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Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior
Wolf Recovery in Sweden and Norway
Bjarvall, A., Beyond 2000: Realities of Global Wolf Restoration (2000)
When the wolf was protected in Sweden in 1966 and Norway in 1973, there were probably fewer than ten individuals left in Scandinavia. However, reproduction was verified in northermost Sweden in 1978. After that, the number of wolves again decreased almost to zero. At the same time reports of wolf sightings started to appear from a region in west-central Sweden close to the Norwegian border. In 1982, we began to realize that if the wolf would be able to survive in Scandinavia, it would be in this region. [Wolf] repopulation in this region can be divided into three phases. The first began with the first reproduction here in 1983 and lasted through 1990. During these 8 years, seven litters of wolves were known to have been born....Still, the estimated total number of wolves never exceeded ten. During the second phase (1991 to 1995) two litters of wolves were verified each year. The number of wolves exceeded 20 towards the end of this phase. During the current third phase, obvious population growth took place. The number of litters increased to three in 1996 and to five or six thereafter, and the total number of wolves last winter was estimated at 62-78. To investigate the opinion in Sweden as to this growing population, more than 2000 Swedes were interviewed by telephone in late 1997. More than two-thirds of the respondents could accept a wolf population twice as big as the 40-60 wolves that were in Scandinavia at that time. Further, more than 40% were willing to accept at least 500 wolves. The study also gave interesting information about differences among demographic groups. A ...Carnivore Commission recently submitted a proposal for a future Swedish carnivore policy. The commission suggested 200 wolves as the minimum goal for the future. Before that goal will be reached, only wolves causing particular problems killed....
Wolf Recovery in the U.S. Southern Rocky Mountains
Phillips, M.K., World Wolf Congress 2003
Since the mid-1990s there has been considerable interest in restoring wolves to the U.S. Southern Rockies Ecoregion. Wolf recovery there is probably a requisite for delisting the species throughout much of the western United States and would serve as a capstone for wildlife conservation. This study was undertaken to document the biological and social aspects of restoring wolves to the Ecoregion. The Ecoregion extends from south-central Wyoming, western Colorado, and north-central New Mexico and includes much public land (about 10 million hectares) and much wild prey (e.g., an estimated 300,000 elk and 500,000 deer inhabit Colorado) that could support a self-sustaining population of 1,000 or more wolves. There is considerable public support for restoring wolves to the area and significant citizen-based efforts have risen in support. Since the Ecoregion is nearly equidistant from the population of wolves in the U.S. Northern Rocky Mountains and the population of wolves in south-western New Mexico and south-eastern Arizona, recovering wolves here could result in the restoration of a metapopulation of wolves from the arctic to Mexico. Nowhere else in the world does such an opportunity exist to effect large carnivore restoration over an area of continental proportions. Moreover, the southern portion of the Southern Rockies may offer the only hope for recoverying the Mexican wolf.
Wolf Reintroduction, Predation Risk, and Cottonwood Recovery in Yellowstone National Park
Ripple, W.J.; Beschta, R.L., Forest Ecology & Management, 184/1-3, October 2003, 299-313
We studied young riparian cottonwoods (Populus spp.) and associated woody plants along Soda Butte Creek and the Lamar River in northeastern Yellowstone National Park (YNP) to examine the potential influence of wolf/elk interactions upon plant growth. After a period of approximately 70 years without wolves in YNP, they were reintroduced in the winter of 1995-1996. When we compared woody plant heights shown in photographs taken prior to 1998 with those shown in 2001-2002 photos, we found an increase in the height of riparian woody plants for six of the eight sites within the study area....We measured differences in both browsing intensity and cottonwood height for sites with relatively high predation risk (low visibility and/or the presence of escape barriers) and compared them to nearby sites with relatively low predation risk (open areas). In general, the high-risk sites had lower browsing intensities (percent of stems browsed) and taller plants than low-risk sites. Although the young cottonwoods on high-risk sites were growing taller each year over the last 4 years, there was little change in the plant heights for low-risk sites....While the release of cottonwood and willows within the study area is in a very early stage, results provide rare empirical evidence illustrating the indirect effects of a top carnivore in a terrestrial food chain and supports theories on: (1) predation risk effects and (2) trophic cascades (top-down control). Wolf reintroductions into the Yellowstone environment may thus represent a management action that was needed to help insure the restoration of riparian species and preservation of biodiversity.
The Wolf Situation in Mongolia
Khuuhhenduu, T., Beyond 2000: Realities of Global Wolf Restoration (2000)
Mongolia is a country with a rich mammal composition, including one species of wolf, the gray wolf (C. lupus Linnaeus 1758). There are not many published materials on gray wolf research in Mongolia. In the 1930s and 1950s, some Soviet scientists studied wolves in the mountain ranges of Altai, Khangai, and Khubsugul, and in late 1980, Mongolian biologists did scientific research on the wolf in the Great Gobi Protected Area. From 1994 to 1999, wolf monitoring was done in Khustai Nuruu National park....The Russian scientist A.G. Bannikov wrote that there are two subspecies of the gray wolf in Mongolia. Another sub-species of the gray wolf may exist in Eastern Mongolia. The wolf is distributed throughout the country....[T]he wolf occurs in forest steppe, steppe, taiga zones -- more in the mountainous regions and fewer in the Gobi desert. Most of the wolf's diet is domestic herds in most of the area during all seasons. But in northern forest areas, wolves catch red deer, roe deer, wild boar, and brown elk. Gobi desert wolves mostly catch black-tail antelope, khulan, wild camel, argali sheep, ibex, hare, some rodents and other animals, while Eastern Mongolian wolves mainly catch Mongolian gazelles. In respect to Mongolia's traditional nomadic animal husbandry, hate for the gray wolf was apparent since ancient times. This point of view existed until 1990 in all people except a few biology experts. The wolf has been one of Mongolia's favorite game animal[s]....The ancient kings hunted the wolf to show their bravery...and for the wolf's pelt, but after the 1921 revolution, people started to hunt the animal on a large scale to reduce predations on domestic herds and to export its pelts. An average of 3,689 wolves were killed every year from 1981 to 1988. Nowadays, wolves are not being hunted in an organized manner. However they are still taken for sport. In recent years, people's view about the wolf's importance in nature has been changing....
Wolf Status in the French Alps: From Monitoring to Damage Management
Duchamp, C.; Marboutin, E.; Dahier, T.; Migot, P.; Micquel, C.; Taberlet, P.; Lequette, B., World Wolf Congress 2003
The wolf disappeared from France in the 1930s. After more than sixty years it returned to the French Alps where it was first observed in 1992 in the Mercantour National Park (southeastern France), expanding from Italy where their population is in numerical and geographical increase since the 1970s. Since then, the species kept expanding, and permanent wolf presence is now observed throughout most of the French Alps. A large scale monitoring of the species has been established using both field observations and genetic methods. More than ten years after the first sighting an overview of the species status and its management can be given. The field monitoring network is coordinated by the Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage and is based on more than 450 field workers. During the winter 2002/2003 ten different areas were occupied by wolves, 6 of them having packs that already reproduced at least once in previous years. Non-invasive genetic sampling methods are used to confirm wolf presence in newly colonized areas. Several hundreds of scats have thus been analysed allowing a good control of data obtained from field observations of wolf signs (scats, tracks and prey carcasses). As damage to livestock frequently occurs within areas occupied by the wolf, this control facilitates the settlement of prevention systems in order to reduce damage to livestock and also facilitates damage compensation.
Wolf-Deer Field Study by High School Students in Wisconsin
Thiel, Richard P., World Wolf Congress 2003
In May 1995 a wolf (Canis lupus), kennelled while recuperating from an injury, escaped into Sandhill Wildlife Area, a 36 km2 deer research facility surrounded by 29.6 km of 3m tall fence. The escape prompted creation of the High School Independent Studies project. Junior and senior high school students with GPA's > 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) were recruited to participate in this project. Objectives were to provide students an opportunity to conduct wildlife research in the field and analyze data collected at the end of the field season by determining the impact of wolf predation on a deer population. In 7 winter field seasons (January through March), 1995-95 through 2001-02, 154 students participated from 15 public school districts, one parochial school, one home schooled; among these were 2 foreign exchange students. Students walked or drove 1408 km in search of wolf trails in 182 days; trailed the wolf 116 days totalling 306 km and located 19 wolf-killed deer. Daily consumption rate varied from 2.8 to 7.1 kg/day. Percent utilization was inversely related to winter severity, and consumption rates were related to fall deer densities. The wolf removed a mean of 22 deer per year compared to a mean of 92 harvested annually. The combined removal did not prevent a gradual increase in deer numbers during the 7-year period. Students felt participation increased their knowledge and appreciation for wolves and their effects on deer, and gave them important exposure to the application of scientific methods in the study of wild animal populations.
Wolf/Elk Interactions on State-Managed Feed Grounds and Adjacent National Forests in Wyoming
Jimenez, M; Stevenson, J., Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2003 Annual Report
We monitored wolves during winters 1999-2003 to determine the distribution of wolf packs, describe prey selection of wolves, and document the behavioral response of elk to the presence of wolves on three elk feed grounds and adjacent national forest in Wyoming. We used radio telemetry to locate wolves and estimate home ranges. We back-tracked wolves to locate carcass remains of elk killed or scavenged by wolves. Radio-collared elk were followed to describe how elk responded to wolves hunting on feed grounds. In 1999 and 2000, two wolf packs recolonized the area and their home ranges overlapped in two feed grounds. From 2001 to 2003, only one wolf pack inhabited the drainage. We located 152 kills made by wolves on the three feed grounds and the adjacent national forest. Forty-nine percent of the elk killed were cows, 4% bulls, and 47 % calves. The mean age of adult elk killed was 9.5 years and the oldest elk killed was 23 years old. Mean consumption of elk carcasses by wolves was 82%. In 2001, calf/cow ratios dropped from a 10-year average of 27.6 calves/100 cows to 17.5 calves/100 cows. Calf/cow ratios increased in 2002 to 21.8 calves/100 cows. However, state game officials remain concerned about low calf/cow ratios and calf recruitment. During winter 2002, 3,583 elk were counted in the Gros Ventre, compared to a 10-year average of 3,485 elk. Elk responded to wolves hunting on feed grounds by: 1) remaining on the feed grounds even when wolves killed
elk; 2) leaving the area but returning within days; and 3) leaving the feed ground where wolves killed elk and gathering in larger herds on adjacent feed grounds absent of wolves. Displaced elk gathering on private property and elk crowding on specific feed grounds became very controversial as state game managers were forced to adjust winter feeding programs.
Wolf-Sightings on the Canadian Arctic Islands
Miller, F.L.; Reintjes, F.D., Arctic, 48/4, December 1995, 313-323
A wolf-sighting questionnaire was sent to 201 arctic field researchers from many disciplines to solicit information on observations of wolves (Canis lupus spp.) made by field parties on [the] Canadian Arctic Islands. Usable responses were obstained for 24 of the 25 years between 1967 and 1991. Respondents reported 373 observations, involving 1203 wolf-sightings. Of these, 688 wolves in 234 observations were judged to be different individuals; the remaining 515 wolf-sightings in 139 observations were believed to be repeated observations of 167 of those 688 wolves. The reported wolf-sightings were obtained from 1953 field-weeks spent on 18 of 36 Arctic Islands...; no wolves were seen on the other 18 islands during an additional 186 field-weeks. Airborne observers made 24% of all wolf-sightings, 266 wolves in 48 packs and 28 single wolves....Pack sizes averaged 4.8 + / - 0.28 SE and ranged from 2 to 15 wolves. Sixty-three wolf pups were seen in 16 packs, with a mean of 3.9 + / - 2.24 SD and a range of 1-10 pups per pack. Most (81%) of the different wolves were seen on the Queen Elizabeth Islands....Average rates of wolf observations...were markedly greater during 1867-75 and 1989-91 than in 1976-88. Relative differences in the reported rates of wolf observations on the Queen Elizabeth Islands in 1967-75, 1976-88, and 1989-91 follow the relative abundance of the wolf's major prey, Peary caribou (Rangifer tarandus pearyi) and muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus) on those islands during those periods.
Wolves, Dogs, Livestock Depredation and Compensation Costs: 25 Years of Italian Experience
Ciucci, P.; Boitani, L., Beyond 2000: Realities of Global Wolf Restoration (2000)
Although compensation programs for livestock depredations have been officially approved by Italian Regions since the 1970's, their costs have never been quantified nor monitored through time at the local, regional or national scale. However, given the increase in wolf numbers and range over these past 25 years, wolf-livestock interactions changed drastically and, correspondingly, compensation programs have recently been challenged due to their alleged dramatic increase. As part of a European Union Life project for wolf conservation, we quantified compensation costs at the national scale for the years 1991-95, correlated them to the increasing wolf population, and carried out a comparative analysis of the compensation programs adopted by each Regional government. Compensation costs, in the order of US $2,000,000 each year, appear to be the highest among European countries. However, a large portion of the wolf population is still illegally killed each year and social conflicts do not seem to be sedated by compensation. Regional differences in compensation costs do not reflect differences in wolf numbers and distribution, nor differences in livestock density. Husbandry techniques, presence of free-ranging dogs and structure of the compensation programs all appear to influence compensation costs to some extent. Even though amount of money spent to compensate depredations by wolves is still negligible if compared to that paid to farmers to compensate wild boar damages to agricultural crops, their recent increase calls for a revision of both their aims and their structure. This is especially true in light of the ongoing increase of wolves in Italy and, in particular, in marginal and human-dominated areas. Whereas other models of compensation ought to be explored, the structure of existing compensation programs (e.g.  certification of alleged damages, percentage and conditions of payment, etc.) need to be radically revised and integrated into a more complex conflict-resolution strategy.
Wolves, Elk, and Bison: Reestablishing the "Landscape of Fear" in Yellowstone National Park, U.S.A.
Laundr, J.; Hernndez, L.; Altendorf, K., Canadian Journal of Zoology, 79 (August, 2001): 1401-1409 (9 pp)

The elk or wapiti (Cervus elaphus) and bison (Bison bison) of Yellowstone National Park have lived in an environment free of wolves (Canis lupus) for the last 50 years. In the winter of 1994-1995, wolves were reintroduced into parts of Yellowstone National Park. Foraging theory predicts that elk and bison would respond to this threat by increasing their vigilance levels. We tested this prediction by comparing vigilance levels of elk and bison in areas with wolves with those of elk still in "wolf-free" zones of the Park. Male elk and bison showed no response to the reintroduction of wolves, maintaining the lowest levels of vigilance throughout the study (approximately12 and 7% of the time was spent vigilant, respectively). Female elk and bison showed significantly higher vigilance levels in areas with wolves than in areas without wolves. The highest vigilance level (47.5 ± 4.1%; mean ± SE) was seen by the second year for female elk with calves in the areas with wolves and was maintained during the subsequent 3 years of the study. As wolves expanded into non-wolf areas, female elk with and without calves in these areas gradually increased their vigilance levels from initially 20.1 ± 3.5 and 11.5 ± 0.9% to 43.0 ± 5.9 and 30.5 ± 2.8% by the fifth year of the study, respectively. We discuss the possible reasons for the differences seen among the social groups. We suggest that these behavioural responses to the presence of wolves may have more far-reaching consequences for elk and bison ecology than the actual killing of individuals by wolves.
Wolves in the Casentinesi Forests: Insights for Wolf Conservation in Italy from a Protected Area with a Rich Wild Prey Community
Apollonio, M.; Mattioli, L.; Scandura, M.; Mauri, L. Gazzola, A.; Avanzinelli, E., Biological Conservation, 120/2 (November 2004), 253 (12 pp)
The Casentinesi Forests, in the northern Appenines, harbour a rich community of wild ungulates, with the wolf representing the largest predator in the area. Between 1993 and 2000, wolf pack distribution in the area was monitored and estimates of pack size were obtained by wolf-howling surveys, snow-tracking, and occasional observations. Three to five packs were detected yearly, with sizes averaging 4.2 [plus or minus] 0.9 wolves (maximum 7). The overall density in the area was 4.7 wolves per 100 km2 with an average distance between adjacent packs of 11.1 km. The high wolf density in the Casentinesi Forests is mostly related to abundance and size of wild prey. In this, like in other areas at low latitudes, wolf density depends mainly on the number of packs, as pack size is rather small and recruitment limited by early dispersal and high mortality. Three homesites used in several years by resident packs were discovered. Homesite fidelity and pack reproductive success were higher in fully protected rather than harvested areas. Establishing a network of protected areas with high ungulate diversity and abundance is proposed as the main factor for allowing a full recovery of the wolf population in Italy.