The Acceptance of a New Breeding Male Into a Wild Wolf Pack
Stahler, Daniel ; Smith, Douglas ; Landis, Robert, Canadian Journal of Zoology, 80 (February 2002): 360-365 (6 pp)
The acceptance of an unfamiliar male wolf (Canis lupus) into a wolf pack after the recent death of the pack's alpha male was observed and filmed at close range in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, U.S.A. A 2½-year-old dispersing male from a neighboring pack was accepted as a new pack member over the course of a 6-h interaction. This observation involved stereotyped behaviors and canid body posturing in association with dominance/submission, play solicitation, and courtship. Although documented before via radiotelemetry, this interaction marks the first direct observation of a wild wolf pack accepting and incorporating a strange wolf as a breeder and pack leader.
Adaptive Management to Reduce Coyote Introgression into the Red Wolf Genome
Beck, K.B.; Beyer, A.B.; Fazio, B.B.; Fuller, T.K.; Gese, E.M.; Hedrick, P.W.; Kelly, B.T.; Knowlton, F.F.; Lucash, C.F.; Murray, D.L.; Waddell, W.T.; Waits, L.P.; Stoskopf, M.K., World Wolf Congress 2003.
A population and habitat viability assessment conducted in 1999 identified the major obstacle to recovery of the red wolf (Canis rufus) in the wild as introgression of coyote (Canis latrans) genes into the red wolf genome. An adaptive management plan using sterilized animals as a buffer to introgression and geographic zones of gradated management intensity was developed to mitigate the impact of coyote/red wolf interactions. The objective for the most intensively managed zone (zone 1) was to maintain the zone free of coyotes or hybrids through active removal. All terrestrial access to this core zone would require transit through a research zone (zone 2) where tubally ligated or vasectomized non-wolf canids served as space holding buffers in areas not occupied by red wolves. The outermost zone (zone 3) represented territory beyond the capacity of intensive management. Active trapping, radio collars to support land based and aerial telemetry, and genetic analysis of scat surveys were among the tools used to assess the genomic integrity of the zones from 1999 to 2003. Intensive data management using advanced GIS technology has allowed timely adaptation of management, contributing to success. Since implementation of the adaptive management plan, it has been possible to manage zone 1 as a coyote-free zone. It has also been possible to increase the size of zone 1 and expand zone 2 management practices to a larger area. The use of sterile, hormonally intact non-wolf canids is proving to be a useful management tool.
Adult Cow Elk (Cervus elaphus) Seasonal Distribution and Mortality Post-Wolf (Canis lupus) Reintroduction in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Evans, S., Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2003 Annual Report
As part of a three-tiered study, "Multi-trophic level ecology of wolves (Canis lupus), elk (Cervus elaphus), and vegetation in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming," seasonal distributions and movements of elk will be examined to evaluate the behavioral effects of wolves on elk and establish baseline data for future analyses. Individual elk radio-locations will be paired with wolf radio-locations to establish the proximity of elk to wolves. Comparisons of individual differences in cow elk distribution will be investigated with respect to several variables including: age, presence of calf, pregnancy status, nutritional condition, group size, spatial and temporal factors, and wolf density. In addition, a survival analysis will provide information on relative factors influencing mortality of cow elk in Yellowstone's Northern Range herd.
Alpha Status, Dominance, and Division of Labor in Wolf Packs
Mech, L., Canadian Journal of Zoology, 77 (August 1999), 1196-1203 (8 pp)
The prevailing view of a wolf (Canis lupus) pack is that of a group of individuals ever vying for dominance but held in check by the "alpha" pair, the alpha male and alpha female. Most research on the social dynamics of wolf packs, however, has been conducted on non-natural assortments of captive wolves. Here I describe the wolf-pack social order as it occurs in nature, discuss the alpha concept and social dominance and submission, and present data on the precise relationships among members in free-living packs, based on a literature review and 13 summers of observations of wolves on Ellesmere Island, Northwest Territories, Canada. I conclude that the typical wolf pack is a family, with the adult parents guiding the activities of the group in a division-of-labor system in which the female predominates primarily in such activities as pup care and defense and the male primarily during foraging and food-provisioning and the travels associated with them.
Alpha1-Antitrypsin Polymorphism and Systematics of Eastern North American Wolves
Mech, L.D. & N. Federoff, Canadian Journal of Zoology 80 (May 2002), 961-963 (3 pp)
We used data on the polymorphic status of alpha1-antitrypsin (alpha1AT) to study the relationship of Minnesota wolves to the gray wolf (Canis lupus), which was thought to have evolved in Eurasia, and to red wolves (Canis rufus) and coyotes (Canis latrans), which putatively evolved in North America. Recent evidence had indicated that Minnesota wolves might be more closely related to red wolves and coyotes. Samples from wild-caught Minnesota wolves and from captive wolves, at least some of which originated in Alaska and western Canada, were similarly polymorphic for alpha1AT, whereas coyote and red wolf samples were all monomorphic. Our findings, in conjunction with earlier results, are consistent with the Minnesota wolf being a gray wolf of Eurasian origin or possibly a hybrid between the gray wolf of Eurasian origin and the proposed North American wolf.
An Analysis of Factors Affecting Wolf Mortality Across Three Recovery Areas in the Western United States
Murray, D., World Wolf Congress 2003
Wolves were extirpated from the northwestern U.S. in the early 1900's, and recent transplants to Yellowstone and central Idaho, along with natural recolonization in northwestern Montana, have allowed the species to become reestablished in the area. We used multivariate regression models to analyze factors associated with mortality and cause of death for radio-collared wolves across the three recovery areas (1982-2002). Wolves had similar annual mortality rates in Yellowstone and Idaho whereas mortality in Montana was considerably more common. Across recovery areas, mortality rates variedannually and were lower for resident than dispersing animals. Males had slightly higher mortality rates than did females, and prime-aged wolves (3-6 years) had the lowest mortality rates of all age classes. Factors such as season, transplant status, social status, breeding status, and pack size, failed to correlate to wolf mortality rates, while the importance of prey density and private versus public land ownership in the wolf pack's home range differed between recovery areas. Overall, the principle cause of wolf death was of anthropogenic origin (illegal killing, control actions by wildlife damage personnel), and when considered in the context of the above results illustrates the need for adequate space, habitat, and protection status for effective wolf population recovery.
Assessing Differential Prey Selection Patterns Between Two Sympatric Large Carnivores
Husseman, J.S.; Murray, D.L.; Power, G.; Mack, C.; Wenger, C.R.; Quigley, H., Oikos, 101/3 (June 2003), 591 (11pp)
Several conceptual models describing patterns of prey selection by predators have been proposed, but such models rarely have been tested empirically, particularly with terrestrial carnivores. We examined patterns of prey selection by sympatric wolves (Canis lupus) and cougars (Puma concolor) to determine i) if both predators selected disadvantaged prey disproportionately from the prey population, and ii) if the specific nature and intensity of prey selection differed according to disparity in hunting behavior between predator species. We documented prey characteristics and kill site attributes of predator kills during winters 1999–2001 in Idaho, and located 120 wolf-killed and 98 cougar-killed ungulates on our study site. Elk (Cervus elephus) were the primary prey for both predators, followed by mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus). Both predators preyed disproportionately on elk calves and old individuals; among mule deer, wolves appeared to select for fawns, whereas cougars killed primarily adults. Nutritional status of prey, as determined by percent femur marrow fat, was consistently poorer in wolf-killed prey. We found that wolf kills occurred in habitat that was more reflective of the entire study area than cougar kills, suggesting that the coursing hunting behavior of wolves likely operated on a larger spatial scale than did the ambush hunting strategy of cougars. We concluded that the disparity in prey selection and hunting habitat between predators probably was a function of predator-specific hunting behavior and capture success, where the longer prey chases and lower capture success of wolf packs mandated a stronger selection for disadvantaged prey. For cougars, prey selection seemed to be limited primarily by prey size, which could be a function of the solitary hunting behavior of this species and the risks associated with capturing prime-aged prey.
Assessing Factors Related to Wolf Depredation of Cattle Ranches in Montana and Idaho
Bradley, E.H.; Pletscher, D.H., Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2003 Annual Report
Managing Wolf depredation on livestock is expensive and controversial. Therefore, managers seek to improve and develop new methods to mitigate conflicts. Determining what factors put ranches at higher risk to wolf depredation will help improve knowledge that could benefit management decisions. We sampled cattle ranches in Montana and Idaho that had experienced confirmed wolf depredations in confined pastures and compared landscape and husbandry factors with nearby matched non-depredated ranches. We found that depredated ranches had a higher presence of elk, were larger in size, had more cattle, and grazed cattle further from residences that non-depredated ranches. Classification tree analysis revealed that higher vegetation cover was also associated with depredated ranches in combination with other variables. We found no relationship between depredated ranches and husbandry practices (carcass disposal, calving locations, calving times), breed of cattle, or the closest distance cattle were grazed from the forest edge. Four of six ranches that experienced depredations during the wolf denning season (April 15 - June 15) were located closer to dens than nearby non-depredated ranches.
Attitudes of Hunters, Locals, and the General Public in Sweden Now That the Wolves are Back
Ericsson, G.; Heberlein, T.A., Biological Conservation, 111/2 (June 2003), 149 (11pp)
The wolf population in Scandinavia has increased from functionally extinct to about 100 wolves since the 1970s. In 2001 we surveyed four groups of Swedes to analyze the relationship between experience, knowledge, and people's attitude toward wolves. Although all groups support the right of wolves to exist, Swedes who live in areas where wolves have been restored have more negative attitudes than the general public. Attitudes toward wolves are not strong among the general public, thus changes are possible. Experience with wolf predation leads to more negative attitudes toward wolves. Hunters in areas with wolves have the most accurate knowledge about wolves but at the same time the most negative attitudes. But within all four groups as knowledge increases attitudes become more positive. Still, the most knowledgeable local hunters have less favorable attitudes than the least knowledgeable members of the general public. High proportions of the population do not care about wolves which makes it difficult to reach them with information, but does make them susceptible to rapid changes if wolves become a media topic. With the restoration of wolves, hunters, the strongest supporters of wolves in the 1970s, are now less supportive than the general public.
Attitudes Toward Gray Wolf Reintroduction to New Brunswick
Lohr, C.; Ballard, W.B.; Bath, Alistair, Wildlife Society Bulletin, 24/3, 1994, 414-420
Restoration of gray wolves (Canis lupus) to their original range depends not only on a sound ecological basis but also on public acceptance. We sampled 4 special interest groups in New Brunswick about a hypothetical reintroduction to this area. Two white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) hunter groups and 2 naturalist groups were sampled by questionnaire to test the hypothesis that deer hunters would have more negative attitudes and be less willing to reintroduce wolves to New Brunswick than would members of naturalist groups. Deer hunters in northern New Brunswick, where deer hunting was closed due to low numbers of deer, were more negative about a reintroduction than southern deer hunters...and members of naturalist groups. None of the groups were willing to reintroduce wolves to New Brunswick. Positive attitude and greater willingness to support reintroduction were correlated with higher education, not having previously hunted big game, and less fear of hiking in the woods knowing wolves were present. Knowledge-of-wolf scores for all groups were low. The most common reason given for opposing wolf reintroduction was that it would result in a deer population decline. If wolf reintroduction were ever to be contemplated for New Brunswick, education programs would be necessary to placate public fear of deer population declines.