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Grey Wolf - Canis lupus
Red Wrote:From Reddhole:

Quote: [Image: 125.jpg]

[Image: 214.jpg]

This photo was in a previous topic and the measurments given by Dinococuta.

Puma :190mm in length and  133mm breadth
Wolf :  298mm length and 146mm in Wide

This is an  almost record sized wolf skull against a subadult male or a slightly above average mature female puma skull. They don't seem represenatative of general populations.

For instance In this study with huge numbers measured the average skull from all areas (small southerly and large northerly pumas) for old males was 211mm in length. If we included only the largest subspecies It would be interesting to find a mean value.

This is a differnece of 21mm in length between average mature males and this specimen. 

Also the average male zygomatic width for old males was 145mm, the same as this huge wolf.

Wolfs on average do have proportionally larger heads but not anywhere near the scale of this picture.

The information I have on leopard skulls indicate they are much larger than puma skulls around 20% in length and breadth (and probably height) this makes them similiar in size to wolf skulls.

Although I find hunting abhorent Relaible hunting records from Boone and Crockett and SCI hunting (days free membership) indicate the largest ever recorded are 

Puma         16 4/16 inches (length plus width)
Wolf           18 10/16 inches
Leopard     19 11/16 inches
Hyena        20   1/16 inches

Interesting thread. The length of dinocrocuta's specimen is of near record size, but zygomatic width is about average for boreal wolves. Overall, I think something is off as the skull width is a relatively small percentage of skull length vs. most wolf skulls.

Here are some average wolf skull sizes for various regions male wolves 2 years and older. Column 1 is skull length and column 2 is skull width:

[Image: SkullMeasurementsofWolves.jpg]

The Northern subgroup averages 27.5 cm x 14.7 cm. Canis lupus occidentalis (Alaska/NW Canada) averages 27.6 cm x 14.8 cm. A sample of 34 Canis lupus occidentalis skulls from another study averaged 27.8 x 15.1 from another study. Canis lupus communis (Russia) averages 27.0 x 15.1 cm. All of these wolves average about 100-120 lbs. 

Here are average male leopard skull sizes. It says "all age classes", but the study says only mature specimens were used:

[Image: LeopardSkullSizes001.jpg]

Asian leopard had the largest skulls - 22.5 cm x 14.7 cm.

The largest wolf skulls from a study I've seen are slightly smaller than the Boone & Crocket records - 17.53 inches - 18.07 inches and are as follows:

[Image: RecordWolfSkullSizes002.jpg]

This study is 30 years old, so its possible larger skulls have been found since.

From data, I've seen the largest leopard skulls are likely larger than the largest wolf skulls. However, the largest leopard and cougars are approximately 1/3 larger than the largest wolves.  At equal weights, the wolf's skull should be larger.

Red Wrote:The dead wolf from McCargo first appeared in the population in winter 2005, and seems to have been a subordinate wolf from East Pack. 
Our thinking... for now... the wolf from McCargo survived the recent death of East Pack’s alpha male (see journal entry for 15 Feb). The wolf from McCargo seems not to have been welcomed by the new East Pack alpha male. The wolf from McCargo wandered his old haunts, avoiding the new alpha male as long as he could. Then finally on the 19th or 20th of January, he met his death at the teeth of the new alpha wolf, probably while his sister, the alpha female, watched. The alpha pair of Chippewa Harbor, the next most likely perpetrators, were nowhere near the scene during these days.

Read more:

Red Wrote:On Jan. 29th, ID WS confirmed that a wolf attacked and injured two livestock guarding dogs on private land South of Riggins, ID. The attack occurred in the North Fork of Shingle Creek. One of the two dogs' injuries may be life threatening, the other has less serious wounds. The wolf responsible for the attack may be associated with the Lick Creek Pack. After consulting with IDFG, ID WS will begin efforts to lethally remove one wolf. The livestock owner was also be presented with the option to use fladry, if he desires, to keep wolves from his sheep and dogs 

Read more:

Red Wrote:The pictures below are from Dinocrocuta.

The wolf's skull is around 30 CM (just short of 12 inches) long, which is near record size. The cougar's is about 21.6 CM long, and adult cougar skulls range from about 16 CM - 24 CM. Thus, my best guess is both animals weighed around 150 lbs.

As you can see in the pictures below, the grey wolf's skull is much bigger and the canines are similar in size to the cougar's. The cougar's skull and teeth are on the left in each picture and the wolf's skull and teeth are on the right in each picture. 

[Image: WolfCougarSkullComparison.jpg]

[Image: WolfCougarCanineComparison.jpg]

[Image: WolfCougarCanineComparison2.jpg]

[Image: WolfCougarCanineComparison3.jpg]

[Image: WolfCougarCanineComparison4.jpg]

I think he would have had longer measurements for each canine if he used a tape measure which could bend along the curves of each tooth.

Red Wrote:Isle Royale Wolf Pair Kills Old Cow Moose

Wolf pair on Isle Royale killed well-nourished old cow moose. Isle Royale wolves are relatively small weighing about 60-80 lbs. and are a hybrid of grey (Canis lupus) and eastern/red wolves (Canis lycaon/rufus).The moose showed some arthritis in her hips, but that is typical for older moose and presumably other ungulates as well.

We found the tracks of two wolves on the harbor near the cabin.  They were left by the west-end duo – the pair of wolves we’d first seen scent-marking on the beach of Siskiwit Bay – as they had left the moose they’d killed about a week ago at a site about a mile north of the harbor.  We could hike in and perform a necropsy and collect scats.


The carcass was of an old cow moose.  The bone marrow was full of white, flaky fat – a little like vegetable shortening.  She had been well nourished.  But her worn teeth betrayed her old age, and her hips showed signs of arthritis.

Taipan Wrote:From Titoedersu

Titoedersu Wrote:Good morning to all. I just joined, I'm Italian and I do not know English very well so I use an automatic translator. Congratulations to all for the data provided. I tried to open a new topic but maybe I have to wait. However, I think you're interested in this story: a wolf here in Italy, Isernia, so approached the house, a pit bull he faced but was immediately killed. Here the site with photos: 
My apologies to the moderators, but I did not know how to insert the news.

Great Find!

Translated using "Google translate"

[big][big]Isernia: Clash wolf - Pit Bull [/big][/big](photo gallery)
The expert: no alarm, the wolf is not a danger to humans.
Editorial | February 20, 2012

[Image: cop283-287x300.jpg]

GEAPRESS - Typically we are accustomed to hearing about fights between dogs, perhaps badly kept in a kennel, where animals that should not come into contact and eventually clash in some cases succumb.

The dog is a wolf. Molded and enslaved by the evolution of man imposed by custom. They communicate in a manner often inscrutable to non-experts. You stare, you study, launch signal, then establish who is boss. Usually goes smoothly, but when a wolf is no longer that tens of thousands of years and maybe it was preferred to the emergence of a dominant trait, it can also happen what happened in these days of extreme cold in the immediate outskirts of Rocchetta al Volturno, in the province of Isernia.

A wolf, a large male, came into contact with a Pit bull kept near a body. To have the worst was the dog. A wolf's canine has penetrated between the palate and tongue. Snow remained on the tracks of the collision. Blood, but also fingerprints, according to Dr. Anthony Liberatore, Director of Veterinary dell'ASREM (Molise Regional Healthcare Company), are unmistakably a wolf.

The dr. Liberatore is an expert on wildlife, and for him those tracks are likely to be linked to the large male often observed in places. A peaceful presence with which Dr. Liberatore came in contact.

"The wolf flees at the sight of man - refers to Dr. GeaPress. Liberatore - maximum ignores him and continues on his way. This worst case scenario. The wolf is not a threat. "

In recent days, the upper valley of the Volturno, were spotted several deer come down to the valley as a result of snow left. It had been found some dead, or (whether alive or dead) food for the wolf. Also in recent days, the State Forestry (see article GeaPress) had issued a statement where noted as the winter was really a happy season for wild canid. At the rigors hurt everywhere are his prey or herbivores that are for the weak and therefore more susceptible to predation of the wolf.

"The locals - adds Dr. Liberatore - do not feel in danger wolf. Problems can occur with grazing, but this should be carefully analyzed. There are unscrupulous breeder, especially among the elderly, but not always the case. "

Grazing, in essence, means sometimes abandoned pasture. Animals left at the mercy of events. Animals of little value, however, turn into a profit in the case of contributions or reimbursements. Some, then, are more at risk than others. It 's the case of horses, especially if foals. The solutions are there but sometimes it seems as if you do not want to take.

According to Dr. Liberatore electric fences give good results and I'm not so expensive as they say, at least compared to a normal fence.

"We must know how to do - report Dr. Liberatore - be careful not scattered on the ground and check the batteries. With the wolf can live with. There is a danger to humans and livestock for the solution there. " Just want it, in fact.

The wolf that has plundered the Pit Bull is not the only one of its surroundings. There are probably others but, as reported by Dr. Liberatore, there is no warning and there is no reason that there is. E 'already so for quite some time. We are right behind the historic site of the Apennines to whom we owe the salvation of the wolf. The National Park Lazio, Abruzzo and Molise. To return to live among the fables, or the days of Little Red Riding Hood and the big bad wolf, there is no just no need. Sooner or later this cold end. Ungulates resume possession of the high altitude pastures and the wolf will follow them. And 'so who knows how much time and many hope that this will continue to be so.

[Image: inverno-2012-044.jpg] [Image: inverno-2012-029.jpg] [Image: inverno-2012-027.jpg]

Copyright © GeaPress - All rights reserved 

Source : Translated Article
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
No Fear of the 'Big Bad Wolf:' Feeding Habits of German Wolves Investigated

ScienceDaily (Mar. 19, 2012) — Scientists of the Senckenberg Research Institute in Görlitz have been investigating the feeding habits of wolves in the first eight years since their appearance in Germany. The results are reassuring: The proportion of livestock on the menu lies at less than one percent. The related study was published recently in the journal Mammalian Biology.

For a long time, wolves had been wiped out in Germany, now they are slowly getting back home. But not everyone is happy at the return of the wild animal. The feeding habits of Canis lupus are the subject of many legends and fables. Wolves that tear sheep apart, eat household pets and even attack people -- the return of the predators to German regions awakens fear and generates conflict amongst its inhabitants, hunters and farmers.

"The dietary habits of wolves has been the greatest point of contention with their return to Germany and it induced us to examine in closer detail the feeding habits of the wolves that migrated to Lusatia over ten years ago," explains Hermann Ansorge, head of the Zoology Department at the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History in Görlitz. "We took a look at what was on the menu for the wolves and how this has changed since the appearance of wolves in East Germany."

For this purpose the scientists collected over 3000 samples of wolf scat and tested them for undigested evidence of the animals' prey, such as hair, bones, hooves or teeth.

Using this information, supplemented by the findings of the remains of prey, it was possible for the Görlitz zoologists to determine the nutritional intake of the carnivores in detail. Wild ungulates accounted for over 96% of the wolves' prey, according to the investigation. The majority of these were roe deer (55.3%), followed by red deer (20.8%) and wild boar (17.7%). A small proportion of the prey was accounted for by the hare, at almost 3 percent.

"Less than one percent of the prey analysed was of livestock origins" adds Ansorge, continuing: "As long as sheep and other livestock are well protected and there is a sufficient supply of wild animals, the wolves will not risk confrontation with electric fences and guardian dogs."

The Görlitz zoologists investigated not only what the wolves are eating nowadays, but also how their feeding habits have changed over the years. Wolves are highly adaptable in terms of their dietary intake. For example, it is known from Canada that the wolf packs there feast on salmon in the autumn time.

"We were interested to find out how, why and how quickly the dietary composition of the wolf has changed in Saxony" explains Ansorge. The wolves in Lusatia came to Germany from Poland. There, the packs lived primarily on red deer, in contrast to the German wolves. During the early years of the study, the proportion of red deer eaten was considerably higher, whilst the ratio of roe deer was accordingly lower than in the subsequent five years. "We asked ourselves why the wolves changed their behaviour or whether the initial conditions had changed," the Görlitz zoologist continues.

In comparison to the Polish forests, those in Lusatia tend to be smaller and crossed by paths and fields. They offer the perfect expansive living space for roe deer and wild boar, whilst red deer tend to retreat to the more spacious wooded areas. Roe deer are therefore a simple and frequent prey from the wolves' perspective.

The shift in eating patterns therefore resulted from the change in the environmental conditions. The wolves quickly adapted -- they required less than two generations to become used to the new conditions of the landscape in East Germany.

Since the legal protection of wolves was introduced in 1990, it has taken more than ten years for the wolves in Germany to make themselves at home and bear pups on the Muskau Heath (a military training area). At the present time, nine wolf packs live in Lusatia with around 34 young. "The potential for conflict between man and wolf is very low" Ansorge sums up the results of the study. "There really is nothing standing in the way of the wolf returning."

[Image: 120319094514-large.jpg]
The wolf awakens unfounded fear in many.

Journal Reference:

Carina Wagner, Maika Holzapfel, Gesa Kluth, Ilka Reinhardt, Hermann Ansorge. Wolf (Canis lupus) feeding habits during the first eight years of its occurrence in Germany. Mammalian Biology - Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.mambio.2011.12.004
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
Red Dog Wrote:Vancouver Island wolf weights and morphological measurements. Adult males and females average 36.6 kg (81 lbs) and 30.5 kg (67 lbs), respectively.

[Image: VancouverWolfWeights.jpg]

Red Dog Wrote:Deer, caribou (barren ground), and Dall sheep main defense against wolves is escape and are usually easily killed if caught. In reality gray wolves are less suited to preying on whitetail deer than smaller, but faster/more agile, red/eastern wolves. Red/eastern wolves historically occurred in areas with whitetail deer while gray wolves generally resided in areas with elk, moose, and bison. Speed and agility are a more important factor than fighting capability in successfully preying on these evasive prey species.

IMHO, an ungulate deterring a predator is not indicative of how an all-out fight would end up. The ungulate is fighting for its life while the wolf is simply fighting for a meal. The opportunity cost for a wolf is not high if it choose to go after another moose or elk, since wolves can efficiently travel to hunt another animal. Therefore, the wolf's incentive to go all-out in the attack will be much less than the ungulate.

Source: "The Wolf", David Mech, 1970

[Image: MechDeerWolves1.jpg]

[Image: MechDeer2.jpg]

Note how wolves generally attack caribou in the front of animal unlike moose which are much more dangerous.

[Image: WolfKillingTechniqueopnCaribouVsMoose.jpg]

Dall sheep are easily killed if away from steep terrain.

[Image: MechDallSheepWolves.jpg]

Buck killed by wolf:

[Image: WolfKillingBuck001.jpg]

Doe Killed by wolf:

Red Dog Wrote:Largest Yellowtone Wolf.

Wolf 760 from Yellowstone Delta Pack weighed 147 lbs with an empty stomach. This wolf could have weighed 10-20 lbs. more with a full stomach! This would be pretty close to world record sized wolf of 175 lbs.

“When we weighed 760 (DELTA), he had a truly empty stomach, which I know because the effects of the drug cause them to vomit sometimes, and he was puking bile. So he weighed 147 pounds with nothing in his stomach.
I’ve been studying wolves for 32 years, and 760 was a sight to behold. I’ve handled hundreds of wolves, yet I thought he was a wonder of nature. And then I just started thinking in my head as I looked at him, he lives in the most remote area of the lower 48, and this is the kind of wolf that remoteness produces.”- DOUG SMITH

Taipan Wrote:
Canidae Wrote:I think black wolves have had past hybridisation with dogs; maybe it's something in the domestic dog alleles when they first enter the gene pool?
The full article is posted in page 1 of this profile:

Wolf In Dog's Clothing? Black Wolves May Be First 'Genetically Modified' Predators

Molecular and evolutionary history of melanism in North American gray wolves. Science, Feb 5, 2009

Red Wrote:This is the story of two Yellowstone wolves, Lamar Canyon alpha 832F (“The ’06 Female”) and Blacktail disperser 777M. One continues to live an amazing life and one has died a valiant death. Each epitomizes what it means to live life to the fullest, risking all for self and family—living by the laws of nature, fighting the good fight and living wild.

The words awesome and awe inspiring don’t even come close to adequately describing Yellowstone’s most amazing wolf, “The ’06 Female.” Leader of the Lamar Canyon pack, mastermind, protector and provider extraordinaire, “’06” does it all!

One early morning in Round Prairie, we witnessed an incredible spectacle as “’06” once again brought down an elk entirely by herself. We could hear their heavy breathing and see the steam rising as the two splashed through Soda Butte Creek right in front of us. The chase was especially astounding because “’06” was running on only three good legs, having injured a rear leg six days before.

The small crowd gasped as the wolf got in front and leaped at the elk’s nose. The cow twisted and lashed out at her attacker with her right front hoof, sending “’06” under water in a shower of spray.

The wolf resurfaced but fell behind, and we thought that the elk would get away. But “‘06” kept on, grabbing the elk’s throat as the two went out of sight into a small stand of trees. Minutes later, ‘”06” emerged and bedded nearby to rest, but the elk never made it out of the trees.
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
Red Wrote:Wolf pair kill adult moose. Note how adult pair attacked moose while pups stayed back and away. Also, note the violence of the attack as the alpha male was "jolted up and down in air" by moose, received "pummeling kicks", and were "dragged over logs and thrown against trees." The male wolf maintained its hold on moose's rear legs almost the entire time through all of this.

No mention of moose sex, but it surely must have been an adult. 

Source: Isle Royale 1989-1990 Annual Report
[Image: 450PairKillofAdultMoose.jpg]

Ursus Wrote:Banff National Park interspecific competition:

We review previous studies and provide new evidence for interspecific
competition between wolves and cougars in BNP. It is important to note
that wolf-cougar interactions were studied only late in recolonization
(2000–2004), which may have missed different dynamics early in wolf re-
colonization. First, we estimated the rate at which two wolf packs usurped
cougar kills during one winter (2000/01) using the methods of Hebble-
white et al. (2004) by backtracking wolves in snow. Two wolf packs were
monitored for 93 and 111 days out of a 185-day winter period. Wolves in
the two packs scavenged 0.032 (+0.006 95% CI ) and 0.009 (+0.0001) kills
per day from cougars, or 5.7 and 1.6 cougar kills per winter by these two
packs. During this same period, cougars scavenged no wolf kills. These re-
sults were confirmed in more detail by Kortello et al. (2007), who studied
multi-scale interactions between wolves and cougars during 2001–2004.
In terms of habitat use, Kortello et al. (2007) found cougars consistently
avoided wolves at fine spatial scales. At kill sites, cougars never usurped wolf
kills (n=152), but wolves usurped 12% of all cougar kills, scavenged 25% of
all cougar kills, and cougars scavenged wolf kills only 4% of the time. In
terms of total predation impact, Kortello et al. (2007) found wolves were
removing 16–21% of the elk population vs. cougars who removed 1–4%,
confirming an asymmetry of competitive ability. And during elk popula-
tion declines (caused in part by wolves), cougars switched their diet from
70% elk in 2000/01 to 70% mule deer and bighorn sheep in 2003/04. This
switch occurred one year before wolves switched following elk declines,
further suggesting asymmetric competitive ability. We expanded this diet
analysis by examining 389 wolf-killed and 70 cougar-killed prey located
from 1987 to 2000 following methods of Huggard (1993c) and Hebble-
white et al. (2004). Cougars killed significantly more bighorn sheep and
deer than wolves, who killed more elk (Fig. 1.3.4, overall χ2(d.f.=5) = 467.1,
p<0.00001; elk, sheep, and deer were significantly different). Finally,
Kortello (2005) documented 17% of collared cougar mortality (one of six
deaths) were caused by wolves (i.e., direct interference competition), and
starvation as a cause of death in at least two of the other mortalities. Based
on these studies, wolf recolonization in BNP negatively affected cougars
asymmetrically through both interference competition (direct mortality)
and exploitative competition through kleptoparasitism by wolves of cougar
kills. Cougars appeared to respond by shifting their diet from elk to deer
and sheep.

In terms of wolf-grizzly competition, 35 observations of interactions at
carcasses of large ungulate prey were recorded in BNP and the surrounding
region during 1989–1996 (7 ground, 28 aerial; P. C. Paquet, unpublished
data). Out of these observations of conflicts for possession of carcasses, the
following outcomes were observed: three (9%) cases where wolves killed
cubs (interference competition) with no attack observed on the female;
19 (54%) cases of wolves successfully usurping kills made by single bears
(the sex of which was unknown); 6 (17%) adult bears pushing packs of <4
wolves off wolf-killed carcasses (larger wolf packs were never pushed off);
3 (9%) cases of carcass defence by wolves where bears were intercepted
at a distance (>1km) from the kill, and 4 (11%) neutral or undetermined
outcomes. Moreover, in regional studies of radio-collared wolf survival,
no cases of grizzly-caused mortality were ever discovered (n>100 wolves;
(Callaghan 2002); M. Hebblewhite, unpublished data). Therefore, in BNP,
wolves seemed capable of out-competing grizzlies through interference
and exploitative competition.

Yellowstone National Park Interspecific Competition:
The most dramatic example of interference competition was the 50% re-
duction of the coyote population by wolf predation (Crabtree & Sheldon
1999). Most of the reduction was from direct killing at wolf kills where
coyotes attempted to scavenge and were killed (Crabtree & Sheldon 1999;
Ballard et al. 2003). Wolves rarely consumed the coyotes. Coyotes visit
virtually every kill made by wolves and wolves do not prevail only when
coyotes outnumber a lone wolf. Most wolf-caused coyote mortality oc-
curred at kills in YNP (Ballard et al. 2003). Recently, however, coy-
otes appear to be adapting to wolf presence through changes in use of
the landscape (e.g., spatial) and socially by living in smaller group sizes
(J. Sheldon, unpublished data). The pre-wolf number of coyote packs in
Lamar Valley was 11, after wolves were released this declined to 6, and
has recently increased again to 12 (R. L. Crabtree & J. Sheldon, personal
communication), which may be a result of the recent decline in wolf num-
bers (Fig. 1.3.5). Exploitative competition does not seem to be occurring
between wolves and coyotes.
Unlike wolf-coyote interactions, there is evidence for both interfer-
ence and exploitation competition between wolves and cougars. Wolves
are dominant to cougars, probably because of large pack size, and wolves
have killed seven cougars in YNP, whereas cougars have only killed two
wolves (Ruth 2004). Cougar and wolf researchers have used GPS collars
to document kills made by cougars that were usurped by wolves (Ruth
2004). While cougars and wolves in YNP use prey and habitat differently
in a manner expected to reduce competition, spatial restriction in space-
use of cougars has occurred since wolves were reintroduced, suggesting
asymmetric competition (Ruth 2004). Exploitative competition between
wolves and cougars appears to be minimal as cougar prey selection and
kill rates have not changed compared with pre-wolf monitoring (Murphy
1998; Ruth 2004). However, should prey continue to decline and become
more limiting, future competition for prey cannot be ruled out.
Both interference and exploitative competition between wolves and
grizzly bears is an important intra-guild change following wolf reintroduc-
tion. In terms of interference competition, wolves have not killed adults,
but have killed grizzly bear cubs (Ballard et al. 2003; Gunther & Smith
2004). Female grizzly bears with cubs rarely use carcasses, but this might
not be because of wolves, but to avoid infanticide from males (Swenson
et al. 1997). To examine the relative strength of exploitative competition,
we observed 122 interactions of wolves and grizzly bears at carcasses from
1996 to 2006, 63 of which were aerial and 59 ground observations. Out of
these observations for possession of the carcass, we observed the following:
4 (3%) cases where wolves killed grizzly bear cubs (direct interference com-
petition); 2 (2%) cases of wolves usurping kills made by bears; 30 (25%)
with bears pushing packs of <4 wolves off wolf-killed carcasses; 23 (19%)
bears pushing packs of >4 wolves off wolf-killed carcasses; 8 (7%) cases of
adult bears usurping carcasses from wolves that died of unknown causes; 2
cases (2%) of packs of <4 wolves usurping carcasses from bears that died of
unknown causes; 3 cases of packs >4 wolves usurping bears off of carcasses
that died from unknown causes and 50 (41%) cases of neutral or unknown
outcome. In summary, of the known outcomes bears prevailed in 61 (85%)
of 71 encounters with wolves at carcasses. Moreover, in one area of YNP,
Pelican Valley, where grizzly bear densities are very high, every kill made
by wolves from March through October was usurped by grizzly bears
(YNP Wolf Project, unpublished data). The effects of this on the pack are
unknown, but reproductive failure has occurred twice since 1996, a higher
rate than for northern range YNP wolf packs. This pack is also plagued
with low pup survival, though a direct link to kleptoparasitism by grizzly
bears is yet to be established.

From "1.3 Wolf Community Ecology: Ecosystem Effects of Recovering Wolves in Banff and Yellowstone National Parks" by Mark Hebblewhite and Doug W. Smith.

Red Wrote:Below is a study of craniodental morphology of Iranian wolves. The key finding is one wolf had a very long upper canine - 3.642 cm - the largest I've ever seen. Interestingly these are small wolves with the largest wolf skull being substantially smaller than an average Mackenzie Valley Wolf skull.

Source: R. Khosravi & M. Kaboli & J. Imani & E. Nourani, "Morphometric variations of the skull in the Gray Wolf
(Canis lupus) in Iran", Acta Theriol
DOI 10.1007/s13364-012-0089-6, 2012

The wolf subspecies found in Iran and where study samples came from are Canis lupus cubanensis (Caucuses subspecies), Canis lupus lupus (European subspecies) and Canis lupus pallipes (Indian/Iranian subspecies)

Wolves in Iran are considered one (Mech and Boitani
2004) or two subspecies (International Wolf Center
(2012), with populations in the
south Caspian region belonging to the Caucasian subspecies
(C. lupus cubanensis), populations in the northeast
belonging to European subspecies (C. lupus lupus)
of Europe, and wolves in other regions of Iran belonging
to the Indian/Iranian subspecies, C. lupus pallipes.

The descriptions of measurements are listed as follows:

[Image: IranianWolfSkullMorphology1_zps279428ae.jpg]

Measurements from above are shown on this scale (numbers between chart and image below correspond together):

[Image: IranianWolfSkullMorphology3_zpsc53f8357.jpg]

Additionally, the following ratios were also included:

Skull index (zygomatic width×100/skull length)

Skull index-1 (frontal breadth×100/skull

Cranial index (cranial width×100/cranial length)

Basal index (zygomatic width×100/basal length)

Basal index-1 (cranial width×100/basal length)

Length width index (skull length/zygomatic width)

Actual Measurements

[Image: IranianWolfSkullMorphology2_zpsf66e0aad.jpg]

Red Wrote:From Isle Royale Winter Study:

It's Complicated

2 Feb - The morning weather has become invariably repetitious.  But by 1pm, the skies cleared enough to permit a flight. 

At 1pm, Isabelle travelled down Washington Harbor, then along the shore of Grace Harbor.  Her travel ban appears to have been lifted.  Given her direction and pace, we wondered whether she might be headed to Feldtmann Lake?  Does she know about the moose carcass there - the one that Pip and company abandoned last week?  She may not have eaten in quite some time.  

At the same time, Pip and company were just waking from a nap beneath a large spruce on the south shore.  They got each other excited like dogs sometimes do, howled, and began traveling southwest along the shoreline.  Just fifty meters from their resting site, we found the trampled snow, scattered bones, and scavenging fox showing where they'd killed a moose - the reason they'd stayed here for the past several days.  Unless they find something along the shoreline today - like another moose to kill -  they'll likely be back to the old kill site at Feldtmann by nightfall.  

Up at the east end of the island, we searched for the east-end trio of wolves - the remnants of Chippewa Harbor Pack.  We flew the usual circuit of lakes and drainages, straining our eyes for wolf tracks in the flat light of the cloud-filtered sun.  We hoped as much as we strained - hoped to get lucky in seeing the wolves themselves out on one of these lakes.  Intermediate Lake to Richie, onto Lesage, Livermore, and Chickenbone, and then McCargo Cove...  After an hour we found nothing.  We landed for a short break and to stretch our legs.  We then ran the circuit a second time.  This time we focused a little more on some of the drainages at the far northeast end of Isle Royale, which had still been cloaked in lake-effect snow clouds during our first run of the circuit.  We found tracks along a narrow valley that extends southwest from Duncan Bay.  We could follow them only for about a mile.  Wind had blown the tracks out when they got on Duncan Bay.  At the other end, the tracks disappeared into the forest.  In the flat light, there was no hope of following them any further.

We turn the Flagship southwest to check on those wolves.  Pip and company had covered considerable ground in the ninety or so minutes since we had last seen them and had just rounded The Head, the southern-most point on Isle Royale. 

Isabelle's signal was surprisingly close.  By the time we saw her, she was running for her life, north along the beach of Rainbow Cove.  She was being chased by Pip's two companions.  Pip was nowhere in sight.  While those two wolves have been eating regularly, Isabelle may not have had a decent meal in weeks, perhaps longer.  Isabelle's half-mile lead was reduced to nothing in just a few minutes.  

By the time they reached the middle of Rainbow Cove, the smaller of the two tackled Isabelle.  They both tumbled into Lake Superior.  At +5F, they rolled in chest-deep water.  The second, larger wolf stopped at the water's edge ready to attack, but hesitated, apparently less enthusiastic to dive in.  

Isabelle and her assailant were a seething pile of swiping paws, flailing tails, and striking teeth as they rolled in the breaking surf.  Isabelle got in a few good bites, and dodged several others.  Then the second wolf dove in.  They both attacked Isabelle.  She took several bites on the back, belly, and near her neck.  This was no scrappy dog fight.  These wolves lunged and sank their teeth into Isabelle with the same fury and power they use to bring down a nine hundred pound moose.  Any well placed bite could tear a gaping wound, deliver considerable damage to internal organs, or cause severe internal bleeding.  I think they are going to kill her.  

Unable to take any more hits, she slipped lose and began swimming.  She didn't stop until she was about thirty meters offshore.  Waves were building in the 20 knot winds.  She'd take a mouthful of water with some of the larger waves.  She was stuck between a watery death and the bone-breaking jaws of two violent wolves.  After about ten minutes, she couldn't take the cold water any longer.  

While Isabelle was swimming, Pip finally showed up on the beach, about four minutes after the attack began.

As Isabelle came to shore, when her feet touched bottom, she curled her lips, bared her teeth, and waved her head back and forth, threatening counterattack to any advance.  She fought, but in her condition, there was no way she could fend off two wolves.  The two assailants kept Isabelle in water up to her knees and often up to her chest.  They attacked, retreated to dry ground for a moment or two, and attacked again. Occasionally, a breaking wave would overtake all three of them.  This cycle of attack-retreat-attack went on for the next twenty minutes.  Each attack was terrifying.     

Pip never participated.  He only watched.  It's complicated.  Pip and Isabelle are brother and sister.  This spring they fed from the same carcasses in Chippewa Harbor Territory, the pack to which they were born.  Since that time both dispersed from their natal territory, each hoping to find a mate.  We no longer wonder about the identity of Pip's companions.  Pip seems to have ingratiated himself to the West-end duo. The male of that duo is his brother.  The female is the last surviving member of Middle Pack, which died out a couple years ago.  His ingratiating behavior is motivated by hopes that he might someday endear himself to be Isabelle's female assailant.  The male assailant is also a brother (probably half-brother) to Isabelle, though this may be the first time they've ever met.  It's no less than anything Shakespeare had ever penned.   

Thirty minutes after it all began, the wolves gave Isabelle a break.  They backed off twenty yards, leaving her alone at the water's edge.  She stood on guard for a few moments, then sat, and once or twice she laid down.  But she never set her head down. She did not give in to the cold, pain, or fatigue.  They could have killed her, but they didn't - yet.  Mercy or torture?

Higher on the beach, Pip's companions rolled in the snow, scratched vigorously at the cobblestones, rubbed chests against each other.  Even Pip joined the celebrations.  All the while, waves occasionally washed over Isabella's hind end.  A couple of times she tried to walk away, along the water's edge.  Each time the female charged - forcing Isabelle to stay on the edge of the water and on the edge of life itself.  This went on for another thirty minutes.

Then the trio left the beach altogether, heading in the general direction of their old kill site near Feldtmann Lake.  A few minutes later, Isabelle was able to leave the beach.  She limped away into the nearby swamp.  Then night fell.

What could justify such violence and brutality?  Wolves know much more than we typically give them credit for knowing.  But I don't think, though I'm not certain, that justification is a concept that wolves understand.  The explanation for the violence, the motivation that drove Isabelle's assailant is simple - to eliminate a female who might steal a mate or raise pups that would later grow to become deadly competition.  What Isabelle's assailant did not know is that every surviving male wolf on Isle Royale is a brother to Isabelle.  Isabelle's reproductive future was very much in doubt before this attack.

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Isabelle being chased by her assailant

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Isabelle attacked while her brother, Pip looks on

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From left to right: Isabelle, female wolf, male wolf, Pip

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Pip, sniffing the reproductive organs of the female assailant, hoping to become her mate

3 Feb – Twenty-five knot winds kept us wondering whether Isabelle survived the night.  Just before nightfall, the wind eased just a bit.  Twenty-four hours after the assault, Pip and company were bedded near their old kill site.  Isabelle was bedded just a mile away in a forest just in from Rainbow Point.

4 Feb – The air was still and the sun was bright – first day like it all winter.  Isabelle got up, walked to the shore, and then traveled north up the beach where she’d been beaten so badly.  She didn’t limp.  She moved smooth and quick over the ice and rocks.  Her pelage was a little disheveled, but that’s all. 

Pip and the West-end Duo were also traveling north along the same beach, about four miles in front of Isabelle.  By late afternoon, Pip and the West-end Duo were sleeping on Beaver Island.

Late in the afternoon, Isabelle walked out on the ice of Grace Harbor.  About a quarter mile from land, she laid down.  She looked like a corpse.  But by night fall she had moved. We were unsure to where.  If she survives another day, I’d guess she’ll survive any injuries she sustained.  I’m not as sure about her long term prospects.

Update  on February 6

Isabelle’s collar told us she was in the same place she’d been yesterday.  The collar she wears has a mortality mode.  It’ll give a different signal if it doesn’t move for more than six hours.  But sometimes the switch fails and the collar never goes into mortality mode.  And sometimes, as foxes and ravens scavenge from the carcass, they nudge and jiggle the collar just frequently enough.

We circled and circled, hoping to see her with our eyes to know that she was alive.  No luck.  The flagship is equipped with two antennas, one on each wing.  We have a switch box allowing us to listen through just one antenna at a time.  We flew the spine of a ridge.  The right antenna gave the stronger signal – she’s south of the ridge top.  We flew along the bottom of the ridge.  The left antenna was stronger – she’s on that slope.  Then we flew transects across the ridge.  First pass – she’s on the left.  Our second pass was further to the east – she was on the left again.  Third pass…  After eight or ten passes in each direction, we pin-pointed the collar’s location to probably within twenty meters or so.  We had gone through the same exercise yesterday.  Isabelle seems to have moved about a hundred meters from yesterday’s location.

Update February 8

Why did they stop tracking that lone wolf?  The West-end Duo seems to be ruthlessly tracking Isabelle.  Perhaps it is because these wolves are on semi-friendly terms with this loner, or maybe their concern over loners ends at the boundary of their territory.

Isabelle began the day a couple miles or so from where she’d been the previous two days: across Washington Harbor and farther north on a sunny knob where she sprawled out in the afternoon sun.  Her posture was still unusual, as it had been for the past several days.  She laid on her sternum with rear leg extended and head flat on the snow.  She rose and sat straddle-legged, watching her back trail for a while, then plopped back onto the snow and resumed that awkward position.  There was no blood in her snowy bed or any visible injuries, at least from our vantage point.

Sometime in the morning darkness, the West-end Duo and Pip began traveling west along the south shore from Log Point (site D).  They left behind a largely intact moose carcass with much left to eat on it.  These wolves are not wanting for food.  Their entire path showed a double track with the male and female walking side-by-side the entire way.  They will breed soon. 

We have no idea what their intention was when they left this morning, but by midday they had found the place where Isabelle had been for the past two days, recuperating from her previous beating. They then crossed Washington Harbor and continued their sweep by sticking to the outer shore until reaching the steep cliffs of the north shore, where they were forced inland.

By this time, the West-end Duo and Pip were just a mile or two from Isabelle, and heading directly toward her.  Rolf and Don wondered what drama they might witness next.  The trio of wolves was on a higher ridge.  The wind carried Isabelle’s scent away from the Trio.  They passed right by, missing Isabelle by only a quarter mile.  Oblivious to any imminent danger, Isabelle continued to snooze away the afternoon.  Rolf and Don continued following the trio as they moved onto the park trail that runs along the north shore from Hugginin Cove.  Suddenly, the wolves moved inland and began running in the opposite direction.  They caught only glimpses of them in the thick forest cover, and were puzzled as the wolves seemed to be running occasionally in the opposite direction, and generally moving away from Isabelle’s current location.  It seems as though the trio had just encountered for the first time tracks that Isabelle had made two weeks ago. She had spent about five days localized in this area.  Following these tracks took the trio farther from Isabelle.  By the time the trio was about three miles away, running in the opposite direction, Rolf and Don opted to leave the scene to search other areas of the island for tracks of wolves we hope exist, but we have yet to discover.  The snow was fresh and the sun was bright – perfect conditions for such a search. 

Life’s drama doesn’t require our presence and it does not wait for us to show up.  While Rolf and Don were looking for other tracks, much had happened.  The trio had found Isabelle’s fresh trail, tracked her, and had attacked in a desperate running battle that now stood on the north shore about three miles from Isabelle’s morning bed.  The West-end Duo had isolated Isabelle on an ice covered rocky promontory, twenty feet above the waters of Lake Superior (site F on map).

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The West-end Duo (right side of image) have Isabelle trapped on an ice-cover rock promontory, twenty feet above Lake Superior.  Pip lies just outside the frame of this image, and seems not to have participated in this event.

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The female of the West-end Duo lay just behind shoreline trees, her sight focused on Isabelle’s every move.  Her presumed mate licked her back, suggesting that she’d sustained injuries from Isabelle.  Pip was curled up in the background- far enough to be uninvolved with the mayhem that surrounded his sister Isabelle, but close enough to the other female, hoping for an unlikely opportunity to gain her favor.

There was blood in the snow where Isabelle sat.  She had open wounds on both rear flanks and her right shoulder, in addition to the torn flesh on her left rear foot – an injury from several days earlier.  It’ll be another long night for Isabelle.

9 Feb – Wind and clouds allowed only a very short flight.  We flew straight to the promontory.  Two ravens sat on the blood soaked snow where Isabelle had been.  Another raven flew circles above.  An eagle sat in a nearby tree.  We never saw Isabelle, but her collar was not in mortality mode, and the signal said she was about half a mile northeast of the promontory.  The West-end Duo slept on the ridge top about two miles to the south.  

10 Feb – The weather was too poor to do anything except fly once around the harbor.  We did that.  Doing so was enough to hear that all of the wolves were in about the same location as yesterday.  And, if her collar is telling the truth, Isabelle is still alive.

Canidae Wrote:Deer killed by wolves - specifics from papers.

Whilst wolves may be killed occaisionally by prey with a large size disparity and/ or impressive weaponry (Elk, Wapiti and Bison) there are a few records of wolves being killed by deer species (Mule and Whitetail). However, in the two recorded incidences mentioned here it seems the wolves are substandard. In one instance mentioned, it was a rabid animal. Whilst this may lend it extra, stupid aggression the disease overall is very severe to an animal. In this reported incidence it was a small - 34 kg (74 lbs) - female who was possibly young -estimated 1 - 3 years - and inexperienced.
Other literature such as accounts earlier posted by Reddhole and the paper by Michael Nelson - "Killing and Caching of an Adult White Tailed Deer, Odocioleus virginianus by a single Grey Wolf, Canis Lupus." Which has a lone wolf killing a 8 year old, 50% marrow fat, 89 kg stag with a throat hold - shows deer are normally easy prey for wolves not substandard.

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Vita Wrote:Wolves lose their predatory edge in mid-life, new U of M study shows

Contacts: Peggy Rinard, College of Biological Sciences, (612) 624-0774 
Patty Mattern, University News Service, (612) 624-2801 or 

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (10/22/2009) —Although most wolves in Yellowstone National Park live to be nearly six years old, their ability to kill prey peaks when they are two to three, according to a study led by Dan MacNulty and recently published online by Ecology Letters. The study will appear in the journal’s December print issue.  

The finding challenges a long-held belief that wolves are successful predators for their entire adult lives. It now appears that like human athletes, they are only at the top of their game for about 25 percent of that time. It also shows that physiology can limit predation. 

“Wolves are not perfect predators,” says MacNulty, a postdoctoral researcher in the College of Biological Sciences’ Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. “They lack physical characteristics to kill prey swiftly, so they rely on athletic ability and endurance, which diminishes with age. They’re like 100-meter sprinters. They need to be in top condition to perform.”

By comparison, mountain lions, with their short snouts, powerful muscles and retractable claws, are designed to kill, MacNulty says. Not surprisingly, they live and hunt alone. 
In Yellowstone, wolves, who hunt in packs, depend on elk for survival. The finding is timely because the park’s elk population is shrinking and wolves are being blamed. Wolves were hunted out of the area in the 1930s and re-introduced in 1995. But the study shows there isn’t a strong correlation between the number of wolves in the park and the number of elk killed.
MacNulty says that number fluctuates based on the age structure of the wolf population at any given time. The higher the proportion of wolves over age three, the lower the rate at which they kill elk. For every 10 percent rise in the proportion of wolves older than three, the kill rate declined 10 to 15 percent. He notes that the drop in the elk population is also attributable to drought and to Grizzly Bears. 
“Wolves are not the sole factor limiting Yellowstone’s elk population,” MacNulty says. 
When older wolves can no longer hunt successfully, younger wolves share their kill with them, in what MacNulty describes as a lupine version of Social Security. While a high ratio of old-to-young wolves may benefit elk, it could strain the wolf population because there aren’t enough workers to support retirees. 

Montana legalized hunting wolves after they were removed from the endangered species list in 2007. Although hunting is prohibited in the park, packs wander beyond it boundaries and radio-marked wolves have been killed. MacNulty says hunting won’t put the species at risk, but it actually skews the population towards younger wolves, which could mean more deaths, not fewer, for the elk.
MacNulty became a field biologist at Yellowstone after graduating from the University of Colorado in 1995, the year wolves were reintroduced, and focused his doctoral studies on their predatory behavior. He has continued tracking Yellowstone’s wolves as a University of Minnesota postdoctoral researcher for Craig Packer, the world’s foremost authority on lions. 
MacNulty’s next step is to create mathematical models to study the long-term effects of fluctuations in the age structure of Yellowstone’s wolf population on the elk population. His collaborators include Douglas Smith (Yellowstone Center for Resources); John Vucetich, Michigan Technological University) David Mech (US Geological Survey); Daniel Stahler (Yellowstone Center for Resources) and Craig Packer (University of Minnesota).

Red Wrote:35.1 Friday, Jan. 4 Sexual dimorphism in the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus): specialization for male-male competition or for male provisioning? MORRIS, J.S.*; BRANDT, E.; University of Utah; University of Utah

Sexual selection theory predicts that male mammals will be more specialized for physical competition than females. Specialization for aggression, however, may result in functional conflicts with locomotor demands. Characters associated with locomotor economy include long, gracile limbs that reduce the cost of transport by increasing stride length and decreasing the energy required to swing the limbs. In contrast, specialization for aggression appears to result in stout bones and large distal muscles with high mechanical advantage that increase force available to strike or manipulate opponents. Gray wolves (Canis lupus) are highly cursorial animals, traveling immense distances to locate and run down prey. Gray wolves also aggressively defend territory through direct competition and kill much larger, highly dangerous prey species. Because both sexes actively participate in these activities, a low level of musculo-skeletal sexual dimorphism is expected. However, males often lead in aggressive encounters with conspecifics and, for a period during the mating season, must kill prey without the assistance of the dominant female to provision her and their young. Thus, male wolves may exhibit a higher degree of morphological adaptation associated with aggressive activities. To assess sexual dimorphism in three distinct subspecies of gray wolves, a series of skeletal metrics were taken from fresh cadavers and museum specimens. All measures were size-corrected and analyzed to detect relative differences in size and shape. Males were found to have broader skulls, more robust limb bones, and higher muscle mechanical advantages than females, suggesting that males are more highly specialized for physical aggression. However, results for each subspecies differed substantially, likely reflecting differences in selective pressures on pursuit versus handling capabilities based on prey size.

Sicilianu Wrote:Production of Hybrids between Western Gray Wolves and Western Coyotes
By:Mech, LD (Mech, L. David)[ 1 ] ; Christensen, BW (Christensen, Bruce W.)[ 2 ] ; Asa, CS (Asa, Cheryl S.)[ 3 ] ; Callahan, M (Callahan, Margaret)[ 4 ] ; Young, JK (Young, Julie K.)[ 5 ]

Volume: 9  Issue: 2
Article Number: e88861
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088861
Published: FEB 25 2014
View Journal Information

Using artificial insemination we attempted to produce hybrids between captive, male, western, gray wolves (Canis lupus) and female, western coyotes (Canis latrans) to determine whether their gametes would be compatible and the coyotes could produce and nurture offspring. The results contribute new information to an ongoing controversy over whether the eastern wolf (Canis lycaon) is a valid unique species that could be subject to the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Attempts with transcervically deposited wolf semen into nine coyotes over two breeding seasons yielded three coyote pregnancies. One coyote ate her pups, another produced a resorbed fetus and a dead fetus by C-section, and the third produced seven hybrids, six of which survived. These results show that, although it might be unlikely for male western wolves to successfully produce offspring with female western coyotes under natural conditions, western-gray-wolf sperm are compatible with western-coyote ova and that at least one coyote could produce and nurture hybrid offspring. This finding in turn demonstrates that gamete incompatibility would not have prevented western, gray wolves from inseminating western coyotes and thus producing hybrids with coyote mtDNA, a claim that counters the view that the eastern wolf is a separate species. However, some of the difficulties experienced by the other inseminated coyotes tend to temper that finding and suggest that more experimentation is needed, including determining the behavioral and physical compatibility of western gray wolves copulating with western coyotes. Thus although our study adds new information to the controversy, it does not settle it. Further study is needed to determine whether the putative Canis lycaon is indeed a unique species.

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Figure 2. Three 6–7-month-old, littermate, F1 hybrids between a male, western, gray wolf and a female, western coyote resulting from artificial insemination.

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Figure 3. Facial view of two 6–7-month-old F1 hybrids between a male, western, gray wolf and a female, western coyote resulting from artificial insemination.

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Figure 4. Side view of a 6–7-month-old F1 hybrid between a male, western, gray wolf and a female, western coyote resulting from artificial insemination.

Link to full article can be found here:
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Wolf howl identification technology excites experts
Scientists crack wolves' howling code

By Michelle Warwicker
BBC Nature

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Which wolf is which? Experts may soon be able to monitor individual wild wolves by just their howls

Individual wild wolves can be recognised by just their howls with 100% accuracy, a study has shown.

The team from Nottingham Trent University, UK, developed a computer program to analyse the vocal signatures of eastern grey wolves.

Wolves roam huge home ranges, making it difficult for conservationists to track them visually.

But the technology could provide a way for experts to monitor individual wolves by sound alone.

"Wolves howl a lot in the wild," said PhD student Holly Root-Gutteridge, who led the research.

"Now we can be sure... exactly which wolf it is that's howling."

The team's findings are published in the journal Bioacoustics.

Singing wolves

Wolves use their distinctive calls to protect territory from rivals and to call to other pack members. "They enjoy it as a group activity," said Ms Root-Gutteridge, "When you get a chorus howl going they all join in."

The team's computer program is unique because it analyses both volume (or amplitude) and pitch (or frequency) of wolf howls, whereas previously scientists had only examined the animals' pitch.

"Think of [pitch] as the note the wolf is singing," explained Ms Root-Gutteridge. "What we've added now is the amplitude - or volume - which is basically how loud it's singing at different times."

"It's a bit like language: If you put the stress in different places you form a different sound."

The scientists put their new tool to the test by studying dozens of archive recordings of wild eastern grey wolf howls, living mainly in Algonquin park, Canada, and collected by the British Library in London.

Their success rate was 100% when recognising individual wolves from their solo howls. And they achieved an accuracy of 97% when identifying wolves calling together in a "chorus howl".

Ms Root-Gutteridge said that the technology is in the last stages of development but she hopes it can be used by conservationists in the wild in the near future.

"In scientific terms this is really exciting, because it means that if we hear a howl on one night we can tell if it is or isn't the same wolf that you hear on subsequent nights," she said.

Similar technology has been tested on captive wolf howls but this study is the first time such accurate results have been achieved from recordings taken from the wild, where varying conditions make recognition considerably more difficult.

Previously, an accuracy rate of 76% had been achieved by scientists using audio sampling to identify wild wolves.

"The two biggest challenges are getting 'clean' recordings... and sometimes the wolves just don't want to howl," said Ms Root-Gutteridge.

Experts have successfully used acoustic sampling to monitor other wild animals such as bats and marine mammals. Last week, scientists in Puerto Rico revealed audio technology that can recognise rainforest animals by the sounds they make.

Ms Root-Gutteridge speculated that her team's new vocal "extraction code" could be used in acoustic studies for "[other] wolves; coyotes; dogs. Anything that howls really".

Howling facts
  • A wolf howl can resonate over six miles.

  • The low pitch and long duration of a howl is well suited for long distance communication in forest and across tundra.

  • A lone wolf howls to attract the attention of its pack, while communal howling can act as a warning to rival packs to stay away.

  • Wolves may simply howl to join in with other wolves.

  • Wolves are able to recognise each other through the unique features of an individual's call.

Identifying individual wild Eastern grey wolves (Canis lupus lycaon) using fundamental frequency and amplitude of howls
Holly Root-Gutteridgea*, Martin Bencsikb, Manfred Cheblib, Louise K. Gentlea, Christopher Terrell-Nieldb, Alexandra Bouritb & Richard W. Yarnella 
Published online: 22 Jul 2013
Bioacoustics: The International Journal of Animal Sound and its Recording

The use of amplitudes to identify individuals has historically been ignored by bioacoustic researchers due to problems of attenuation. However, recent studies have shown that amplitudes encode identity in a variety of mammal species. Previously, individuality has been demonstrated in both fundamental frequency (F 0) and amplitude changes of captive Eastern wolf (Canis lupus lycaon) howls with 100% accuracy where attenuation of amplitude due to distance was controlled in a captive environment. In this study, we aim to determine whether both fundamental frequency and amplitude data collected from vocalizations of wild wolves recorded over unknown distances, in variable conditions and with different recording equipment, can still encode identity. We used a bespoke code, developed in Matlab, to extract simple scalar variables from 67 high-quality solo howls from 10 wild individuals and 112 chorus howls from another 109 individuals, including lower quality howls with wind or water noise. Principal component analysis (PCA) was carried out on the fundamental frequency and normalized amplitude of harmonic 1, yielding histogram-derived PCA values on which discriminant function analysis was applied. An accuracy of 100% was achieved when assigning solo howls to individuals, and for the chorus howls a best accuracy of 97.4% was achieved. We suggest that individual recognition using our new extraction and analysis methods involving fundamental frequency and amplitudes together can identify wild wolves with high accuracy, and that this method should be applied to surveys of individuals in capture–mark–recapture and presence–absence studies of canid species.
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Yellowstone wolves spur recovery of bears' berries

By Simon Redfern
Reporter, BBC News
29 July 2013 Last updated at 18:31 GMT 

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Wolves were re-introduced to the park in the 1990s in an effort to control elk numbers

The return of wolves to Yellowstone National Park may be leading to an improvement in the diet of grizzly bears, a study suggests.

When wolves were eradicated from Yellowstone in the early 20th Century, the elk population boomed, devastating berry-shrubs relied upon by bears.

Details are published in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

A team from Oregon and Washington links the reintroduction of predatory wolves with a fall in over-browsing by elk.

There is a consequent recovery in the availability of late-summer berries, the favoured pre-hibernation food of the grizzly bear.

The study indicates that the number of berries measured in bear droppings has doubled as elk numbers have decreased, following the wolves' return in the 1990s.

The complex interactions of the Yellowstone ecosystem were revealed in data measured before and after the reintroduction of wolves.

David Mattson, a US Geological Survey (USGS) wildlife biologist, commented previously on Yellowstone: "It's a complex system and grizzly bears are a kind of consummate connector of all of the species in that system."

The study shows that berry shrubs have increased since elk populations declined, and as shrubs recover from over-browsing the fruit consumption of bears has increased.

William Ripple, lead author, commented: "Wild fruit is typically an important part of grizzly bear diet, especially in late summer when they are trying to gain weight as rapidly as possible before winter hibernation".

"Elk browsing reducing berry production is well known in Europe as well," said Atle Mysterud, an ecologist from the University of Oslo.

"The study shows that new patches of berries have formed after the wolves were reintroduced. It is clear that berry production is very important for bears."

But the reduction in elk may not be all good news. Yellowstone's northern elk population hit 19,000 in 1988, but last winter the herd was estimated to number just 3,900 animals.

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Double-edged sword: the bears feed on berries in late summer... and elk in spring

Elk calves are an important food source for grizzly bears in the spring and Arthur Middleton of Yale University suggests that the decline in elk may pose a threat to the grizzly bear rather than a benefit, since their other spring food source, cutthroat trout, is also in decline.

"This is an interesting paper and it is important that we understand the consequences of wolf recovery", Dr Middleton added.

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The berry bushes also produce flowers of value to pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds

"But wolf re-introduction is not the only change that has occurred in recent years in Yellowstone. Bears eat elk and bear numbers have increased three or four times during this period.

Bears eat about three times as many elk calves as wolves do and it may be that reduction in elk numbers and the increase in berry eating is feature of the increase in bear numbers.

"Unfortunately, as wildlife ecologists working in a vast landscape such as the greater Yellowstone ecosystem it is very difficult to unravel the complexity of the patterns."

The latest results demonstrate that acknowledging the many inter-relationships between species and environments in these systems is key to understanding that complexity.

Journal Reference:
William J. Ripple, Robert L. Beschta, Jennifer K. Fortin, Charles T. Robbins. Trophic cascades from wolves to grizzly bears in Yellowstone. Journal of Animal Ecology, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12123

We explored multiple linkages among gray wolves (Canis lupus), elk (Cervus elaphus), berry-producing shrubs, and grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) in Yellowstone National Park.
We hypothesized competition between elk and grizzly bears whereby, in the absence of wolves, increases in elk numbers would increase browsing on berry-producing shrubs and decrease fruit availability to grizzly bears. After wolves were reintroduced and with a reduced elk population, we hypothesized there would be an increase in the establishment of berry-producing shrubs, such as serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) which is a major berry-producing plant. We also hypothesized that the percent fruit in the grizzly bear diet would be greater after than before wolf reintroduction.
We compared the frequency of fruit in grizzly bear scats to elk densities prior to wolf reintroduction during a time of increasing elk densities (1968-1987). For a period after wolf reintroduction, we calculated the percent fruit in grizzly bear scat by month based on scats collected in 2007–09 (n = 778 scats) and compared these results to a scat data collected before wolf reintroduction. Additionally, we developed an age structure for serviceberry showing the origination year of stems in a northern range study area.
We found that over a 19-year period, the percent frequency of fruit in the grizzly diet (6,231 scats) was inversely correlated (p < 0.001) with elk population size. The average percent fruit in grizzly bear scats was higher after wolf reintroduction in July (0.3% versus 5.9%) and August (7.8% versus 14.6%) than before. All measured serviceberry stems accessible to ungulates originated since wolf reintroduction, while protected serviceberry growing in a nearby ungulate exclosure originated both before and after wolf reintroduction. Moreover, in recent years, browsing of serviceberry outside of the exclosure decreased while their heights increased.
Overall, these results are consistent with a trophic cascade involving increased predation by wolves and other large carnivores on elk, a reduced and redistributed elk population, decreased herbivory, and increased production of plant-based foods that may aid threatened grizzly bears.
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Wolves Howl Because They Care: Social Relationship Can Explain Variation in Vocal Production

Aug. 22, 2013 — When a member of the wolf pack leaves the group, the howling by those left behind isn't a reflection of stress but of the quality of their relationships. So say researchers based on a study of nine wolves from two packs living at Austria's Wolf Science Center that appears in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, on August 22.
The findings shed important light on the degree to which animal vocal production can be considered as voluntary, the researchers say.
"Our results suggest the social relationship can explain more of the variation we see in howling behavior than the emotional state of the wolf," says Friederike Range of the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna. "This suggests that wolves, to a certain extent, may be able to use their vocalizations in a flexible way."
Scientists have known very little about why animals make the sounds that they do. Are they uncontrollable emotional responses? Or do animals have the ability to change those vocalizations based on their own understanding of the social context?
At the Wolf Science Center, human handlers typically take individual wolves out for walks on a leash, one at a time. On those occasions, they knew, the remaining pack mates always howl.
To better understand why, Range and her colleagues measured the wolves' stress hormone levels. They also collected information on the wolves' dominance status in the pack and their preferred partners. As they took individual wolves out for long walks, they recorded the reactions of each of their pack mates.
Those observations show that wolves howl more when a wolf they have a better relationship with leaves the group and when that individual is of high social rank. The amount of howling did not correspond to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
"Our data suggest that howling is not a simple stress response to being separated from close associates but instead may be used more flexibly to maintain contact and perhaps to aid in reuniting with allies," Range says.

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When a member of the wolf pack leaves the group, the howling by those left behind isn't a reflection of stress but of the quality of their relationships.

Journal Reference:
Francesco Mazzini, Simon W. Townsend, Zsófia Virányi, Friederike Range. Wolf Howling Is Mediated by Relationship Quality Rather Than Underlying Emotional Stress. Current Biology, 2013 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.06.066

While considerable research has addressed the function of animal vocalizations, the proximate mechanisms driving call production remain surprisingly unclear. Vocalizations may be driven by emotions and the physiological state evoked by changes in the social-ecological environment [1,2], or animals may have more control over their vocalizations, using them in flexible ways mediated by the animal’s understanding of its surrounding social world [3,4]. While both explanations are plausible and neither excludes the other, to date no study has attempted to experimentally investigate the influence of both emotional and cognitive factors on animal vocal usage. We aimed to disentangle the relative contribution of both mechanisms by examining howling in captive wolves. Using a separation experiment and by measuring cortisol levels, we specifically investigated whether howling is a physiological stress response to group fragmentation [5] and whether it is driven by social factors, particularly relationship quality [6,7]. Results showed that relationship quality between the howler and the leaving individual better predicted howling than did the current physiological state. Our findings shed important light on the degree to which animal vocal production can be considered as voluntary.
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How Wolf Packs Organize to Kill

Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News | April 04, 2014 01:30am ET

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Gray Wolf.

The way that wolves organize themselves into hunting packs depends upon the number of participating wolves and the social status of each wolf, suggests a new study in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

The methods show a striking resemblance to human-run businesses, which serve as another example of animal cooperation to meet a presumably shared goal. In the case of wolves, that goal is to kill other animals for survival.

There are benefits and drawbacks to such cooperation, however, as the authors point out.

“The cooperation of multiple hunters presumably sometimes allows them to successfully capture prey that none of them would be able to capture on their own,” Ramón Escobedo of the AEPA Euskadi, and his colleagues wrote. “This is the benefit of cooperation. On the other hand, those hunting together have to share their spoils; this is the cost of cooperation.”

When hunting prey, such as elk, the best number of organized wolves is four or five. Escobedo and his team share that the wolves can then form “a regular polygon” around the victim. Once surrounded, the victim has little chance of escaping, given the fast moves and steely sharp teeth of wolves.

This type of pack is also successful because each wolf participant gets a nice share of the meat reward, sustaining them and motivating them to work hard during the next hunt.

Computer modeling determined that wolf hunting parties larger than four or five look surprisingly like a socially structured group. The researchers suspect that the following scenario could explain one of these larger packs:

“A breeding pair stands (almost) still in the inner orbit, leading or conducting the hunt, while four inexperienced offspring move back and forth from the inner orbit to the outer and vice versa, and a single excited juvenile remains protected behind its progenitors.”

Dogs Not as Close Kin to Wolves as Thought

The young wolf, like a kid taken to a parent’s career day, then gets to learn by watching while remaining in a mostly passive, safe position.

The inclusion of younger, inexperienced wolves could benefit the pack in the long run, but in the short run, bringing in such participants can be a burden on the hard-working older wolves that now have to share their kills, earning less meat themselves.

Sound familiar? Businesses often force their workers to suffer similar growing pains for the sake of the company’s positioning and not for the sake of the individual participants.

Interestingly enough, prior studies on jackals, coyotes and African wild dogs also conclude that “small groups provide the optimal ratio of benefit-to-cost,” according to the paper. Many small business proponents would likely agree.

Wolves Howl Out of Loneliness

The researchers add, however, that larger animal groups organized for hunts reduce the loss of food to scavengers.

Escobedo and his team believe that complex collective behaviors can emerge from what starts off as a relatively simple situation. For wolves, that simple goal is how to best kill prey. The larger the number of wolves that participate in that effort, the more significant social organization becomes.
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Inbred wolves struggle, moose proliferate at Isle Royale National Park

Date: May 2, 2014
Source: Michigan Technological University
Inbreeding is killing off the wolves of Isle Royale National Park, and as a result, the moose are proliferating, threatening the vegetation on the remote Lake Superior island.

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Isle Royale wolves trek through the snow.

During their annual Winter Study at Isle Royale National Park, scientists from Michigan Technological University counted nine wolves organized into one breeding pack and a second small group that is a remnant of a formerly breeding pack.
In the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Study's annual report released today, the researchers say that over the past three years, they have tallied the lowest numbers of wolves ever: nine in 2011-12, eight in 2012-13 and nine in 2013-14. During the same period, predation rates -- the proportion of the moose population killed by wolves -- also dropped to the lowest ever recorded, while the number of moose doubled, to approximately 1,050 moose.
Wolves are the only predators of moose on the remote island national park in northwestern Lake Superior. The moose population has been increasing because wolf predation has been so low.
Wolves are Inbred
"The poor condition of wolf predation on Isle Royale appears to be caused by inbreeding," said John Vucetich, director of Michigan Tech's study of the wolves and moose of Isle Royale. In its 56th year, the research project is the longest continuous predator-prey study in the world.
In the annual report, Vucetich and Rolf Peterson, research professor in Michigan Tech's School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science and a codirector of the wolf-moose study, document analysis of the DNA of more than 1,000 fecal samples collected from wolves over the past 15 years. Doing so allowed them to construct a family tree from 1999 to 2013.
That pedigree enabled them to monitor the rate of inbreeding among the wolves. They found that an immigrant wolf, who eventually came to be known as the Old Gray Guy, came to the island across an ice bridge from Canada in 1997. He brought a fresh infusion of genes that so dominated the Isle Royale wolves' weakened gene pool that, by 2008, most of the wolves on the island were descended from the Old Gray Guy.
"This represents a very high standard of evidence that Isle Royale wolves had been suffering from inbreeding prior to the immigrant's arrival," says Vucetich.
In the 1960s, ice bridges between Isle Royale and the mainland formed seven out of every 10 winters, the scientists note. In the past 17 years since the immigrant's arrival, only two ice bridges have occurred, so the Old Gray Guy's descendants soon became highly inbred as well. In particular, a large portion of the Old Gray Guy's descendants were the result of two consecutive generations of close inbreeding. Of those wolves, all lived short lives, all were dead by 2011, and only one reproduced in this case, a single pup.
"Their short, unproductive lives appear to mark the waning benefits of the genetic rescue event that occurred with the immigrant's arrival in 1997," the scientists say in the annual report.
The wolves of Isle Royale were not there when the national park was established in 1940. They are believed to have crossed an ice bridge from Canada in the late 1940s.
Vucetich and Peterson have analyzed data from decades of scientists' field notes, trying to determine whether the Isle Royale wolves might have benefited from infusions of new genetic material from wolves crossing ice bridges on other occasions in the past. They found, for example, that a pack of seven or eight wolves, including four black ones, crossed an ice bridge to the island in 1967. Many of these wolves were still present a year later and may have rejuvenated the population, genetically speaking, about two decades after its founding.
In a paper just published in the journal Conservation Genetics, Peterson, Vucetich, Philip Hedrick of Arizona State University, Jennifer Adams of the University of Idaho and Michigan Tech's Leah Vucetich report on their study of the effects of this new genetic input. The Isle Royale study is significant, they write, because "few documented instances of genetic rescue have been observed long enough or in sufficient detail to understand how long one can expect the beneficial effects of genetic rescue to persist."
But ice bridges are two-way streets. In 1977, researchers observed a pack of wolves chase a pack mate half way to the mainland across an ice bridge. In 2008, the last time an ice bridge formed before this winter, two radio-collared wolves disappeared shortly after the ice bridge formed. And in late January 2014, an Isle Royale wolf crossed to the mainland on an ice bridge and was found dead as a result of an air pellet wound near Grand Portage, Minn.
Moose are Proliferating
Not limited by predation, moose are thriving on Isle Royale. In the past three years, their numbers have doubled; the vegetation that they eat is still plentiful, and the primary factor limiting their growth has probably been the severity of the past two winters, the researchers report.
Unless the next five winters are especially harsh, the moose population is likely to increase dramatically, the researchers say. Their concern is that, "the likely result would be significant and long-lasting harm to Isle Royale's forest."
No Genetic Rescue for Now
The scientists have recommended genetic rescue: bringing a few new wolves to Isle Royale to mitigate the effects of inbreeding. In their new Conservation Genetics paper, the researchers say, "Past gene flow also suggests that human-assisted gene flow is necessary to conserve the ecosystem services associated with predation, since climate warming has reduced the frequency of ice bridges and with it the only opportunity for unassisted gene flow.
Isle Royale National Park recently affirmed that as long as a breeding population of wolves exists on the island there would be no intervention in the near term. However, the Park Service will begin an expanded planning effort and environmental impact analysis for ecosystem management, focusing on moose and their impacts to the forest, as well as the dynamics between predator and prey.
"There is time to fully explore all the consequences of such an action," said Isle Royale National Park Superintendent Phyllis Green. "Bringing wolves to the island remains an option, however the final decision will be based on the best available sound science, accurate fidelity to the law and long-term public interest.
The annual report is available at
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Wolves will kill for more space, new USU study finds

By Amy Joi O'DonoghueMay 17th, 2014 @ 8:16pm

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Even wolves need their space, new USU study finds Dan Stahler, National Park Service

LOGAN — Having your own space not only brings peace of mind, but it also correlates strongly to a greater chance of survival for wolf families at Yellowstone National Park.

A new study involving Logan's Utah State University and University of Oxford found wolves will fight to the death to protect their turf if they lack adequate space to raise their pups.

The aggressive behavior of families looking out for their own is not limited to wolves, or the wilds of nature, said researcher Dan MacNulty, a USU ecologist and assistant professor in the Department of Wildland Resources.

"These family groups of wolves that are competing with each other for space and resources. That is not unlike humans," he said. "It is well-demonstrated that chimpanzees will compete and war with each other over space and resources and certainly humans are known to do so, if in a more sophisticated way."

The study, published in the online issue of the Journal of Animal Ecology in the British Ecological Society, followed 280 collared wolves in northern Yellowstone for 13 years.

"This study produced a generally novel result because the conventional thinking is that large carnivores are limited by the abundance of prey in a given area," MacNulty said. "But what these wolves are ultimately limited by is the amount of space they have to raise their pups in safety."

Wolves killing wolves is their No. 1 cause of death in Yellowstone and MacNulty said the research showed that adult survival rates dropped below 70 percent if there were greater than 65 wolves per 1,000 square kilometers.

"This study produced a generally novel result because the conventional thinking is that large carnivores are limited by the abundance of prey in a given area. But what these wolves are ultimately limited by is the amount of space they have to raise their pups in safety."
–Dan MacNulty, USU ecologist

These key observations in wolf infanticide may provide helpful lessons for management of wolf populations because of the insights they deliver, he said.

"For those concerned about wolf populations, even when you have super abundant prey like in Yellowstone, there are limits to wolf population growth. There is an intrinsic limit to the number of wolves that occupy a given space," MacNulty said, adding that because rival packs will attack and kill rival wolf pups, their numbers are self-limiting.

"What this paper does say is, though there is this notion that wolves will increase like a locust without any sort of natural limit, that idea is not supported by the data," he said.

MacNulty, who has been studying the wolves at Yellowstone for 19 years, said the rivalry among wolf families ramps up despite ample food when they are packed in too closely to one another.

"One of the things everyone needs to realize is that these wolf packs are not random collections of individuals," he said. "They are packs led by parents, with the offspring of the current year and preceeding years, often with aunts and uncles who are related to the breeding male and females. … More wolves meant more fighting and killing. As a result, survival rates declined as wolf density increased.”


Density-dependent intraspecific aggression regulates survival in northern Yellowstone wolves (Canis lupus)

Sarah Cubaynes, Daniel R. MacNulty, Daniel R. Stahler, Kira A. Quimby, Douglas W. Smith andTim Coulson
DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12238

1. Understanding the population dynamics of top predators is essential to assess their impact on ecosystems and to guide their management. Key to this understanding is identifying the mechanisms regulating vital rates.

2. Determining the influence of density on survival is necessary to understand the extent to which human-caused mortality is compensatory or additive. In wolves (Canis lupus), empirical evidence for density-dependent survival is lacking. Dispersal is considered the principal way in which wolves adjust their numbers to prey supply or compensate for human exploitation. However, studies to date have primarily focused on exploited wolf populations, in which density-dependent mechanisms are likely weak due to artificially low wolf densities.

3. Using 13 years of data on 280 collared wolves in Yellowstone National Park, we assessed the effect of wolf density, prey abundance and population structure, as well as winter severity, on age-specific survival in two areas (prey-rich vs. prey-poor) of the national park. We further analysed cause-specific mortality and explored the factors driving intraspecific aggression in the prey-rich northern area of the park.

4. Overall, survival rates decreased during the study. In northern Yellowstone, density-dependence regulated adult survival through an increase in intraspecific aggression, independent of prey availability. In the interior of the park, adult survival was less variable and density-independent, despite reduced prey availability. There was no effect of prey population structure in northern Yellowstone, nor of winter severity in either area. Survival was similar among yearlings and adults, but lower for adults older than 6 years.

5. Our results indicate that density-dependent intraspecific aggression is a major driver of adult wolf survival in northern Yellowstone, suggesting intrinsic density-dependent mechanisms have the potential to regulate wolf populations at high ungulate densities. When low prey availability or high removal rates maintain wolves at lower densities, limited inter-pack interactions may prevent density-dependent survival, consistent with our findings in the interior of the park. 
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Wolves on B.C.'s islands, mainland genetically different
Heiltsuk people had long known coast and timber wolves as distinct

By By Emily Chung, CBC News Posted: Jun 10, 2014 12:01 AM ET Last Updated: Jun 10, 2014 1:22 AM ET

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Wolves on B.C.'s outer islands have a diet that is 90 per cent seafood, including salmon, clams and mussels.

If you are a wolf cub on B.C.'s mainland, your parents will feed you moose, deer and beaver and will teach you to hunt as you get older. If you are a wolf cub on the islands off the B.C. coast, salmon will be on heavy rotation at mealtime, and your parents will teach you to dig clams and catch fish.

Either way, you will likely one day settle down with someone special who was raised the way you were.

That's what a new study by Canadian and Polish researchers shows — that two groups of wolves that live side-by-side along B.C.'s coast live very different lives and don't interbreed much. Statistical tests show they're far more genetically different than expected for such close neighbours.

"They kind of stick to their own," said Chris Darimont, senior author of the paper published today in BMC Ecology.

Up until recently, scientists didn't think wolves that close to one another would be so genetically different, but Darimont said it makes sense given the wolves' huge differences in behaviour.

"Part of the way they're maintained is probably through learning and culture, absolutely," he added. "These are long-lived and intelligent animals."

When he first started studying the wolves 14 years ago, Darimont, a biologist at the University of Victoria and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, believed there was only one kind of wolf that crossed freely between the islands and the mainland, which were separated by a few hundred metres of water that wolves could easily swim — and do easily swim when crossing between islands.

At that time, Chester Starr, an elder from the Heiltsuk First Nation near Bella-Bella, was helping him in his research.

Starr started off by asking Darimont a question that the scientist thought was "so strange" at the time.

And that was, "'What wolves are we going to study? The timber wolves' – he kind of looked over to the mainland – 'or the coastal wolves on these islands?'"

Mountains of feces

Over the course of his research, Darimont came to learn how different the wolves of the outer islands were from those of the mainland, mainly by studying samples of their hair and feces.

"We picked up a lot of feces, mountains of feces — 7,000 [samples] over the decade," he said.

He discovered that wolves on B.C.'s outer islands have a diet that is 90 per cent seafood, including salmon, clams and mussels, and even those in the islands closer to the coast eat as much seafood as meat. Meanwhile, those on the land almost exclusively hunt land animals such as deer, moose and beaver.

Darimont's latest study, led by Astrid Stronen at the Polish Academy of Sciences and Erin Navid at the University of Victoria, show the wolves' genetics mirror that pattern, with little mixing between the outer islands and the mainland, and the wolves on the inner islands somewhere in between.

Although that's interesting, Darimont said that, for him, "the most exciting part of this work is how science and indigenous knowledge, even though they use very different approaches, can often point to the same conclusion."

He added that the people who have lived in the region for millenniums have spent that time observing the wolves and that the new DNA data complements their knowledge.

Darimont thinks the dietary differences among the wolf populations are there because if mainland wolves wanted to eat salmon, they would compete with big, ferocious grizzly bears, which are common on the mainland but rare on coastal islands.

Because the island wolves rely so heavily on seafood such as fish and clams, it means that along with whales and seabirds, they might be vulnerable to a potentially large oil spill, Darimont said.

"We risk losing them and biological diversity within wolves should [a spill] happen."

Environmental groups such as the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, the lead funder of the study, worry about the increased risk of such spills if the Northern Gateway pipeline is approved. The western terminus would be Kitimat B.C., turning the surrounding waters into a major oil shipping channel. A government decision on whether to approve the pipeline is expected this week.

Other funding for the study was provided by the National Geographic Society, the Wilburforce Foundation, the Tula Foundation and the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
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Gray Wolf Spotted in Grand Canyon for First Time in Decades?
The endangered predator hasn't lived in the region since the 1940s.

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Efforts to track the animal spotted on Arizona's Kaibab Plateau in recent weeks have been unsuccessful so far.

Christine Dell'Amore
National Geographic

The chase is on to identify the "wolflike animal" that's been spotted multiple times recently near the Grand Canyon's North Rim.

If the animal turns out to be a gray wolf, as some wildlife experts suspect—and hope—the sightings would mark the first time a gray wolf has been seen in the Grand Canyon area since the 1940s.

People nearly hunted the predator to extinction in the United States, where it had roamed across much of the country for centuries.

Several people have photographed the Grand Canyon canid, which is wearing some kind of collar, on Arizona's Kaibab Plateau in recent weeks, just north of Grand Canyon National Park, according to the U.S. government.

If it's not a gray wolf, it's likely a Mexican gray wolf, which is a rarer subspecies, or a wolf-dog hybrid, says Jeff Humphrey, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Southwest Region.

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Map of North America showing current and former ranges of the gray wolf. Inset of the Grand Canyon National Park and surrounding area, showing the Kaibab Plateau where possible wolf sightings recently occurred.

Any of those animals could wear a collar, but the mystery animal's collar looks similar to those used in the Northern Rocky Mountains, where the gray wolf was reintroduced in 1995, according to a FWS press release. 

Based on photographs, the animal also does not appear to be a Mexican wolf—which is smaller than a gray wolf.

The only way to definitively identify it, Humphrey told National Geographic, is to analyze the DNA in its poop—which the agency is doing now.

Until the analysis is complete, the government is asking the public to treat the creature like a gray wolf from the Northern Rocky Mountains, which is an endangered animal with federal protection.

Based on their recent rebound—there are now 1,700 gray wolves roaming the West after their population had been limited to the upper Midwest for decades—the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed taking the species off the Endangered Species List in 2013.

"Our first area of concern is the welfare of the animal," Humphrey said, especially since the Grand Canyon is heavily visited.

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The gray wolf, seen here in an archive image, has been hunted to near-extinction in the United States.

Super Roamers

Gray wolves are legendary for traveling long distances, and it's feasible that an animal could have traveled from its home in Wyoming or another Rocky Mountain state through Utah and into Arizona, experts say.

At about two or two-and-a-half years of age, young wolves set out seeking new territory, often roaming far from their homes, said National Geographic Young Explorer Jay Simpson.

For several months this year, Simpson tracked a lone gray wolf, dubbed OR-7, through Oregon into California as part of the Wolf OR-7 Expedition.

Wearing a GPS collar, the young male traversed over 1,200 miles (1,931 kilometers) to become the first and only documented free-roaming wolf in California in nearly 90 years, according to the expedition website. 

Based on the attention that the Fish and Wildlife Service is putting on the case, Simpson suspects the Grand Canyon animal is a gray wolf.

"It's really exciting in the sense that wolves continue to display remarkable abilities—they continue to disperse to areas where they previously lived." 

If the Grand Canyon animal is a gray wolf that's wearing a GPS collar, the collar must be out of batteries, since Humphrey said efforts to track it have been unsuccessful. 

Simpson said collaring is crucial for understanding animal behavior—for instance, if the wolf did have a functional collar, it would reveal "invaluable data" about where it has been, including how the animal negotiated various terrain—and threats—through the Northern Rockies. 
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Grand Canyon Gray Wolf May Have Been Shot in Utah

by Megan Gannon, News Editor | December 30, 2014 12:40pm ET

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This wolf, photographed near the Grand Canyon in October, is feared to be dead after a coyote hunter in Utah mistakenly shot a gray wolf in Utah over the weekend.

After a 500-mile (800 kilometers) trek across the West, a lone wolf's journey may have come to an end this weekend.

A coyote hunter in Utah mistakenly shot and killed an endangered gray wolf, which wildlife groups worry was the same wolf photographed near the Grand Canyon this fall. That animal had strayed from its pack in the northern Rockies and was the first of its species to roam Arizona in 70 years.

The slain wolf, which was wearing a radio collar, was shot near the south end of the Tushar Mountains near Beaver, Utah, on Sunday (Dec. 28), the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) said in a statement. 

When the hunter realized the animal wasn't a coyote, he alerted state officials who then contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The federal agency confirmed the animal was a 3-year-old female gray wolf that had been outfitted with its collar near Cody, Wyoming, earlier this year. Wildlife groups are still waiting to hear whether DNA tests will confirm that the wolf was really the lone female they had been tracking since October.

"This was a worry of ours," said Michael Robinson, with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Personally, I'm very saddened by it."

Gray wolves were wiped out from Arizona in the 1940s. That's why Robinson and other conservationists were excited by the news this past October that a gray wolf was repeatedly spotted near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Federal officials failed to capture the wolf to remove its radio collar, but DNA tests of the wolf's feces confirmed that it was a female from the northern Rocky Mountains population.

Although gray wolves have been removed from the endangered species list (and are even legally hunted) in some parts of the country, they still receive federal protections in many states, including Arizona and Utah. It's not clear whether the hunter will face any charges.

"This shows how vulnerable gray wolves are and how important real protection is," Robinson told Live Science. "What we need is a response that follows the Endangered Species Act and prevents these kinds of occurrences from happening again. We think a thorough investigation is imperative."

Robinson added that better education programs could help teach people what gray wolves look like and make people aware that the animals are endangered.
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Wolf pack is biggest in West
Double litter pumped up Lava Mountain group that lives in Gros Ventre hill country.

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Ken Mills, a Wyoming Game and Fish biologist, inspects a wolf from the Lava Mountain Pack in 2014.

By Mike Koshmrl | 0 comments

The largest wolf pack known to exist in the American West roams the Gros Ventre hill country about 30 miles northeast of Jackson.
At last count there were 24 members of the Lava Mountain Pack, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service annual monitoring reports show. While far from unprecedented historically, a wolf pack two dozen strong has nine more members than any other pack surveyed this year in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington or Oregon, state and federal reports indicate.
“That’s a very large pack,” said Mike Jimenez, the service’s Northern Rocky Mountain wolf coordinator. “They actually had a double litter a year ago, and that’s uncommon.”
First documented in 2008, the Lava Mountain Pack ranges deep in the Gros Ventre north of the river’s main stem. It was already the largest pack in Wyoming a year ago when it had 15 wolves. Then its members added the two litters of pups in 2014, Jimenez said.
History suggests that the days of the Lava Mountain Pack’s jumbo size are likely numbered, he said.
Six years ago the largest gang of wolves in Wyoming was the Buffalo Pack, which roamed the Mount Leidy Highlands in numbers as high as 22.
The next year the pack fell to 14 members.
“After that they split up, and the pack was gone,” Jimenez said.
“Big packs don’t stay big for very long,” he said. “What happens is they kick out dispersers, or they fracture.”
Large carnivore biologist Ken Mills of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department also said the Lava Mountain Pack would more likely decline than persist for years at such numbers.
“They don’t tend to be very stable, just because they are so large and they require a lot of resources,” Mills said. “Socially they don’t tend to be stable.”
Before a judge’s September court ruling, Mills was the biologist who managed Wyoming’s wolf program. About a year ago he came face to face with the Lava Mountain Pack when he collared members for a research project on wolf predation in the Upper Gros Ventre. The research was put on hold after tracking collars failed and management jurisdiction shifted to the federal government.
Since the ruling, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has resumed management and hunting has been barred. Because they live within Wyoming’s trophy game area, the Lava Mountain Pack was never subjected to legal hunting last year.
It’s usually in protected areas — where human-caused mortality is low — that very large wolf packs tend to develop, Jimenez said.
Since the reintroduction of wolves to the West two decades ago, the largest pack has proved to be Yellowstone National Park’s now-defunct Druid Pack.
“Just think, in Yellowstone there’s no public hunting, no livestock control,” Jimenez said. “It’s pretty much running in a natural state.”
The Druids, which peaked at 37 wolves in 2001, declined naturally and broke up altogether by 2010.
It was a similar story for other Yellowstone packs with 20-plus wolves, such as the Nez Perce and Swan Lake packs, Jimenez said. They swelled in size after reintroduction and then declined and eventually disappeared, he said.
“The size of the big, big packs, it isn’t inherently better,” Jimenez said. “You get a pack that big, and you can imagine it’s probably formidable and it’s a pretty good defender of its territory.”
But an abundance of prey needs to be present to sustain very large numbers of wolves, he said.
The Upper Gros Ventre, Mills said, is a “rich environment without a lot of livestock.”
Last year, reports show, the Lava Mountain Pack killed two cattle. Generally, Jimenez said, “They’re not a particularly problematic pack.
“They’ve exploited the situation there,” he said, “and they’ve done very well.”
Wolf numbers in the Jackson Hole area as a whole were relatively stable over the past year.
Other Gros Ventre packs tended to stay the same size or shrink.
The Blackrock wolves, with territory to the west of the Lava Mountain Pack, stayed steady at four members. The Pinnacle Peak pack, a frequenter of the National Elk Refuge and Lower Gros Ventre, didn’t budge in number and came in at the second largest in the region with a dozen wolves, Fish and Wildlife’s report shows.
The Lower Slide Lake and Lower Gros Ventre packs both stayed small, numbering four animals or less.
Phantom Springs wolves, residents of Grand Teton National Park and the Buffalo Valley, decreased from 11 to five wolves.
The park’s northern Huckleberry Pack also decreased significantly — from 11 to three wolves.
The Pacific Creek Pack, inhabitants of the Teton Wilderness, were stable over the past year and remained at six members.
Wolves in the southern extent of Jackson Hole and in the Hoback River drainage fared well. The Hoback-area Horse Creek Pack increased from five to eight. A new group of eight wolves, the Dell Creek Pack, sprung up in the area north and east of Bondurant, reports show.
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]

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