Europaen Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus citellus) Re-introduction in Kotel Mountain

The European Ground Squirrel (Suslik) (Spermophilus citellus) is a Globally threatened species (IUCN Red List) that faced rapid decline in population in XX century. In Kotel Mountain the species disappeared in 1990-ies due to habitat degradation based on lack of grazing.

After the year 2000 FWFF started livestock management programme and sheep farms were established in Kotel Mountain. The area of Urushki Skaly was managed through optimal grazing of livetsiock and thus perpared and restored as habitat for the Susliks.

In 2011 the first 57 suslicks were translaocated from the area of Sliven to the area of Urushki Skaly near Kotel and released in specially digged holes in the ground.

In the spring of 2012 FWFF team discovered that there are Susliks that succesfully overwinter in the area. Later even the first reproduction was noticed. This encouraged our team and in July 20012 another group of 56 Suslicks was released in the same area in a neighbouring plot.

We are gratefull to our colleagues from Green Balkans for logistics and methodology support they provided to us in this action.

An unvaluable expertise was received also by Vladimir Stefanov, Biology Faculty of Sofia University.

Nature Conservation Organisation in Bulgaria