An Assessment Of Boyce's Yellowstone Wolf Recovery Model: 8 Years Post-wolf.
Recovery of gray wolves (Canis lupus) within and around Yellowstone National Park has provided the opportunity for examining predictions made prior to recovery. Eight years after wolves were transported from Canada to Yellowstone a thriving population has been established. Efforts to forecast the ecological ramifications of restoring wolves to the Yellowstone ecosystem were made prior to reintroduction and included various attempts to model outcomes of wolf and prey populations. Dr. M. S. Boyce constructed a model and expanded it to simulate the consequences of wolves for ungulate populations in the greater Yellowstone area in which he used regression relationships based on observed growth in elk populations under varying levels of population density and winter severity. Prey populations were expected to be reduced by 10-30%, with elk (Cervus elaphus) as the principal species. The expected consequences of wolf predation on ungulate populations was further influenced significantly by climate and management practices. These simulations of the pre-wolf era will be revisited in the context of the contemporary understanding of the outcomes of wolf recovery, and evaluated based on their accuracy.
The Effectiveness of Wolf Control: An Assessment of Wolf Control Programs in Alaska.
Since 1976, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) has conducted a number of wolf control programs (defined as the human act of reducing the wolf population below levels that the prey population could otherwise support.) The most recent being a non-lethal wolf control program implemented in 1997 to restore the Fortymile caribou herd. The objective of these wolf control programs has been to increase the abundance of ungulates for human consumptive uses. My review of the Alaskan wolf control programs find that they have been rather ineffective in obtaining this objection. Factors, other than reduction in the density of wolves, may have contributed significantly to subsequent increases in ungulate populations. Specifically, reduction in ungulate harvest levels and favorable weather conditions have been shown to significantly affect ungulate densities, and controlling for these factors decreased the estimated impact of wolf control. This indicates that at best wolf control may be effective only in combination with reduction in ungulate harvest levels, and that wolf control alone likely has little impact on the long-term abundance of ungulates.
Legal, Political, and Social Considerations for Managing Re-colonizing Wolves in Utah.
In late November 2002, a wolf dispersed from Yellowstone National Park into northern Utah and was captured in a trap set for coyotes. This incident rekindled public debate over the future of wolves in the State. Wolves are expected to continue dispersing into Utah from expanding populations to the north, and federal recovery goals have been met, providing the expectation of relaxation and removal of federal protections from wolves throughout the West. The Utah State Legislature passed a resolution during the 2003 session that provides general direction for addressing wolf management in the future. The resolution;
Predators in Conflict: Human-wolf Interaction in Montana's Ninemile Valley.
In 2002, wolves began to depredate livestock in the lower Ninemile valley west of Missoula, Montana. Wildlife officials responded by authorizing lethal removal of individual wolves from the pack. Seven of the estimated thirteen-member pack were killed by government agents before winter. Some residents thought it wrong to kill wild wolves for simply doing what wild animals do to make a living. These folks were likely to shift blame for livestock deaths to the owners for daring to live in the forest interface or for failure to adequately protect their animals. Other residents thought it wrong to let any of the wolves live, that the government had not gone far enough to promote the safety of people and animals in the Ninemile valley. However, to characterize this situation as a clash of values fails to identify its ethical dimensions and provides no insight on how the issue should be resolved in the public interest. After all, public officials in the United States are expected to act for the common good of all citizens, not to select which values to promote in a society that encourages diversity.
Preliminary-results of a Low-Intensity Disturbance-Experiment at Tundra Wolf Home-Sites.
We report first year results of experimental disturbance at wolf home-sites (natal dens and rendezvous sites) in the central Canadian Arctic. The experiment was done in the sub-arctic wilderness of mainland Canada, with study sites located approximately 300 km northeast of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. In the last fifteen years, portions of the study area have been developed for exploration, mining, outfitting, and eco-tourism. We established temporary field camps near six wolf home-sites and observed them from concealed points 300 - 1600 m away. Initially we identified individuals to determine the number and social status of wolves present. Our experimental disturbance treatment involved a person walking up to the site and staying there for 5-10 minutes on three consecutive days. Wolf reactions were described on audiotape and recorded with a video camera. We report the mean and range of response distances by wolves to the treatment. Dominant males reacted more intensely to our disturbance treatment than females. Four sites were disturbed from 6 June to 3 July 2002 (early period) and two from 9 to 22 August 2002 (late period). Of packs treated in the early period, one moved from the site after the second treatment while the other three tolerated our disturbance without abandoning the site. Both packs treated in the late period were at rendezvous sites and moved after the second day of disturbance. These preliminary results suggest that wolves are less likely to move home-sites in response to low intensity disturbance when pups are young, indicating that this may be a sensitive time in the annual cycle of wolves. This work supports decisions that consider the age of pups before implementing management action at wolf dens.
Winter Movement Patterns of a Recolonizing Wolf Population.
A largely unanswered question concerning the ecology of wolves centers around what habitat and landscape factors substantially influence their movement patterns. To address this question, we are studying fine scale movements and broader scale habitat use of wolves in a Yellowstone prey system. By focusing on the winter ranges of Yellowstone's non-migratory Madison-Firehole elk herd and Central bison herd, we are hoping to use intensively studied ungulate populations as well as other environmental features to tease apart the influential drivers of wolf movement. Wolf spatial data were collected on multiple scales over the past four winters. At the broadest scale, wolf core use areas have been delineated based on 522 ground based telemetry locations. At a finer scale, snow tracking resulted in 1,287 kilometers of data which are being used to model wolf movement patterns across a heterogeneous landscape of terrain, vegetation and prey availability. At the finest scale, 272 wolf kill sites were visited in order to gain insight into locations of concentrated wolf hunting efforts and sites of higher elk vulnerability. Preliminary conclusions will be presented in the context of potential management implications as well as possible affects on predator-prey models in large mammal systems.
An Analysis of Wolf Hunting Behavior in Yellowstone National Park.
To study the hunting behavior of the wolf (Canis lupus) in Yellowstone National Park (YNP), we first define the wolf predatory sequence as consisting of six principle behaviors: travel, approach, watch, attack, target, and capture. These behaviors are organized into three nested groups: hunting bout, prey encounter, and predation attempt. Using this framework, we evaluated general patterns of hunting behavior and estimated hunting success rates, for wolves hunting elk and bison in YNP. From May 1995 to March 2000, 62 hunting bouts, 267 prey encounters, and 565 predation attempts were observed in their entirety. The typical hunting pattern involved a brief hunting bout (« 60 min.) including at least one prey encounter(« 15 min.) and at least one predation attempt (« 4 min.). Wolves encountered prey within 25 minutes of hunting, and approximately once every 20 minutes thereafter (3.00 ± 0.42 encounters/ hour/bout N = 62).
Wolf Recovery in the Southern Rockies.
Since the mid-1990s there has been considerable interest in restoring wolves to the Southern Rockies Ecoregion. This area extends from south central Wyoming, through western Colorado and north-central New Mexico. The Ecoregion includes much wild land (about 25 million acres) and much wild prey (e.g., an estimated 260,000 elk and 490,000 deer inhabit Colorado) that could easily support a wolf population. There is considerable public support for restoring wolves to the area (66 percent of registered voters from the region support restoration), and significant citizen-based efforts have arisen to do just that. Since the Ecoregion is nearly equidistant from the population of wolves in the northern Rockies and the population of wolves in southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona, restoring wolves here could provide nature with badly needed grist to recreate 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 recovering the Mexican wolf.
Wolf Recovery in the Contiguous United States.
By July 2003 wolf populations in the contiguous United States included more animals and were more widely distributed than at any time since the early 1900s. In response to the species' improved conservation status, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a comprehensive proposed reclassification rule that effectively served as the Service's vision for wolf recovery throughout the contiguous United States. The proposal was complex and controversial. By early 2003 the Service had finalized the reclassification rule. This paper considers the legal and biological appropriateness of the Service's final rule and offer recommendations to ensure that wolf recovery is consistent with relevant biological and legal standards and the definitions, intent, and spirit of the Endangered Species Act.
Westward Bound Wolves: Oregon and California.
Wolves dispersing into Oregon after a multi-decade absence has sparked enormous interest, and varying responses from stakeholders. Though the issue is, at present, more elevated in Oregon, the prospect of wolves one day returning to California has generated a similar reaction. This presentation addresses the historical presence of wolves in both states; current state-level protections for wolves; and reactions by the media, state agencies and commissions, legislatures, conservation groups and other stakeholders in response to the issue of wolf restoration.
A Comparison of Snow-Tracking and Telemetry data in the Development of Resource Selection Models for Wolves in Kananaskis Country, Alberta.
Non-invasive detection strategies are gaining interest in wildlife research and conservation. We tested resource selection models developed using tracking data with those created using telemetry data for gray wolves (Canis lupus) in the Central Canadian Rocky Mountains. We recorded wolf tracks in snow on road right-of-ways and transects in Kananaskis Country, Alberta between November and March, from 1997-2000. We used Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems to examine the relationship between wolf presence and landscape characteristics. Independent variables included distance to roads, greenness, distance to high greenness, wetness, distance to high wetness, deer and elk abundance, percent cover, topographic complexity, distance to high topographic complexity, aspect (eastness, northness), slope, and elevation. We used logistic regression and information criterion to create a winter-based tracking model of resource selection in Kananaskis. We tested this model against telemetry data collected for wolves in the Kananaskis Valley from 1991-1993, to determine the efficacy of using non-invasive tracking data to create resource selection models.
Effects of Wolf Removal on Livestock Depredation in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.
Wolf recovery in the northwestern U.S has brought with it the challenge of managing conflicts with livestock. In response to these conflicts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with the assistance of Wildlife Services, has relocated 107 wolves and lethally controlled 141 wolves from 1987-2002. Other wolves were legally or illegally killed, died of natural causes, or put in captivity after depredation events. In most cases, some wolves remained in the depredating packs. We looked at depredation activity of wolf packs remaining post-removal and compared this to depredating packs that did not undergo any form of removal, to determine the extent to which removal reduces livestock killing behavior. Potential effects of wolf pack size and composition were examined in this context. Wolf removal was considered successful if remaining packs were not implicated in any confirmed or highly probable depredations for » 1 year. Of 48 partial pack removal events from 1987-2001, 75% (n=36) of remaining packs depredated again within 1 year of removal.
Assessing Elk Group Size and Distributional Responses to Wolves in Winter.
As the gray wolf population expands outward from Yellowstone National Park, there is potential for wolf- induced changes in the behavior of wintering elk populations. Certain anti-predator responses to wolves, such as changes in mean group size and animal distribution, are of interest due to their relationship to resource management policies, procedures, and objectives on the private and public lands that compose wintering areas.
Cooperative Wolf Depredation Management During Wolf Recovery in Wisconsin, 1990 - 2002.
Gray wolves (Canis lupus) were commonly found throughout Wisconsin prior to settlement of the state by Europeans. Wolves were largely extirpated from southern Wisconsin by the late 1800's and from central Wisconsin by 1914. A remnant wolf population existed in northern Wisconsin until the 1950's. Wolves began to reappear in the state in the 1970's under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. By 1980 five packs were documented to occur. Federal and state recovery plans established goals and objectives for wolf recovery in Wisconsin. Depredation management was a component of recovery plans. In 1990 provisions for wolf depredation management were included in a cooperative agreement between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services (WS). The role of WS included investigating reported wolf depredations, providing technical assistance, and conducting control trapping when appropriate. Confirmation of a depredation was required for eligibility for state sponsored damage compensation payments. Wolf numbers began a steady upward climb in the 1990's. The Wisconsin recovery goal of 80 animals was reached in 1995. The statewide population was estimated at 197 - 203 by 1999 when Wisconsin downlisted wolves from state endangered to state threatened status. The late winter 2001-2002 estimate was 323 - 339 wolves in 81 packs in northern and central Wisconsin. The process of state delisting was begun in 2002 after the population had surpassed the 250 animals required by the recovery plan. As wolves have increased in number, depredations on domestic animals have also increased significantly. WS investigated nearly 300 wolf complaints, 1990 - 2002, and confirmed over 100 of those, including depredations to livestock, poultry, pen raised white-tailed deer, hunting dogs, and pets. Thirty-seven wolves have been trapped by WS from chronic depredation situations during the same time period. Most wolves were transferred to WDNR for relocation within the state. The WDNR paid approximately $212,000 in compensation payments for wolf damage, 1990 - 2002. Wisconsin approved a wolf management plan in 1999 which set a population management goal of 350 animals. Effective depredation management will continue to play an important role as the emphasis shifts from recovery to management of a stable population.
Carnivores, Ungulates, and Fire.
A massive forest fire swept across the Big Creek winter range in August of 2000, where we have been researching winter cougar and wolf predation behavior for 4 years, 1998-2002. The purpose of our work was to look at the relationships between the large carnivores and their prey and the interactions between carnivores. Following the fire that burned the majority of the ungulate winter range, we compared our data pre and post fire to evaluate changes in predator - prey and predator - predator relationships. We assessed ungulate displacement and nutritional condition of ungulate carcasses. We compared pre and post fire cougar and wolf winter home ranges and diets. We evaluated carnivore strife and mortality causes. We will discuss the different adaptive strategies used by carnivores and ungulates in response to fire.
Preliminary Field Evaluation of Fladry to Deter Wolf Predation on Livestock.
The use of fladry, a visual deterrent consisting of regularly spaced strips of material hanging from horizontally suspended lengths of cord, has been proposed as a potential nonlethal measure to protect livestock from wolf predation (Muslini and Visalberghi 2001). During summer 2002 we undertook a cooperative effort to evaluate this tool's potential usefulness by installing approximately 10 km of fladry around a 400-ha fenced pasture containing nearly 400 cattle. The test site was a privately-owned ranch property in central Idaho, where a wolf pack with a known history of livestock depredation had denned in the spring of 2002. Fladry was constructed by sewing 50 X 10 cm red plastic flags at 50 cm intervals on a 0.2 cm diameter nylon rope. A continuous length of this rope was then attached to the existing barbed wire fence that surrounded the ranch. The entire fladry line was inspected and maintained at least once every 72 hours. The wolf pack in the area contained eight wolves, at least four of which had been captured and radio-collared over one year prior to the experiment. We monitored the collared wolves daily with radio-telemetry from the ground, and additionally monitored tracking plots inside and outside of the fladry line to assess whether wolves entered the ranch. Wolves crossed the fladry line after 61 days, and subsequently killed cattle on the ranch.
Using Logistic Regression to Model Wolf Habitat Suitability.
The sixty six wolves that were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho in 1995 and 1996 have prospered to over 560 wolves in Yellowstone, Idaho, and Montana. With the wolf population and occupied territory expanding so rapidly, being able to know where the wolves will go next would help wildlife managers and policy makers with proactive planning. In 1999 a geographic information system (GIS) was developed to model wolf habitat suitability using road density and land cover data from a subset of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Now, results from this model are re-assessed using 2001 wolf pack locations, and the study area has been enlarged to include all of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, plus Washington and Oregon. The model was tested using data from the entire study area and 2001 wolf pack locations for out-of- sample validation. Results indicated that the model created in 1999 was able to successfully predict suitable wolf habitat, and areas of future wolf occupation with a 91% overall accuracy (2001 pack locations). The resulting habitat suitability maps can assist management agencies in the identification of potential wolf habitat, areas where human/wolf conflicts are likely to occur, and areas that should be considered critical wolf habitat.
Mexican Gray Wolves: Status Report and Challenges Facing The Captive Breeding Program.
Formidable challenges facing the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program include the release of captive raised wolves. This presentation will outline the current status of the Mexican Gray Wolf in captivity and challenges facing captive managers in raising a "wild wolf."
Habitat Selection by Elk Following Wolf Reintroduction in Yellowstone National Park.
For decades, elk (Cervus elaphus) have been the focus of debate in Yellowstone National Park over the issue of how a large ungulate population affects the quality of its habitat. Given the absence of wolves (Canis lupus) since the 1920's and termination of culling in 1968, elk population size and distribution were determined largely by climate and forage conditions. However, the reintroduction of gray wolves in 1995 has restored the major predator of elk to the Yellowstone ecosystem. In this study we tested for changes in elk habitat use in response to heightened predation risk.
Habitat Selection by Recolonizing Wolves in the Northwestern United States.
Gray wolf populations have persisted and expanded in the northern Rocky Mountains since 1986, while reintroduction efforts in Idaho and Yellowstone have further bolstered the population. However, rigorous analysis of either the availability of wolf habitat in the region, or the specific habitat requirements of local wolves, has yet to be conducted. We examined wolf-habitat relationships in the western U.S. by relating landscape/habitat features found within wolf pack home ranges (n = 56) to those found in adjacent non-occupied areas. Logistic regression of occupied versus unoccupied areas revealed that a higher degree of forest cover, lower human population density, higher elk density, and lower sheep density were the primary factors related to wolf occupation. Further, our analysis indicated that relatively large tracts of suitable habitat remain unoccupied, suggesting that wolf populations likely will continue to increase in the region. Analysis of the habitat linkage between the 3 main wolf sub-populations indicates that populations in central Idaho and northwest Montana have higher connectivity, and thus greater potential for exchange of individuals, than does either subpopulation to the Greater Yellowstone Area subpopulation. Thus, for the northern Rocky Mountains to function as a metapopulation for wolves and other carnivores (e.g. lynx, wolverine, and grizzly bears), it will be necessary that dispersal corridors to the Yellowstone ecosystem be established and conserved.
Use of Periodic Sampling to Estimate Wolf Predation Rates During Winter.
Estimates of wolf predation rates on ungulates are often drawn from observations of wolf packs on consecutive days during specified time periods in early winter or spring. Consequently estimates can be biased by seasonal variation in prey selection, prey vulnerability, wolf pack size and wolf pack composition. We developed a periodic sampling design to reduce those biases when estimating wolf kill rates. Sampling required aerial surveys of several wolf packs during 11, 4-day periods randomly distributed throughout the winter (late October to mid-April). Computer simulations suggested we could obtain a 90% C.I. of ± 24% of the true kill value. We applied the sampling design in the field during winters 1998-99 and 2000-2001 within a 5,500 km2 study area lying along the north side of the Alaska Range in central Alaska. We monitored 12 wolf packs in 1998-99 and 8 wolf packs in 2000-2001. During the 2 winters we detected 138 sites where wolves killed moose, caribou, or Dall sheep. We examined remains from 105 of those kills to determine sex, age, and condition of ungulates killed by wolves. Moose represented 90 and 98% of the ungulate biomass in the wolf diets during winters 1998-1999 and 2000-2001 respectively. Wolves killed moose at a mean rate of 29.1 moose per pack per winter (90%CI= 23.2-25.1 moose per pack per winter). Per wolf consumption rates averaged 7.0 kg/wolf/day (90%CI=5.5-8.4 kg/wolf/day). Calf and yearling male moose were taken disproportionately to their occurrence in the population.
Red Wolf Pup Fostering, Insertions And Management Of Wolf Pairings.
The Red Wolf Recovery Program reports initial success in fostering captive-born pups into the wild. The Program also reports continuing success with insertion of 1.5 year-old island raised red wolves into the world's only wild red wolf (Canis rufus) population. Additional measures to manage pairing of wild red wolves also shows good success. Fostering pups was initially conducted to determine effectiveness as a population management strategy. Subsequent attempts were conducted to allow a single pup to derive social benefits of growing up with siblings, to reduce numbers in a large litter or to supplement red wolf numbers and genetics in the wild. Eight separate fostering events involving captive-to-captive (n=6) and captive-to-wild (n=2) litters were attempted from 1987-2002 for a total of 14 (range 1-3) pups fostered. Age of fostered pups the source litter was 10.38 days (range 5-14), and age in the recipient litter was 9.71 days (range 4-15). The time between removal from a source litter to placement with a recipient litter ranged from several minutes to about 6 hours. All pups involved in captive-to-captive fostering events survived to weaning. One of two pups involved in a 1998 captive-to-wild fostering event survived until weaning. Two pups involved in a 2002 captive-to-wild fostering event survived to beyond 6 months of age. Similar details are discussed for insertions and breeding pair management. The utility of intra-specific fostering, insertions and breeding pair management provides significant conservation application for recovery of other canids.
Can Or Is Gray Wolf Natural Recovery Taking Place In The Northeast?
Contributor: James Hammill, Retired wolf specialist, Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources. Iron Range Consulting
Gray wolves are native to northern New England, but, direct persecution and habitat alteration led to their demise by the late 1800's. The neighboring Canadian Province of Quebec has been able to maintain viable wolf populations, and it is from this source that wolves could potentially recolonize in suitable habitat in Maine and New Hampshire. Natural and human obstacles between the Quebec population and the Maine habitat deter wolf movement. The obstacles may be significant enough barriers to prevent recolonization. In recent years there have been numerous citizen sightings of large canids in Maine and northern New Hampshire. Although not considered current, the shooting of a wolf in Maine in 1993 indicates that there is movement of individuals across the borders. Also in 2001, a wolf was snared less then 40 kilometers from the Maine border, which further supports the notion of movement into the U.S. Similar conditions existed in both Wisconsin and Michigan before the passage of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Following this experience, wolves could recolonize the northern New England states.
Wolf/Elk Interaction On State-Managed Feed Grounds In Wyoming
We monitored wolves during the winters from 1999 through 2002 to determine the distribution of wolf packs, describe prey selection by wolves, and document the behavioral response of elk to the presence of wolves on three state-managed feed grounds (Alkali, Patrol Cabin, and Fish Creek) along the Gros Ventre River drainage in Wyoming. We used radio telemetry to locate wolves and estimate home ranges. We backtracked wolves in snow to locate carcass remains of elk killed or scavenged by wolves. Elk (identified with radio-collars or tags) were followed to describe how elk responded to wolves hunting on the feed grounds. Two wolf packs recolonized in the Gros Ventre drainage and their home ranges overlapped in two elk feed grounds (Alkali and Patrol Cabin). We located 119 kills made by wolves in the three feed grounds and adjacent areas within the national forest. The mean age of adult elk killed was 10 years and the oldest elk killed was 23 years old. Forty-three percent of the elk killed were cows, 4% were bulls, and 53% were calves. Mean consumption of elk carcasses was 83% and surplus killing was documented on six occasions. Calf/cow ratios dropped in 2002 from a 5-year average of 24 calves/100 cows to 17 calves/100 cows. Approximately 800 elk were fed hay in each of the three feed grounds. Elk frequently left the northern (Fish Creek) and southern (Alkali) feed grounds but dispersed to the middle feed ground (Patrol Cabin) when wolves were present. Even though wolves killed elk on Patrol Cabin feed ground, elk often remained in the area. This unexpected crowding of elk on one feed ground became very controversial as the state game managers were forced to adjust winter feeding programs.
Winter Wolf Predation In An Elk-Bison System In Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Winter kill rates and prey selection of gray wolves (Canis lupus) were studied in the upper Madison drainage of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Elk (Cervus elaphus) and bison (Bison bison) formed the ungulate preybase in the study system and a single wolf pack used the study area as its winter territory. Daily ground telemetry, snow tracking, and necropsies were used to acquire data from mid-November through May, 1998-1999 and 1999-2000. During the two winters 108 wolf kills were located. Wolves preyed primarily on elk and showed the strongest selection for calves, which comprised half the diet (n=56). Thirty cow elk ranging in age from 1 to 15 (mean=9.9) and 8 bulls ranging in age from 1 to 10 (mean=5.1) were also killed. Although bison were more abundant than elk, only one adult and 13 calf kills were found. Prey switching was apparent during the first year of the study. By late March, no elk calf kills were found while cow and bull elk and bison calves were killed at an increased rate. An analytical method was developed to estimate smoothed kill rates across time using a moving window average and a weighting scheme to account for undetected kills. Estimated kill rates (kills/100 wolf days) nearly doubled from fall to spring each year, and were approximately twice as high the first year as the second year of study. Two factors that likely influenced kill rates were confounded between winters. Snow conditions were severe the first year and mild the second, and the wolf pack increased from 7 to 13 wolves between years. Offtake from the calf elk population was an estimated 20-25%, the highest among prey types. Though offtake was not consequential for adult elk or bison, recruitment of calf elk into the adult population may be affected by wolf predation, particularly during years of light snowpack when few calves would normally succumb to winter undernutrition. The new methodology reduced variability and improved kill rate estimation, providing new insight into wolf-ungulate dynamics in the Rocky Mountain ecosystem.
Wolves, Cougars And Wintering Ungulates: An Update On Research And Surveys In East Central Idaho
Cooperators: Nez Perce Tribe, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hornocker Wildlife Institute, Wildlife Conservation Society, Wolf Education and Research Center, Salmon-Challis National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, Global Carnivore Fund, University of Idaho, Lemhi County
Concerns about potential negative impacts recovering wolves may have on hunting opportunity and elk, deer, and bighorn sheep populations resulted in the initiation of the Lemhi County winter predator study. The 3-year winter research project was made possible through funding and in-kind-match from a host of agencies and organizations (see cooperators). Intensive field surveys occurred in late January through April 15, 1999 and January through March 2000 and 2001 in big game management unit 28 west of Salmon, Idaho. Two telemetry equipped wolf packs, Jureano and Moyer and 4 to 6 telemetry equipped cougars were followed from air and ground. Aerial surveys were conducted by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game before, during and after the winter study. Data collected during the project was analyzed through the University of Idaho and culminated in a Master's Thesis "Prey Selection Patterns of Wolves and Cougars in East-Central Idaho" by Jason S. Husseman, 2002. During the 3 winter field seasons 218 big game animals were recorded killed by cougars and wolves. Cougars killed 72 elk (51% calves), 52 deer (24% fawns), 1 bighorn sheep and 1 mountain goat. Wolves killed 92 elk (60% calves) and 28 deer (65% fawns). Wolves killed elk, both juveniles and adults in poorer body condition (approximately 15%) than did cougars. The 1991 surveys estimated 2655 elk in unit 28 with 34 calves per 100 cows. By 1996 the population was up to 4165 with a reduction to 24 calves/100 cows. Wolves hadn't yet established in unit when flights were conducted. Elk populations continued to increase to 4435 with 24 calves/100 cows in 1999, the first year of the research. The population declined to 3336-3636 with 19 calves/100 cows in 2001. The reduction was due in part to the 220,000 acre Clear Creek fire which displaced elk to an adjacent management unit and directly killed others. Sampling to obtain reliable cow calf ratios since the study were only 14 calves/100 cows in 2002 but increased to 35 calves/100 cows in 2003. The general bull season peaked in 1996 with the highest number of hunters and harvest ever recorded. Season structures were changed in 1998 to reduce hunter numbers and harvest during the antlered only season. Additional reductions in permit levels have occurred during the antlerless season.
Predicting And Understanding The Impact Of Wolves In Utah: A Progress Report
We present an overview of our research and efforts to date on predicting the biological, social, legal, and economic impacts of recolonizing gray wolves in Utah. The Utah Wolf Project, in anticipation of gray wolves dispersing from Yellowstone National Park into Utah, initiated an attitudes survey in 1994. Utahns from urban counties held more positive attitudes toward wolves than respondents from rural counties, but respondents from northern rural counties held more positive attitudes than did respondents from southern rural counties. Big-game hunters were divided, with fewer respondents holding neutral attitudes toward wolves.
Wolf Compensation And Proactive Programs: Tools For Conflict Resolution And Cooperative Partnerships
Acknowledging that wolf survival was dependent on the tolerance of local residents, in 1987, Defenders of Wildlife initiated the first livestock compensation program of its kind to reimburse livestock owners for wolf-caused losses. To date, the Bailey Wildlife Foundation Wolf Compensation program has reimbursed ranchers over $200,000 in the Northern Rockies alone. For confirmed losses, Defenders pays 100% of the fall market value (typically the peak price) at the average expected weight, and 50% for those defined as "probable" losses. These losses are investigated by biologists and/or Wildlife Service field agents.
Wolf Compensation Insurance: A Proposal For Wildlife And Ranching Collaboration In Conflict Resolution
Over its first 15 years, the Defenders of Wildlife' wolf compensation program has achieved great success. Ranchers, biologists, conservationists, local government leaders and others actively endorse the well-founded merits of the program. However, it's not possible for ranchers to document every wolf depredation and some livestock losses are not compensated. Some of these undetected losses have been significant for some ranchers. When wolves depredate on livestock, government agencies sometimes use lethal means to remove the wolves, an action generally opposed by most Americans. As wolf populations grow and stabilize in the Northern Rockies, Defenders is working to reexamine the compensation program and exploring new designs for the future programs.
Yellowstone Wolves And GPS Collars: New Insights From New Technology
We describe techniques in applying Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to investigate a variety of ecological and behavioral topics involving wolves (Canis lupus) in Yellowstone National Park (YNP), Wyoming. Because GPS collars provide more accurate and numerous data compared to traditional radiotelemetry collars, we have added this technology to our monitoring program to enhance our understanding of
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