated with the animal world in order to enable peaceful and balanced coexistence.

Occasionally, wild animals can devastate gardens or properties in search of food. Who pays for this damage depends on the insurance coverage and the area. In the case of areas used for agriculture, the owner can report this to the public order office and receive compensation from the hunting association.

In the event of game damage in private gardens, however, hunters or hunting associations are not responsible. Here home and property owners are responsible for adequate protection against wild animals.

Cost coverage through building insurance

Damage to game can usually be covered as an additional service in the residential building insurance.


Meeting a wild animal is, despite the increasing spread of some animal species, a rather rare experience. It is particularly important to leave the animals their habitat and not to disturb them in their natural environment. So walk carefully through forests and always react calmly and prudently if an animal actually shows up in close or far away.

If, on the other hand, you find an injured animal, only remove it from its environment in an emergency and first contact the responsible advice centers for wild animals.

Checklist: Information & tips on correct behavior towards wild animals (PDF)