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Grey Wolf - Canis lupus
#1
Grey Wolf - Canis lupus

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Scientific classification 
Domain: Eukarya 
Kingdom: Animalia 
Phylum: Chordata 
Subphylum: Vertebrata 
Class: Mammalia 
Subclass: Theria 
Order: Carnivora 
Suborder: Caniformia 
Family: Canidae 
Subfamily: Caninae 
Tribe: Canini 
Genus: Canis 
Species: Canis lupus

The grey wolf or gray wolf (Canis lupus), also known as simply wolf, is the largest wild member of the Canidae family. It is an ice age survivor originating during the Late Pleistocene around 300,000 years ago. DNA sequencing and genetic drift studies reaffirm that the gray wolf shares a common ancestry with the domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris). Although certain aspects of this conclusion have been questioned, including recently, the main body of evidence confirms it. A number of other gray wolf subspecies have been identified, though the actual number of subspecies is still open to discussion. Gray wolves are typically apex predators in the ecosystems they occupy. Though not as adaptable as more generalist canid species, wolves have thrived in temperate forests, deserts, mountains, tundra, taiga, grasslands, and even urban areas.

Distribution
Though once abundant over much of Eurasia and North America, the gray wolf inhabits a very small portion of its former range because of widespread destruction of its territory, human encroachment, and the resulting human-wolf encounters that sparked broad extirpation. Even so, the gray wolf is regarded as being of least concern for extinction according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, when the entire gray wolf population is considered as a whole. Today, wolves are protected in some areas, hunted for sport in others, or may be subject to extermination as perceived threats to livestock and pets.

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Physical characteristics
Gray wolf weight and size can vary greatly worldwide, tending to increase proportionally with latitude as predicted by Bergmann's Rule. In general, height varies from 0.6 to .95 meters and (26–38 inches) at the shoulder. Wolf weight varies geographically; on average, European wolves may weigh 38.5 kg (85 lbs), North American wolves 36 kg (80 lbs), and Indian and Arabian wolves 25 kg (55 lbs). Though rarely encountered, extreme specimens of more than 77 kg (170 lb.) have been recorded in Alaska, Canada, and the former Soviet Union. The heaviest recorded gray wolf in the New World was killed on 70 Mile River in east-central Alaska on July 12, 1939 and weighed 79 kg (175 lb.), while the heaviest recorded wolf in the Old World was killed after World War II in the Kobelyakski Area of the Poltavskij Region in the Ukrainian SSR, and weighed 86 kg (189 lb.). Grey wolves are sexually dimorphic, with females in any given wolf population typically weighing 20% less than males. Females also have narrower muzzles and foreheads; slightly shorter, smoother furred legs; and less massive shoulders. Gray wolves can measure anywhere from 1.3 to 2 meters (4.5–6.5 feet) from nose to the tip of the tail, which itself accounts for approximately one quarter of overall body length.

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Gray wolves rely on their stamina rather than speed for hunting. Their narrow chests and powerful backs and legs facilitate efficient locomotion. They are capable of covering several miles trotting at about a pace of 10 km/h (6 mph), and have been known to reach speeds approaching 65 km/h (40 mph) during a chase. One female gray wolf was recorded to have made 7 metre bounds when chasing prey.

Gray wolf paws are able to tread easily on a wide variety of terrains, especially snow. There is a slight webbing between each toe, which allows them to move over snow more easily than comparatively hampered prey. Gray wolves are digitigrade, which, with the relative largeness of their feet, helps them to distribute their weight well on snowy surfaces. The front paws are larger than the hind paws, and have a fifth digit, the dewclaw, that is absent on hind paws. Bristled hairs and blunt claws enhance grip on slippery surfaces, and special blood vessels keep paw pads from freezing. Scent glands located between a wolf's toes leave trace chemical markers behind, helping the wolf to effectively navigate over large expanses while concurrently keeping others informed of its whereabouts. Unlike dogs and western coyotes, gray wolves have a lower density of sweat glands on their paws. This trait is also present in Eastern Canadian Coyotes which have been shown to have recent wolf ancestry. Wolves in Israel are unique due to the middle two toes of their paws being fused, a trait originally thought to be unique to the African Wild Dog.

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Genetic research has shown that black furred wolves owe their colouration to a mutation that first arose in domestic dogs 
Gray wolves molt some of their coats in late spring or early summerWolves have bulky coats consisting of two layers. The first layer is made up of tough guard hairs that repel water and dirt. The second is a dense, water-resistant undercoat that insulates. The undercoat is shed in the form of large tufts of fur in late spring or early summer (with yearly variations). A wolf will often rub against objects such as rocks and branches to encourage the loose fur to fall out. The undercoat is usually gray regardless of the outer coat's appearance. Wolves have distinct winter and summer pelages that alternate in spring and autumn. Females tend to keep their winter coats further into the spring than males.

Fur coloration varies greatly, running from gray to gray-brown, all the way through the canine spectrum of white, red, brown, and black. These colors tend to mix in many populations to form predominantly blended individuals, though it is not uncommon for an individual or an entire population to be entirely one color (usually all black or all white). With the exception of Italy, in which black wolves can constitute 20-25% of the entire population, melanistic wolves rarely occur outside the North American continent. According to genetic examinations, the black coat colour is based on a mutation that first arose among domestic dogs and later migrated into the wolf-population via interbreeding. A multicolor coat characteristically lacks any clear pattern other than it tends to be lighter on the animal's underside. Fur color sometimes corresponds with a given wolf population's environment; for example, all-white wolves are much more common in areas with perennial snow cover. Aging wolves acquire a grayish tint in their coats. It is often thought that the coloration of the wolf's pelage serves as a functional form of camouflage. This may not be entirely correct, as some scientists have concluded that the blended colors have more to do with emphasizing certain gestures during interaction.

At birth, wolf pups tend to have darker fur and blue irises that will change to a yellow-gold or orange color when the pups are between 8 and 16 weeks old.


Adolescent wolf with golden-yellow eyes.Wolves' long, powerful muzzles help distinguish them from other canids, particularly coyotes and Golden Jackals, which have more narrow, pointed muzzles. In wolves, the anterior incisure of the nasal bones does not have a medial protrusion, unlike jackals. The cingulum on the external edge of the first upper molar is only slightly expressed, while it is broad and distinctly marked in jackals.

Wolves differ from domestic dogs in a more varied nature. Anatomically, wolves have smaller orbital angles than dogs (>53 degrees for dogs compared with <45 degrees for wolves) and a comparatively larger brain capacity. Larger paw size, yellow eyes, longer legs, and bigger teeth further distinguish adult wolves from other canids, especially dogs. Also, precaudal glands at the base of the tail are present in wolves but not in dogs.

Wolves and most larger dogs share identical dentition. The maxilla has six incisors, two canines, eight premolars, and four molars. The mandible has six incisors, two canines, eight premolars, and six molars. The fourth upper premolars and first lower molars constitute the carnassial teeth, which are essential tools for shearing flesh. The long canine teeth are also important, in that they hold and subdue the prey. Capable of delivering up to 10,000 kPa (1450 lbf/in²) of pressure, a wolf's teeth are its main weapons as well as its primary tools.[6] This is roughly twice the pressure that a domestic dog of similar size can deliver. The dentition of grey wolves is better suited to bone crushing than those of other modern canids, though it is not as specialised as that found in hyenas.

Wolf saliva has been shown to reduce bacterial infection in wounds and accelerate tissue regeneration.

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Reproduction and life cycle
Wolf nursing her pupsGenerally, mating occurs between January and April — the higher the latitude, the later it occurs. A pack usually produces a single litter unless the breeding male mates with one or more subordinate females. During the mating season, breeding wolves become very affectionate with one another in anticipation of the female's ovulation cycle. The pack tension rises as each mature wolf feels urged to mate. During this time, the breeding pair may be forced to prevent other wolves from mating with one another. Incest rarely occurs, though inbreeding depression has been reported to be a problem for wolves in Saskatchewan and Isle Royale. When the breeding female goes into estrus (which occurs once per year and lasts 5–14 days), she and her mate will spend an extended time in seclusion. Pheromones in the female's urine and the swelling of her vulva make known to the male that the female is in heat. The female is unreceptive for the first few days of estrus, during which time she sheds the lining of her uterus; but when she begins ovulating again, the two wolves mate.

The gestation period lasts between 60 and 63 days. The pups, which weigh 0.5 kg (1 lb) at birth, are born blind, deaf, and completely dependent on their mother. The average litter size is 5-6 pups, though there are two Soviet records of litters consisting of 17 pups. The pups reside in the den and stay there for two months. The den is usually on high ground near an open water source, and has an open chamber at the end of an underground or hillside tunnel that can be up to a few meters long. During this time, the pups will become more independent, and will eventually begin to explore the area immediately outside the den before gradually roaming up to a mile away from it at around 5 weeks of age. Wolf growth rate is slower than that of coyotes and dholes. They begin eating regurgitated foods after 2 weeks of feeding on milk, which in wolves has less fat and more protein and arginine than dog milk. By this time, their milk teeth have emerged — and are fully weaned by 10 weeks. During the first weeks of development, the mother usually stays with her litter alone, but eventually most members of the pack will contribute to the rearing of the pups in some way. After two months, the restless pups will be moved to a rendezvous site, where they can stay safely while most of the adults go out to hunt. One or two adults stay behind to ensure the safety of the pups. After a few more weeks, the pups are permitted to join the adults if they are able, and will receive priority on anything killed, their low ranks notwithstanding. Letting the pups fight for eating privileges results in a secondary ranking being formed among them, and allows them to practice the dominance/submission rituals that will be essential to their future survival in pack life. During hunts, the pups remain ardent observers until they reach about 8 months of age, by which time they are large enough to participate actively.

Wolves typically reach sexual maturity after two or three years, at which point many of them will be compelled to leave their birth packs and seek out mates and territories of their own. Wolves that reach maturity generally live 6 to 10 years in the wild, although in captivity they can live to twice that age. High mortality rates give them a low overall life expectancy. Pups die when food is scarce; they can also fall prey to predators such as bears, tigers, or other wolves. The most significant causes of mortality for grown wolves are hunting and poaching, car accidents, and wounds inflicted while hunting prey. Although adult wolves may occasionally be killed by other predators, rival wolf packs are often their most dangerous non-human enemy.

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Social structure
Occasionally, single wolves are found in the wild, though packs are more common. Lone wolves are typically old specimens driven from their pack or young adults in search of new territory. Wolf packs in the northern hemisphere tend not to be as compact or unified as those of African Wild Dogs and Spotted Hyenas, though they are not as unstable as those of coyotes. Normally, the pack consists of a male, a female, and their offspring, essentially making the pack a nuclear family. The size of the pack may change over time and is controlled by several factors, including habitat, personalities of individual wolves within a pack, and food supply. Packs can contain between 2 and 20 wolves, though 8 is a more typical size. An unusually large pack consisting of 36 wolves was reported in 1967 in Alaska. While most breeding pairs are monogamous, there are exceptions. Wolves will usually remain with their parents until the age of two years. Young from the previous season will support their parents in nursing pups of a later year. Wolf cubs are very submissive to their parents, and remain so after reaching sexual maturity. On occasion in captivity, subordinate wolves may rise up and challenge the dominant pair; such revolts may result in daughters killing mothers and sons killing fathers. This behavior has never been documented in the wild, and it is hypothesized that it only happens in captivity because dispersal is impossible. There are no documented cases of subordinate wolves challenging the leadership of their parents. Instead of openly challenging the leadership of the pack leaders, most young wolves between the ages of 1–4 years leave their family in order to search for, or start, a pack of their own. Wolves acting unusually, such as epileptic pups or thrashing adults crippled by a trap or a gunshot, are usually killed by other members of their own pack. Asiatic and Middle Eastern wolves tend to be less inclined to socialising with any other member of their species outside their own nuclear family, passing their lives more frequently either in pairs or as social individuals, much like coyotes and dingoes.

In literature, wolf packs are commonly portrayed as strongly hierarchic communities, with a dominant breeding "Alpha pair", a group of subordinate "Beta" individuals, and the scapegoat "Omega wolf" on the lowest end of the hierarchy. These descriptions are heavily based on research on captive wolf packs composed of unrelated individuals and cannot be extrapolated to wild wolf packs. In captivity, dispersal of mature individuals is impossible, resulting in frequent aggressive hierarchic encounters. According to wolf biologist L. David Mech, "Calling a wolf an alpha is usually no more appropriate than referring to a human parent or a doe deer as an alpha. Any parent is dominant to its young offspring, so alpha adds no information." and that basing observations on captive living arrangements would be like “…trying to draw inferences about human family dynamics by studying humans in refugee camps”. The term may be valid under certain circumstances, such as when a pack adopts an unrelated dispersed wolf, when the breeding pair die, thus leaving the alpha position open, or when siblings disperse from a pack together. In these cases, the standard nuclear family model does not apply, which may cause wild wolves to behave more like they do in captivity.

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Territorial behaviors
Wolves are territorial animals. Studies have shown that the average size of a wolf pack's territory is close to 200 km2 (77 sq mi). Wolf packs travel constantly in search of prey, covering roughly 9% of their territory per day (average 25 km/d). The core of their territory is on average 35 km2 (14 sq mi), in which they spend 50% of their time. Prey density tends to be much higher in the territory's surrounding areas. Despite this higher abundance of prey, wolves tend to avoid hunting in the fringes of their territory unless desperate, due to the possibility of fatal encounters with neighboring packs. Established wolf packs rarely accept strangers into their territories, with one study on wolf mortality in Minnesota and the Denali National Park and Preserve concluding that 14–65% of wolf deaths were due to predation by other wolves. In fact, 91% of wolf fatalities occur within 3.2 km (2.0 mi) of the borders between neighboring territories. The majority of killed wolves are dominant animals, due to their greater assertiveness in confronting other packs. In rare cases in which a stranger is accepted into the pack, the animal itself is almost invariably a young specimen of 1–3 years of age, while the majority of killed wolves are adults.

Communication between these boundaries is achieved in part through scent marking and howling. Howling is the principal means of spacing in wolf populations. It communicates the location of a core territory as well as enforcing a territory-independent buffer zone around the roaming wolf pack. This territory-independent buffer zone is a means of avoiding encounters with neighboring packs near territory borders. Lone wolves, in contrast, rarely respond to howls, instead taking an "under the radar" approach. Howling communicates a core territory over time, as a wolf packs spends much of their time there.

Dispersion
Offspring of the breeding pair tend to stay with the pack for some portion of their adulthood. These "subordinate" wolves play a number of important roles in the pack, including participating in hunts, enforcing discipline and raising pups. This behavior is achieved, in part, by an active suppression of reproduction in subordinate wolves by the breeding pair. Thus, while they remain members of the pack, they are unable to reproduce, even if there are other subordinate unrelated wolves in the pack. In many wolves, the drive to reproduce leads them to leave the pack. Dispersals occur at all times during the year, and typically involve wolves that have reached sexual maturity prior to the previous breeding season. Dispersed wolves search for new territory and companionship, a hazardous process that could lead to death. Successful dispersions end when the wolf has found another single wolf of the opposite sex and bonds with it. Thus it takes two such dispersals from two separate packs for a new breeding pair to be formed, for dispersing wolves from the same maternal pack tend not to mate. Once two dispersing wolves meet and begin traveling together, they immediately begin the process of seeking out territory, preferably in time for the next mating season.

Scent marking
Wolves scent-roll to bring scents back to the pack. Wolves, like other canines, use scent marking to lay claim to anything—from territory to fresh kills. Breeding wolves scent mark the most often, with males doing so more than females. The most widely used scent marker is urine. Male and female breeding wolves urine-mark objects with a raised-leg stance (all other pack members squat) to enforce rank and territory. They also use marks to identify food caches and to claim kills on behalf of the pack. Defecation markers are used for the same purpose as urine marks, and serve as a more visual warning, as well. Defecation markers are particularly useful for navigation, keeping the pack from traversing the same terrain too often and also allowing each wolf to be aware of the whereabouts of its pack members. Above all, though, scent marking is used to inform other wolves and packs that a certain territory is occupied, and that they should therefore tread cautiously.

Wolves have scent glands all over their bodies, including at the base of the tail, between toes, and in the eyes, genitalia, and skin. Pheromones secreted by these glands identify each individual wolf. A dominant wolf will "rub" its body against subordinate wolves to mark such wolves as being members of a particular pack. Wolves may also "paw" dirt to release pheromones instead of urine marking.

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Dietary habits
Wolves feed primarily on medium to large sized ungulates, though they are opportunistic feeders, and will generally eat any meat that is available, including non-ungulate species, carrion and garbage. Cannibalism is not uncommon in wolves, and has been recorded to occur in times of food scarcity, when a pack member dies, and during territorial disputes. Some wolf packs in Alaska and Western Canada have been observed to feed on salmon. Humans are rarely, but occasionally preyed upon. Wolves will typically avoid a potential prey item which does not conform to what they experienced during their lives. Generally, the greater the discrepancy to what wolves are accustomed to, the greater their resistance to exploring it. This is only increased should the new prey act bold, assertive, and fearless. Nevertheless, even if there is no food shortage, wolves will explore alternative prey if they continually come into close contact with it and habituate themselves.
Unlike lion prides, wolf packs numbering above 2 individuals show little strategic cooperation in hunting large prey. Wolves typically attempt to conceal themselves as they approach their prey. Often, they will wait for the prey to graze, when it is distracted. If the prey animal stands its ground or confronts the pack, the wolves will approach and threaten it. The wolves will eventually leave if their prey does not run, though the length of time can range from hours to days. If their prey attempts to flee, the wolves will give chase. Wolves generally do not engage in long chases, and will usually stop a pursuit after a chase of 10-180 metres, though there has been one documented case of a wolf chasing a moose for 36 km. Female wolves tend to be better at chasing prey than males, while the latter are more adept at wrestling large prey to the ground once it is caught. Packs composed largely of female wolves thrive on fleet footed prey such as elk, while packs specialising in bison tend to have a greater number of males. Though commonly portrayed as targeting solely sick or infirm animals, there is little evidence that they actively limit themselves to such targets. Rather, the evidence shows that wolves will simply target the easiest options available, which as well as sick and infirm animals, can also include young animals and pregnant females. Though wolves commonly hunt large prey in packs, there are cases in which single wolves have successfully killed large animals unaided. One wolf was recorded to have killed moose 11 times singlehandedly.

Wolves will typically attempt to disable large prey by tearing at the haunches and perineum, causing massive bleeding and loss of coordination. A single bite can cause a wound up to 10–15 cm in length. A large deer in optimum health generally succumbs to three bites at the perineum area after a chase of 150 metres. Once their prey is sufficiently weakened, the wolves will grab it by the flanks and pull it down.Sometimes, with medium sized prey such as dall sheep, wolves will bite the throat, severing the windpipe or jugular. When attacking canid prey, such as dogs, coyotes or other wolves, wolves will kill by biting the back, neck or head. With prey of equal or lesser weight to the wolf, such as lambs or small children, wolves will grab their quarry by the neck, chest, head or thigh and carry them off to a secluded spot. Once the prey collapses, the wolves will tear open the abdominal cavity and commence feeding on the animal, sometimes before it has died. On some occasions, wolves will not press an attack, and will wait for their prey to die from their wounds before feeding begins. Wolves will occasionally attack pregnant ungulates to feed on the fetus(es), leaving the mother uneaten. Usually, it is the dominant pair that works the hardest in killing the pack's target. Wolves have on occasion been observed to engage in acts of surplus killing. This phenomenon is common when wolves target livestock. In the wild, this usually occurs in late winter or spring when deep snow impedes their prey's escape.

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Pack status is reinforced during feeding. The breeding pair usually eats first, starting with the heart, liver, and lungs. Wolves of intermediate rank will prevent lower ranking pack members from feeding until the dominant pair finishes eating. The stomach of prey is eaten, though the contents are left untouched if the killed animal is a herbivore. The leg muscles are eaten next, with the hide and bones being the last to be consumed. If they are disturbed while feeding, they will instead focus their attention on their prey's fat deposits rather than internal organs. A single wolf can eat up to 3.2–3.5 kg of food at a time, though they can eat as much as 13–15 kg when sufficiently hungry. A wolf's yearly requirement is 1.5 tons of meat. Wolves can go without sustenance for long periods, with a Russian record showing how one specimen survived for 17 days without food. Research has shown that 2 weeks without food will not weaken a wolf's muscle activity. After eating, wolves will drink large quantities of water to prevent uremic poisoning. A wolf's stomach can hold up to 7.5 litres of water. Wolves supplement their diet with vegetation. Scat analysis found 75% of samples found Yellowstone National Park wolves’ summer diet contained plants mostly grass (Graminae). In some areas of the former Soviet Union wolves have been reported to cause serious damage to watermelon plantations.
Studies on how wolves affect prey populations tend to vary considerably, with some results indicating that wolves dramatically reduce, sometimes locally extirpate some prey species, while others indicate that wolf predation simply takes over from other mortality factors present in wolf-free zones. Wolves are not essential for the presence of many other species.

Interspecific predatory relationships
Wolves typically dominate other canid species in areas where they are sympatric. In North America, wolves are generally intolerant of coyotes in their territory; two years after their reintroduction to the Yellowstone National Park, the wolves were responsible for a near 50% drop in coyote populations through both competition and predation. Wolves have been reported to dig coyote pups from their dens and kill them. Wolves typically do not consume the coyotes they kill. There are no records of coyotes killing wolves, though they have been known to gang up on wolves if they outnumber them. Wolves have been observed to allow coyotes to approach their kills, only to chase them down and kill them. Coyote specialist Robert Crabtree of the Yellowstone Ecological Research Center suggested that this behaviour could be linked to the intraspecific territoriality of wolves, even though coyote represent no danger: "Maybe you want to teach your pups tricks of the trade... Maybe wolves are killing coyotes to practice for conflicts with other wolves later in life."[89] Near identical interactions have been observed in Greece between wolves and Golden Jackals. Wolves may kill foxes on kill sites, though not as frequently as they do with coyotes. Raccoon Dogs are also reportedly preyed upon.

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Brown Bears are encountered in both Eurasia and North America. The majority of interactions between wolves and Brown Bears usually amount to nothing more than mutual avoidance. Serious confrontations depend on the circumstances of the interaction, though the most common factor is defence of food and young. Brown Bears will use their superior size to intimidate wolves from their kills and when sufficiently hungry, will raid wolf dens. Brown Bears usually dominate wolves on kills, though they rarely prevail against wolves defending den sites. Wolves in turn have been observed killing bear cubs, to the extent of even driving off the defending mother bears. Deaths in wolf/bear skirmishes are considered very rare occurrences, the individual power of the brown bear and the collective strength of the wolf pack usually being sufficient deterrents to both sides. Encounters with American Black Bears occur solely in the Americas; their interactions with wolves are much rarer than those of Brown Bears, due to differences in habitat preferences. The majority of Black Bear encounters with wolves occur in the species' northern range, with no interactions being recorded in Mexico. Wolves have been recorded to kill Black Bears on numerous occasions without eating them. Unlike Brown Bears, Black Bears frequently lose against wolves in disputes over kills. While encounters with brown and black bears appear to be common, polar bears are rarely encountered by wolves, though there are two records of wolf packs killing polar bear cubs.

Large wolf populations limit the numbers of small to medium sized felines. Wolf predation is recorded to reduce lynx populations wherever the two species are sympatric. Lynx populations in Slovakia plummeted during World War II, when large numbers of wolves entered the cat's range. Similarly, in Russia, lynx populations drop in areas with high wolf densities. In the Rocky Mountains and adjacent mountain areas of North America, wolves are usually hostile toward cougars and will kill cubs if given the opportunity. A pack will on occasion appropriate the kills of adult cougars, which respond by increasing their kill rate. Both species have been recorded to kill each other. National Park Service cougar specialist Kerry Murphy stated that the cougar usually is at an advantage on a one to one basis, considering it can effectively use its claws, as well as its teeth, unlike the wolf which relies solely on its teeth. Yellowstone officials have reported that attacks between cougars and wolves are not uncommon. Multiple incidents of cougars taking wolves and vice versa have been recorded in Yellowstone National Park. Researchers in Montana have found that wolves regularly kill cougars in the area. Similarly, large numbers of wolves have been reported to reduce leopard populations in Tibet. However, the reverse is true for larger cats such as tigers. In areas where wolves and tigers share ranges, such as the Russian Far East, the two species typically display a great deal of dietary overlap, resulting in intense competition. Wolf and tiger interactions are well documented in Sikhote-Alin, which until the beginning of the 20th century, held very few wolves. It is thought by certain experts that wolf numbers increased in the region after tigers were largely eliminated during the Russian colonization in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This is corroborated by native inhabitants of the region claiming that they had no memory of wolves inhabiting Sikohte-Alin until the 1930s, when tiger numbers decreased. Tigers depress wolf numbers, either to the point of localized extinction or to such low numbers as to make them a functionally insignificant component of the ecosystem. Wolves appear capable of escaping competitive exclusion from tigers only when human persecution decreases the latter's numbers. Today wolves are considered scarce in tiger inhabited areas, being found in scattered pockets, and usually seen traveling as loners or in small groups. First hand accounts on interactions between the two species indicate that tigers occasionally chase wolves from their kills, while wolves will scavenge from tiger kills. Tigers are not known to prey on wolves, though there are four records of tigers killing wolves without consuming them. This competitive exclusion of wolves by tigers has been used by Russian conservationists to convince hunters in the Far East to tolerate the big cats, as they limit ungulate populations less than wolves, and are effective in controlling the latter's numbers.

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Wolves may occasionally encounter Striped Hyenas in the Middle East and Central and South Asia, mostly in disputes over carcasses. Though hyenas usually dominate wolves on a one to one basis, wolf packs have been reported to displace lone hyenas from carcasses. Wolf remains have been found in Cave Hyena den sites, though it is unknown if the wolves were killed or scavenged upon. Unlike cave hyenas, which preferentially preyed on lowland animals such as horses, wolves relied more on slope-dwelling ibex and Roe Deer, thus minimising competition. Wolves and Cave Hyenas seem to display negative abundance relations over time, with wolf populations expanding their ranges as hyenas disappeared.
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#2
Canidae Wrote:Wolf packs attack the toughest prey in Yellowstone

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- Wolves from the Mollie's pack trail bison in Yellowstone National Park in March 2007. The pack lives in the Pelican Valley in the east-central portion of the park. Elk migrate out of the region in winter, leaving bison as the pack's only large prey. Consequently, the wolves have had to adapt to killing bison.

BILLINGS, Mont. - It's not easy being a bison-eating wolf in Yellowstone National Park.

"Why get your head bashed in if you can take an elk," said Doug Smith, leader of the Yellowstone Wolf Project. "They have to have the deck stacked in their favor."

Yet in the winter, one pack in particular, Mollie's pack, has few other options. Elk migrate out of the wolves' range - the Pelican Valley in the east-central portion of the park - leaving only bison as large prey. That means the pack either has to migrate or adapt to kill bison. Mollie's adapted.

"Mollie's eats nothing but bison in the winter," Smith said. "How they kill them is fascinating to watch. They chase them into deep snow. They harass and harass and harass them until they chase them off of windblown ridges into a gully and all jump on them."

In general, such kills take a long time because the wolves have to "juke and jive" to avoid being kicked or gored by the bison. One bison kill documented by the team took more than nine hours.

"They attack the back, not the front," Smith said. "It's a dirty job."

For that reason, they prefer prey that runs away. Animals like bison that typically stand their ground may be more intimidating to the wolves, and they quickly lose interest.

"They hate things that stand their ground," Smith said. "This may sound bad, but they're cowards. We think 95 percent of the things they kill are fleeing. Things not fleeing that they kill are weak, have a broken leg or are starving."

He recounted seeing one bison churning through deep snow as wolves jumped up and grabbed on to its neck. Once the bison hit a bare patch of ground, it shook its massive head and the wolves went flying. Another researcher saw a bison kick and kill a wolf. And the Mollie's pack alpha female was spotted hobbling around on a broken leg, possibly from a run-in with a bison.

"One of the biggest topics of wolf research is what they kill and why," Smith said. "They're not going to kill a bison unless it has a problem. They tend to be pretty selective with elk, too, but occasionally they will kill a healthy elk. Not so with bison."

Bison packs

Two other packs have also adapted to opportunistic killing of bison - the Cougar Creek and Gibbon Meadows packs on the west-central side of the park. They don't take as many bison as Mollie's pack. Common to all of the packs is that 95 percent of bison taken by wolves are killed in the winter. The more severe the winter, the more bison wolves will kill. Come summer, the wolves switch back to preying on elk, which are more abundant and easier to kill.

Overall, bison are a small part of the Yellowstone wolves' diet, and wolf kills make no dent in the bison population. Out of 323 wolf kills documented by the park's staff in 2007, only 11 (3.4 percent) were bison. Of those kills, six were calves, three were bulls and two were adults of unknown sex.

There's only one area left in North America where wolves make a living eating mostly bison - the Wood Buffalo National Park and nearby Slave River Lowlands in Canada. Bison there make up 80 to 90 percent of the wolves' diet. In other areas where bison are present, such as the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary in Canada, wolves would rather kill moose than bison, even though bison are more abundant.

"Bison may be the most difficult to kill of all prey items," Smith said, more so than a moose or even a musk ox.

Yet years ago, when bison freely roamed North America by the thousands, wolves likely ate a lot of bison.

"North America pre-European settlement was a bison-wolf economy," Smith said. "The percentage of wolves that lived off of bison I'll bet was 60 to 70 percent. Now, it's less than 1 percent. Now, the only wolves that eat bison in North America are here and in Wood Park. Wolves in the McKenzie game sanctuary eat bison occasionally, but they prefer moose. When they can pick, they pick moose.

"Those are the three main areas, which is kind of sad."

Given that the plains wolves were exterminated, wolves in Yellowstone did not learn their skill culturally; they had to relearn the process in the park, Smith said, proving how adaptable the animals are to killing new prey.

Wolves in history

Wolves that used to follow bison herds to feed were probably much bigger than the wolves of today, Smith said, noting that "you had to be big to kill bison."

Such a scenario goes against a classic zoology standard called Bergmann's rule, which says that an animal's body mass increases with colder climate conditions and the higher the latitude at which it lives. Smith said wolves of the central Plains were probably the biggest wolves because of bison. Those wolves may have weighed as much as 170 pounds.

Not surprisingly, some of the biggest wolves in Yellowstone are in Mollie's pack. Out of the 350 wolves that have been weighed in Yellowstone National Park since their reintroduction in 1995-96, only 10 weighed more than 130 pounds, Smith said. Half of those big wolves were found in Mollie's pack. One Mollie's pack wolf is the biggest weighed so far, tipping the scales at 142 pounds. But the wolf had about 10 to 15 pounds of meat in its stomach when trapped, Smith added.

"The Mollie's are among the biggest wolves we handle in the park," he said. "They're just a bigger, more robust animal."

It only makes sense, Smith said. As former park scientist John Varley once told him, "Only the big wolves survive. If you're not big and strong, you're not going to live."

Especially if you're a wolf that hunts bison, Varley could have added.

Average pack

Mollie's pack is about average in number compared with the park's 10 packs, totaling nine adults and five pups when counts were taken last winter. But Smith said it's a pack stacked deeply with four big, adult males. The alpha male, number 586, is 6 to 8 years old.

"Their pack retains more big males more so than other packs," he said. "We're seeing that adult male wolves are key in killing bull elk and bison."

In killing bison, the more big males the better, Smith said, whereas in packs that kill elk, "You do best killing elk if you have one big male. It does not matter if you have two or three."

Male wolves bulk up at age 3 but don't achieve their maximum body size until they're between the ages of 4 and 5, Smith said. Adult males probably have little time to enjoy their beefy stature, however, since the average age of death for Yellowstone wolves is 5.

The payoff

Because there's a lot of work that goes into killing a bison, it's important that the payoff is worthwhile. In the case of a full-grown bull that can weigh up to a ton, the benefit can be some serious snacking. Even a smaller bison offers a lot of meat, meaning that other predators quickly take notice. Wolf kills of bison are often overtaken by grizzly bears.

"Every kill that we document from March to October is taken over by grizzly bears," Smith said.

Wolves may tolerate a bear's usurping their kill, or they may try to annoy it so much that it leaves.

"They peck and poke and the bear gets annoyed and leaves," Smith said. "But 80 percent of the time the bears win."

Adult female grizzly bears with cubs of the year are at a disadvantage in taking over kills, since they have to protect the cub, which wolves will kill if given the chance. November through February, though, the bears are hibernating, so wolves get the meat largely to themselves.

That's probably important for wolves. Recent studies are showing that the summer months can be arduous for Yellowstone's wolf packs.

"Essentially what's emerging is that summer is a hard time for a wolf," Smith said, as their prey disperses throughout the 2.2-million-acre park. "I think if we trapped them in the summer we'd see pretty lean wolves."

Kerry Gunther, bear management biologist for the park, said the introduction of wolves has helped bears by providing carcasses throughout the year, instead of just in the spring when animals drop from winterkill. When crops such as whitebark pine nuts are thin, the bears turn to wolves to provide carcasses as a supplement.

"Overall, I'd say it's a positive for the bears," Gunther said.

Although bull bison would make a hearty meal, they are rarely killed by wolves. More typically, wolves kill bison cows and calves. Bison bulls are more likely to die when they gore each other during the summer rut, or from natural causes such as disease, starvation or injury.

Only time will tell if Yellowstone's wolves - especially Mollie's pack - continue to adapt until they're more efficient bison killers, or if they foster a bigger genetic subculture of wolves better-suited to killing bison. One thing is already clear, though: The park's wolves quickly dispelled researcher's predictions that it would take several years for wolves to learn to kill bison, their most formidable prey. The first documented wolf kill of a bison occurred 25 months after wolves were released.


http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/...1b73e.html

Frozen Planet hunt sequences : http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/15385364
Cameramen battled howling winds and sub-zero temperatures to film the dramatic chase as wolves closed in on their American bison prey.

Fortune finally favoured the wolves when a panicked bull knocked over a calf, leaving it defenceless against the hungry predators.
The sequence features in the landmark BBC One series Frozen Planet.

Director Chadden Hunter and his team scoured Wood Buffalo National Park, an area the size of Denmark, to find the predators and prey in action.

Taking on a herd of bison, with males weighing in at up to a tonne, is a high-risk strategy for the wolves.

But with temperatures reaching -50 degrees and with winds of up to 100mph, conditions drive extreme behaviour.
...
Native Canadian Jeff Turner was stationed on the ground where he was able to film the climax of a second hunt.

Turner describes watching a lone wolf battle with a bison for over an hour as "powerful".

"The struggles that we'd had with the cold... felt insignificant compared with these animals that were struggling for their very lives," he said.


I can't find the youtube video of the Lone wolf bitch vs. yearling Bison, anyone know where a copy that's viewable everywhere is?

Ursus arctos Wrote:
taipan Wrote:
darkhyena Wrote:And even though coyotes, at about 30 pounds, are a third the size of the average wolf, they are not pushovers. Only when a pack of wolves outnumbers coyotes do they attack; when there are more coyotes, they will attack wolves. Crabtree is not aware of any coyotes killing adult wolves, but thinks they might have killed some pups. 

Biologists watched one scene unfold in which four coyotes attacked a wolf pup. A female wolf chased the coyotes off, but eventually they turned on her and pinned her down. She escaped, and swam across the Lamar River, where she was attacked on the other side by another pack of coyotes. Amazingly, she survived
.

http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Publications/Z...olfweb.cfm

Personally, I have a new respect for coyotes now.

Yes wolves have actively sought to eradicate them in the areas they are now being reintroduced, and cougars prey on coyotes.

As for this - "Only when a pack of wolves outnumbers coyotes do they attack; " from the article, I'd argue it is incorrect.

"The other 2 bison observed being killed by wolves were both calves in late winter. One kill involved 5 yearling wolves that attacked a malnourished lone bison calf on 8 April 1997 (Table 2). That group, referred to as the Sawtooth wolves, was not a pack but a temporary affiliation of young wolves released together. Another kill involved a lone wolf, with 4 coyotes (Canis latrans) simultaneously attacking a malnourished lone bison calf on 24 March 1999. The wolf attacked the neck of the bison and the coyotes attacked a hind leg. Bites to the neck eventually killed the calf. The wolf then chased the coyotes away, but they remained 50 m away while the wolf fed on the calf. "
http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/mamma...esults.htm

One would expect 4 coyotes to dominate a lone wolf, but in this instance they did not.

darkhyena Wrote:Weaving a new web; Wolves change an ecosystem
by Jim Robbins

In a field of snow brilliant in the winter sun, biologist Robert Crabtree bends over a dead, frozen coyote. Running a gloved hand through the thick gray and brown fur, he inspects it for signs of trauma. "We're looking for evidence that would fit the modus operandi of a wolf kill," says Crabtree, sounding more like a coroner than a biologist. "Has it been around wolves around the estimated time of death? Are there severe bites to the chest, broken ribs, internal bleeding, and possible torn ligaments and muscles around shoulders and hips. Because wolves pull a coyote apart. Mountain lions, on the other hand, are skull crunchers." 

Crabtree, who runs a private, nonprofit research institute called Yellowstone Ecosystem Studies, is inspecting a lot of wolf-killed coyotes in Yellowstone these days. Ever since Canadian wolves were brought to the national park to re-establish a population in 1995 and 1996, the coyote population has been going through a dramatic restructuring. Since 1989, the Bozeman, Montana-based Crabtree and his wife Jennifer Sheldon, an expert on canids, have followed 179 radio-collared coyotes in the park. Until the wolves came back it was one of the densest and most stable coyote populations in the country because of the lack of human impacts. 

But not anymore. In two years, 50 percent of the pre-wolf population of coyotes has been killed. And the re-appearance of the wolf has shaken the coyote social structure to its foundation. "They're being forced to shift their territories, and to give up their territories. If they don't, they get killed," declares Crabtree. 

Thirteen coyote packs with a total of 80 individuals lived in the remote Lamar Valley, one of Crabtree's study areas, before the wolf returned. Now there are nine packs with only 36 individuals, an abrupt change for a population that has been stable for more than half a century. Crabtree believes wolves could eventually kill two-thirds of the coyote population. 

It's not all bad news for coyotes. Those that survive, usually on the edge of wolf habitat, are flourishing. One pack, called the Amethyst pack, has ten members, the largest Crabtree has seen in the park. Most packs averaged six coyotes before the wolf. Crabtree says it’s because the wolves have made so much more protein available, in the form of dead elk. "If a coyote gets in there to a carcass, and doesn't get killed, it’s got a bonanza." 

Crabtree and Sheldon have also observed that coyotes have changed the places where they spend their time, moving from open meadows to steep terrain. "Carcasses in the open don't attract coyotes much, and if they do, they're very nervous," says Crabtree. "That's because when a coyote gets chased on the flats it’s often killed. In the hills and steep terrain they feel more secure and they can get away. A lot of times a coyote will lead a wolf downhill, and as the wolf comes after it, it turns around and runs uphill. Wolves are bigger and can't stop and the coyote gets a huge lead." 

And even though coyotes, at about 30 pounds, are a third the size of the average wolf, they are not pushovers. Only when a pack of wolves outnumbers coyotes do they attack; when there are more coyotes, they will attack wolves. Crabtree is not aware of any coyotes killing adult wolves, but thinks they might have killed some pups. 

Biologists watched one scene unfold in which four coyotes attacked a wolf pup. A female wolf chased the coyotes off, but eventually they turned on her and pinned her down. She escaped, and swam across the Lamar River, where she was attacked on the other side by another pack of coyotes. Amazingly, she survived
.

http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Publications/Z...olfweb.cfm

Personally, I have a new respect for coyotes now.

taipan Wrote:Coalitionary Killing amongst Packs

"Indeed, the only nonprimate mammal for which coalitionary violence is known to be commonly responsible for adult deaths is the wolf Canis lupus. In at least three sites, adults are known to kill other adults at high rates [Denali (Alaska), Isle Royale (Michigan) and Minnesota] (Mech et al., 1998).
For example in Denali, 39–65% of adult mortality was due to intraspecific killing, based on 22 intraspecific killings recorded
from 17–20 packs (Mech et al., 1998). This is the least disturbed study site of wolves. In northeastern Minnesota, 43% of wolves not killed by humans were killed by other wolves. Killings tended to occur in buffer zones (where territories met), which wolves mostly avoided (Mech, 1994). These data suggested to Mech et al. (1998) that intraspecific killing is a normal consequence of wolf territoriality."
http://www.unl.edu/rhames/courses/war/Wr...onaryx.pdf

dasyurus Wrote:This article suggests so.

Are ravens responsible for wolf packs?
by Ned Rozell 

June 12, 2004
Saturday


People who study animal behavior think they may have found out why wolves hunt in packs-because ravens are such good scavengers.

Scientists who have watched wolves on Isle Royale in Lake Superior came up with the raven-wolf pack theory after puzzling over a question-why do wolves hunt in large groups when a single wolf is able take down a moose on its own?

To find a possible answer, John Vucetich and Rolf Peterson of Michigan Tech and Thomas Waite of Ohio State University examined 27 years of wolf observations on Isle Royale in northern Michigan. Isle Royale, 45 miles long and up to nine miles wide, sits in the northwest lobe of Lake Superior. Designated a national park, the island supports a population of a few dozen wolves and hundreds of moose. Peterson has studied the wolves for more than 30 years, and the group of researchers used his observations and those of his coworkers in the present study.

Peterson's team has seen a single wolf kill a moose 11 times, which weakens the notion that wolves hunt in packs because of the difficulty of killing a moose without help. Vucetich, Peterson and Waite used the years of data from the Isle Royale wolf study to calculate that-in terms of energy burned and meat gained-wolves would do best hunting in pairs.

A 1,000-pound moose is much more than two wolves can eat right away, and that's where the ravens come in. In a study published in Animal Behaviour, the scientists detailed these facts about ravens found by others: individual ravens can eat and carry away up to 4 pounds of food per day from a large carcass and ravens removed half of a 660-pound moose carcass from a kill site in the Yukon Territory.

During the 27 years of Peterson's wolf observations used in the recent study, ravens were present at every wolf kill, often within 60 seconds of a moose's death. Noted raven researcher Bernd Heinrich of the University of Vermont has suggested that ravens evolved with wolves, with ravens possibly leading wolves to moose or caribou, and then later feeding upon the carcasses torn open by wolves.

That the wolf pack exists because of ravens is a new idea, supported by the group's "conservative assumption" that wolves can lose up to 44 pounds of food per day to ravens while feeding upon a carcass. They estimate that a pair of wolves loses about 37 percent of a moose carcass to ravens while a pack of six wolves loses just 17 percent. Ravens sneak in to eat or carry away scraps of moose flesh and organs while wolves are feeding or resting away from the carcass, and the more ravens there are (researchers have counted up to 100 near kill sites), the harder it is for wolves to chase them off.

The urge to avoid starvation may drive wolves to kill "approximately twice as many large prey as would be needed in the absence of ravens," the scientists wrote. They also wrote that 85 to 90 percent of carnivore species hunt alone, and the wolf pack might not exist if not for the pesky, bold raven.

http://www.sitnews.us/0604news/061206/06...ience.html

taipan Wrote:Swedish Wolves (Vargs)

The fabled lone moose killers.

[Image: Varg_350px_T_Lilja.jpg]

Moose hunting - 

Wolf winter predation on moose and roe deer in relation to pack size
Camilla Wikenros 2001


Abstract: Wolf (Canis lupus) winter predation on moose (Alces alces) and roe deer(Capreolus capreolus) were studied in the small, but fast growing wolf population on the Scandinavian Peninsula. Wolves in one territory were radio- and snow-tracked during two successive winters. The wolf pack consisted of an adult pair during the first winter (1999–2000), and of an adult male and three pups the following winter. Kill rate on moose was 7.4–9.2 days/kill for the adult pair and 4.0–4.8 days/kill for the pack of four wolves. The consumed proportion of wolf-killed moose at first feeding occasion was relatively low during both winters (44% and 51%) but wolves utilized carcasses by revisits at previous kill sites. Wolves did not select to kill malnourished moose as nutritional condition of wolf-killed moose was comparable to moose harvested by hunters. Handling time at first feeding occasion did not differ with increased pack size, but were longer for the pups as compared to the adult male. The adult male and pups were solitary in 61–68% of all locations during the second year of study while the adult pair was solitary in 13% during the first year of study. Hunting success of the adult male on moose (60%) and roe deer (100%) during the second year of study was higher as compared to the first year (21% and 55%). Chasing distances during successful attacks by wolves on roe deer were longer thanon moose."

Other interesting findings - 

"Of the 21 wolf-killed moose, 4 were killed by the adult male alone, and 14 by the adult male in company with one or two pups. For the remaining three moose, the numbers of wolves involved in the killings were unknown."

"Hunting success in the Grangärde territory in winter of 2000–2001 was 60% on moose and 100% on roe deer. This was higher than reported from Alaska (26% on moose, Mech et al. 1998) and Canada (46% on white-tailed deer, Kolenosky 1972). The higher hunting success rate in the Grangärde territory could result from prey being more inexperienced to predators (Berger et al. 2001) but more data need to be gathered from other wolf packs."

"During both winters, wolves killed more calves than adults, and all adults were ! 7 years old. That wolves prey primarily on young-of-the-year and animals in older age-classes, are in accordance with other studies where moose are the primary prey (Pimlott 1967, Hayes et al. 1991, Mech et al. 1995, Olsson et al. 1997, Mech et al. 1998, Hayes et al. 2000). Fuller and Keith (1980) explained this by the fact that young and old moose most likely are easier to kill than animals in their prime age. Moreover, all wolf-killed adult moose during the study were females. A female biased predation on adult moose is in accordance with Olsson et al. (1997) who reported that wolves killed no males older than two years old, during a study in south-central Sweden. Adult female moose is probably easier to kill for wolves than adult male moose due to their smaller size."

http://www.de5stora.com/illustrationer/f...132025.pdf

taipan Wrote:"One vivid example of this occurred in 1997. The Soda Butte pack (now the Yellowstone Delta pack), which was released in October 1996, settled around Heart Lake, denning in a cave near the thermal features of Witch Creek. In early 1997, the Thorofare pack formed and occupied an area south of the southeast arm of Yellowstone Lake. In summer, Badger Creek was a hotspot for them. Their den was close to the Yellowstone River. Summer passed uneventfully, with the two packs never coming close to each other.
In summer, the area occupied by both packs pulsates with several thousand elk. By winter, most of these elk have migrated south or east, a few north, to winter range. However, deep snow did not come until December that year, later than normal, delaying the elk migration. Once the snow came, the elk moved, and so did the wolves. The Soda Butte pack, four adults with four pups, moved into the territory of the Thorofare pack, which had two adults with six pups. In a pack-to pack confrontation, a number of factors typically play a role in determining the winner: whose turf is it (whether a pack is trespassing or defending), which pack has more wolves, and the level of experience possessed by those wolves. In this case, the Soda Butte pack was trespassing, which put them at a disadvantage, but they had an equal number of wolves and more experience, likely giving them an edge. Because none of the pups would be of help, this battle would be four-on-two.
The two packs clashed in late December. As is typical, the Soda Butte wolves attacked an alpha, male #35. They caught him along the shoreline of Yellowstone Lake and tore him to shreds, leaving nothing but hair, blood, and urine. Wolf Project staff could see where he made his last stand, as the story was told in the tracks in the snow. It appeared that the other wolves in his pack had fled when the attack started. In his effort to survive, #35 had dived below a fallen log on the shoreline, where he found a deep hole, likely hollowed out by strong lakeshore winds. He had backed himself up against the onslaught in this hole, but his defense had been futile. I walked over to an area nearby and picked up his radio collar, placed as if someone had laid it on the snow. Most collars in these situations are found still on the animal. Two other wolves probably died as a result of this encounter.
It appeared that the surviving wolves fled south along the Yellowstone River. The alpha female, #30, and a pup, #127,
turned up Escarpment Creek into steeper terrain. It was the first time Wolf Project staff had located them there, and the area was probably unfamiliar to them. This route proved fatal, as #30 and her pup were killed in an avalanche. After mortality signals alerted us to this cluster of dead wolves, we flew in by helicopter to try to sort out what had happened. We attempted to dig #30 and #127 out of avalanche debris, but after we had dug down well over our heads and seen no sign of either wolf, we decided to defer searching until the snow was gone. When we returned by horseback that summer, all that was left were two wolf skeletons surrounded by bright blue harebells near a clear pool at the bottom of a small waterfall. A third collar was recovered up the Thorofare River. It had been chewed off, but no wolf was found.
The Thorofare pack had been broken apart, and both alphas were dead. The remaining pups traveled in a loose coalition for the rest of the winter, but split up in the spring. Some of these pups went on to form other wolf packs—the Washakie and Gros Ventre packs south of the park—again showing the resilience of wolves."

http://64.241.25.110/yell/pdfs/yellsci/YS13(1).pdf

Here's some wolf mortality due to wolves - Yellowstone NP. 

Wolf 4M, May 20, 1996 in the Park near Soda Butte Creek. This wolf was the alpha male of the Crystal Creek Pack. No. 4 died after a fight with the Druid Peak Pack. 

Wolf 20M, about June 18, 1996 near Slough Creek in the Park. No.20, a yearling and son of no. 9F and 10M, was also killed in a fight with the Druid Peak Pack. Story on 20M and 32F.

Wolf 19F and four pups (nos. 73-76) in late April 1997. No. 19 was killed by other wolves (probably the Druid Peak Pack) after she denned alone near Slough Creek in Yellowstone Park. After her death, the four pups-of-the-year died of malnutrition and exposure. Number 19 was part of the Rose Creek pack and the daughter of no. 9F and 10M.

Wolf 27F, was killed by the ADC at Sage Creek south of Dillon, Montana on October 8. This bold wolf had actually jumped and snapped at the helicopter instead of submitting when she was captured in British Columbia. In Yellowstone she met with bad luck, although she bore five pups. The ADC killed her because she may have killed a calf at Sage Creek (in her case, a third offense). She was a very light gray wolf.

Wolf 35M. Natural mortality in early February (?) 1998. No. 35, the alpha male of the Thorofare Pack, was killed by the Soda Butte Pack near the mouth of the Yellowstone River as it empties into Yellowstone Lake. It is assumed 35's death happened after that of no. 30F and pup 127 listed below. Number 30F and 35M were the alpha pair of the Thorofare Pack. The deaths resulted in the pack's disintegration.

Wolf 43M. The 2 3/4 year-old male from the Soda Butte Pack was killed by other wolves (almost certainly the Crystal Creek pack) in Yellowstone near Turbid Lake sometime in early February. His frozen carcass was recovered.

Wolf 40F, alpha female of the Druid Peak Pack was killed in the Lamar Valley by her pack mates on May 7, 2000. Story. 
Ironically, the death of no. 40 resulted in a population explosion in the pack. It is likely she had been suppressing the pack's size, probably by killing pups that were not her own.

Wolf 129F and 230F (uncollared, but probably at least 2 years old) of the Gros Ventre Pack were killed September 24. by USFWS in the Gros Ventre Mountains after they had killed Bob Ingalls' cattle and 3 livestock dogs.

Wolf 7F. Co-founder of the Leopold Pack was found dead in northern Yellowstone on May 4, killed by other wolves. 7F was the long time alpha female of the Leopold Pack

Wolf 2M, Co-founder of the Leopold Pack was killed on New Year's Eve by the Geode Pack near Hellroaring Slopes. His mate 7F had been killed May 4 by the Geode Pack. 2M was the last of the original 14 wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995. 

Wolf 211M, a loner, originally from the Leopold Pack, was found dead in late January 21 near Slough Creek in YNP. 211 had been killed by other wolves in an area of intense competition between wolf packs. An earlier USFWS report incorrectly identified the dead wolf as 210M.
 
200F, the alpha female of the Teton Pack. Found dead April 27, probably killed by some of her pack. 

105F, the alpha female of the Buffalo Fork Pack was found dead in mid-June in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness north of Yellowstone Park. She was killed by the rival Rose Creek Pack

http://www.forwolves.org/ralph/deadwolf.htm
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
#3
Ursus arctos Wrote:
taipan Wrote:Man-Eating Wolves
*********************************************************************

India fighting plague of man-eating wolves

By JOHN F. BURNS: New York Times Front Page:: Sep 1,'96.

BANBIRPUR, India -- When the man-eating wolf came to this tranquil village toward dusk on an evening in mid-August, it was every child's worst nightmare come true.

The wolf pounced while Urmila Devi and three of her eight children were in a grassy clearing at the edge of the village, using the open ground for a toilet. The animal, about 100 pounds of coiled sinew and muscle, seized the smallest child, a 4-year-old boy named Anand Kumar, and carried him by the neck into the luxuriant stands of corn and elephant grass that stretch to a nearby riverbank.

When a police search party found the boy three days later, half a mile away, all that remained was his head. From the claw and tooth marks, pathologists confirmed he had been killed by a wolf -- probably one of a pack that conservationists believe has been roaming this area, driven to killing small children by hunger or by something else that has upset the natural instinct of wolves to avoid humans, like thrill-seeking villagers stealing cubs from a lair.

It has been more than a century since India faced the threat of man-eating wolves on anything like the scale now terrorizing this region of the state of Uttar Pradesh. Since the first killing five months ago, 33 children have been carried off and killed by wolves, according to police figures, and 20 others have been seriously mauled, along this stretch of the Ganges River basin 350 miles from New Delhi. A hunt by thousands of villagers and police officers has killed only 10 wolves so far.

With new attacks each week, hysteria is sweeping the area of the killings, a terrain of lush fields interlaced with rivers and ravines that reaches about 60 miles north to south and about 40 miles across. More than 9 million people live in the region in some of the harshest poverty found in India.

A frenzy of rumors has put the blame for the killings not on wolves but on werewolves, the half-man, half-wolf creatures that have stalked their way through folklore for about as long as human societies have existed.

Other rumors have put the blame for the killings on infiltrators from Pakistan, who are said to have dressed up as wolves. Pakistan is India's traditional enemy.

Villagers have turned against strangers, and sometimes against one another, in lynchings that have killed at least 20 people and prompted the authorities to arrest 150 others.

"It's the worst wolf menace anywhere in the world in at least 100 years," said Ram Lakhan Singh, the animal conservationist chosen to lead an effort to kill wolves suspected of attacking humans.

The hunt involves thousands of villagers and police officers armed with bamboo staves and 12-gauge shotguns. But nobody can be sure that any of the wolves shot so far were part of the pack that Singh and other experts believe is responsible for the deaths.

Matters are still far from the disaster of 1878, when British officials in this area recorded 624 human killings by wolves. But fear is pervasive. Men stay awake all night, keeping vigil with antique rifles and staves. Mothers keep children from the fields, and infants are kept inside all day.

In the dark interiors of stark brick homes made clammy by the monsoons, fantastical stories are told, sweeping aside all attempts by officials to convince villagers that the killers have been wolves.

"It came across the grass on all four paws, like this," said Sita Devi, the 10-year-old sister of the boy killed by a wolf in Banbirpur on Aug. 16, as she moved forward in a crouch from a cluster of villagers gathered by a well. She told her story with tears in her eyes, to anxious murmurs from the crowd.

"As it grabbed Anand, it rose onto two legs until it was tall as a man," she said. "Then it threw him over its shoulder. It was wearing a black coat, and a helmet and goggles."

The girl's grandfather, Ram Lakhan Panday, who drove a truck in Calcutta for 50 years before retiring to his native village, said: "As long as officials pressure us to say it was a wolf, we'll say it was a wolf. But we have seen this thing with our own eyes. It is not a wolf; it is a human being."

Nearly half of India's 930 million people are illiterate, and the figure is higher in villages like Banbirpur. Many men head off to Bombay, Delhi and Calcutta in search of menial jobs, but living in slums among others much like themselves, they learn little to allay the superstitions of village life.

In the case of wolves, these are compounded by fairy tales told to children -- Indian versions of "Little Red Riding Hood" -- in which wolves, and werewolves, are represented as among the most cunning and dangerous of all creatures.

As a saffron sunset settled into night this week, Singh, the animal conservationist, met with other officials on the veranda of a rain-stained bungalow at Manjanpur, another village hit by a wolf killing, and pored over hand-drawn maps. Tracing his finger over dotted lines connecting red triangles, denoting wolf killings, and blue circles, denoting maulings by the wolves, Singh showed why he believed that a single wolf pack was responsible for the attacks.

"There has never been more than one attack on a single day, and the same village has never been attacked twice," he said. "This cannot be coincidence."

Speaking by the light of a kerosene lamp, Singh said that studies in India, some going back a century and more, showed that wolves could cover 40-50 miles in a day. "So we seem to be dealing here with a single pack," he said.

From villagers' accounts, most attacks have occurred between midnight and 4 A.M. Because of the stifling heat and cramped village homes, many women sleep outside on latticed cots called charpoys, infants beside them, making inviting targets for the wolves. In other cases, marks on dirt floors have shown how wolves have crept through doorways and carried off their prey.

Singh is convinced that the most likely cause for the attacks is hunger. For five years in the 1980s, Singh was director of India's troubled effort to save its diminishing stock of tigers. That experience showed him how India's fast-growing population, competing with wild animals for land and resources, had driven some species, including tigers, to desperation in the struggle to survive.

In the early 1970s, India expanded its animal sanctuaries to a total of more than 60,000 square miles, about 5 percent of the country's area, and adopted a far-reaching wildlife protection statute. Tigers were on the list, as were wolves. But while the number of tigers continued to plunge, with many poached to feed the market for tiger parts elsewhere in Asia, wolf populations soared.

Singh, directing the effort here to hunt the wolves, believes the growing numbers have now outstripped the habitat available to support the wolves, at least in eastern Uttar Pradesh, causing some of the hungrier animals to become man-eaters.

At the meeting in Manjanpur, Singh drafted plans for hundreds of square miles along riverbanks in the area, known to be the favored spot for wolves' lairs, to be patrolled full time by hunters.

In addition, a bounty of 10,000 rupees, equivalent to about $285, more than many families earn in a year, will be offered for every dead wolf brought in by villagers. A century ago, when the British offered a 5-rupee bounty (about 15 cents), similar methods led to the slaying of nearly 2,600 wolves, and brought an end to the wolf killings in nine months.

Some Indian conservationists worry that a similar campaign this time -- especially if it is repeated elsewhere across India, where isolated incidents of wolves killing children have occurred -- could lead to wolves becoming extinct.

Singh has no patience for this view.

"Crime and punishment applies to every living thing, humans and animals," he said. "The wolves have to learn that they cannot live next to human beings and misbehave. If they do, they must be killed." Then he pronounced what sounded like a death sentence for the wolf in the wild.

"Enough care has been taken for these animals," he said. "We simply cannot have carnivores roaming around densely populated areas anymore. If India is going to save the wolf, it is going to have to be in sanctuaries."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ragupathy Kannan, Ph.D.
Department of Biology
Westark Community College
Fort Smith, Arkansas 72913
U.S.A.
Tel: (501)788-7616
FAX: (501)788-7612
rkannan@systema.westark.edu
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

http://ces.iisc.ernet.in/hpg/envis/woldoc94.html

taipan Wrote:Mollie's Pack Pays High Price for a Bison Meal in Yellowstone National Park
By Dan MacNulty



The wolf pack ambled toward the shaggy bull bison as the first blush of dawn illuminated the snow-covered hills. A stubborn coat of frost clung to the bison's gaunt flanks and his breath hung like thin white sheets in the frigid morning air. The bull calmly watched the wolves from his position on a small patch of bare ground; one of many bare patches, created by geothermal and wind action, that dot the mountain valley like an archipelago in an ocean of snow. 

Two black and two gray wolves moved ahead of the pack's four other members and arrived first at the perimeter of the patch containing the obstinate bison. A dozen ravens soared and dived about the bison as the morning wind gathered force. One black wolf split from the group and circled to the bison's rear. The bison pawed the ground with his front hooves and watched the other wolves gather in front of him. The black wolf at the bison's rear sniffed the ground near the bison, perhaps to gain some clue about the bison's physical condition. 

The black wolf raised his head and stepped closer to the bison's rear. With outstretched neck and head, the wolf carefully leaned forward on his forelimbs. The intense desire to bite the bison's hind end was likely offset by the prospect of a crushing, and possibly fatal, blow from a hoof. The three other wolves pressed closer and started to harass the bison. Now completely surrounded, the bison initiated his defense. In a single swift motion the bison turned and charged the wolf at his rear. As that wolf backed away the other three wolves closed quickly on the bison's rear, which was now exposed to them. The bison spun once more and scattered the three wolves. 

The pack's matriarch, wolf #174, now limped into the scene and joined the attack. #174 had sustained an injury to her front right leg earlier in the winter, possibly during a bison hunt. The limp did not appear to dampen #174's enthusiasm for the attack. She lunged at the bison's hind end, right along side six other wolves. A single wolf hovered about the edges of the conflict, unwilling to participate in the attack. 

In rapid succession the bison launched a series of kicks with his back legs. The wolves were quick to dodge the strikes, weaving from side to side. Suddenly, a hind hoof found its mark and a black wolf was catapulted backwards from the tight knot of wolves gathered at the bison's rear. Without pause, another black wolf grabbed the bison with his teeth, only to be bucked off in seconds. 

A third black wolf started at the bison's front end. As the wolf lunged, the bison stepped forward to meet his attacker like a veteran fighter. Without hesitation, the bison tilted his massive head downward, hooked the wolf with his horns, and tossed the predator into the air. The wolf twisted and squirmed before crashing to the ground in a heap. The bison let loose another barrage of hind kicks, sending two more wolves tumbling backward. #174 seized upon the bison's momentary inattention to her presence, and locked onto his haunch with her jaws. The bison immediately kicked backward at #174. With veteran prowess of her own, #174 maintained her grip and avoided a direct blow by positioning her body just to the side of the bison's rear end. She could hold on for only so long. The bison's constant and rapid bucking finally shook her off. After nearly an hour of continuous harassment the wolves finally relented. One by one the panting wolves pulled back and laid down a short distance from the bison. The bison appeared remarkably unfazed by the onslaught. He remained standing and maintained a steady watch over the wolves as they turned onto their sides and stretched out their weary legs. Nonetheless, the bison's rump was damp with blood, belying the injuries he sustained. 

The attack described above was the first of a series carried out against the bull bison by the Mollie's Pack in Yellowstone National Park on March 6, 2003. The wolves periodically attacked the bison over a 12-hour period from dawn to dusk. Between attacks the wolves would rest and watch the bison. If the bull attempted to lie down the wolves would quickly rise and resume their attack. As darkness fell the wolves continued to press their attack, while the bison maintained his stubborn defense. The next morning, however, the wolves were found feeding on the bison's carcass in the small snow-free patch where he once stood. 

This observation was recorded during the Yellowstone Wolf Project's annual winter predation study. The study has been ongoing since wolves were restored to Yellowstone in 1995. The predation study occurs for 30 days in early winter (mid-November to mid-December) and for 30 days in late winter (March). During each period teams of two observers are assigned to daily monitor one of several wolf packs inhabiting Yellowstone's Northern Range. Although both elk and bison inhabit the Northern Range, wolves attack and kill mainly elk in this area because elk are safer to kill compared to bison. 

Since 1999, monitoring has also occurred for 2-4 weeks during March in a remote mountain valley located in Yellowstone's interior. This area is at least 1000 feet higher than the Northern Range, and snows accumulate to such an extent that most elk leave the area during the winter. A small and sturdy bison population remains in the valley due to an abundance of hotsprings, fumaroles, and other geothermal features. South-facing and wind-blown slopes provide additional winter refuge for bison. 

Like beads on a string these habitat patches are linked together by trails created by the bison as they traverse from one patch to the next, searching for food. Bison will organize themselves in a single file line as they travel along these narrow trails. In this way bison minimize the amount of energy they must expend to move between patches. Stepping out of line and off the trail can leave a bison bogged down and even immobilized in the deep snow. A bison in this situation is highly vulnerable to wolf predation because it is unable to defend itself. Consequently, wolves are quick to attack if they find bison struggling through the snow. In general, wolves are able to walk on top of the snow pack without breaking through. 

Although a trail between two patches provides a route to safety, predation risk on the trail remains high because bison anti-predator behavior is restricted in two main ways. First, the range of aggressive responses bison can use to repel wolves is reduced. A bison moving in the narrow confines of a trail is unable to spin to protect its rear and cannot charge after wolves without moving off the trail. Second, while on a trail bison are unable to defend themselves cooperatively. Bison that are attacked when traveling between patches cannot configure themselves in a group without leaving the trail. A herd's only option is to move forward or backward along the trail. Reduced bison anti-predator behavior decreases the chance that a wolf will be maimed or killed during an attack. As a result, bison that are traveling between patches are much less dangerous, and therefore much more vulnerable to wolf predation than bison that remain on a patch. But while patches reduce predation risk, they by no means eliminate predation risk. 

The ability of the Mollie's pack to kill a bull bison on a patch clearly demonstrates that under the right conditions bison can be vulnerable while on a patch. In the case of the bull bison, at least three circumstances likely contributed to his vulnerability. First, the bull was solitary and not in a herd. As a result, he could not rely on other bison to assist in repelling the wolves. Second, the patch occupied by the bull was quite small, which reduced the area in which he was able to maneuver against the wolves. Third, inspection of the bull's teeth indicated that he was at least 10 years of age, suggesting that his endurance was limited. Combined, these factors likely made the bison a relatively safe target for the wolves. 

But despite the favorable conditions for predation, the Mollie's pack suffered significant casualties. Sometime during the melee of the initial attack, female wolf #175, sister to #174, broke her right rear foot. She was clearly limping following the first attack and refrained from participating in all subsequent attacks. For the remainder of the day #175 lay curled up in a ball, while her pack mates continued to attack the bull. #175's lethargy continued into the next day. While the rest of the pack fed at the bison carcass she remained huddled nearby. The pack spent four more days at the carcass. Not once during this period was #175 seen feeding. This suggests that #175 sustained internal injuries that were far graver than her broken foot. #175 eventually died; her body was found curled up in the well of a large spruce tree about a mile from the bison carcass. At least two other wolves, besides #174, were limping slightly when the pack finally left the bison carcass. These wolves, however, had no trouble keeping up with the pack. 

Interestingly, the encounter between Mollie's pack and the bull bison is remarkably similar to a scene depicted by frontier artist George Catlin in the early 1800's during a visit to the Great Plains. His painting shows a large number of wolves harassing an aged bull bison. In notes accompanying the painting, Catlin explained that the bison eventually succumbed to the continued attacks of the wolves. Before dying, however, the bison killed two of the wolves, which were, as Catlin said "crushed to death by the feet or horns of the bull". 

Catlin's seminal observation suggests that wolf recovery in Yellowstone has also led to the recovery of a unique predator-prey relationship. Although Yellowstone National Park is only a very small fraction of the area that historically contained wolves and bison, it provides a rare opportunity to study the ecology of a wolf-bison system in the contiguous United States. This system will hopefully inspire and inform future efforts to restore wolves and bison to suitable areas elsewhere in their historic range. 

Dan MacNulty began studying the behavioral interactions between wolves and ungulates in Yellowstone National Park as a park service volunteer in 1995. He went on to attend graduate school at the University of Minnesota where he is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. His research examines the behavioral mechanisms that influence the effects of wolf predation on Yellowstone's elk and bison populations

http://www.wolfnews.org/articles/wyoming...27-01.html

reddhole Wrote:Below is an interesting study on how wolves and grizzlies kill moose. Wolves attack the rear legs and sometimes (if in a pack) try to hold the moose's nose. Grizzlies seem to kill mostly by biting the back of the neck/vertebrae regions.

Originally published in the scientific journal:

Arctic Vol. 31, No. 4 (Dec. 1978) P 499-502

http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic31-4-499.pdf

Characteristics of Wolf Attacks on Moose in Mount McKinley National Park, Alaska k STEVEN W. BUSKIRK' AND PHILIP S. GIPSON

Wildlife managers often need to determine if wild animals, particularly ungulates, were killed by predators or if they died of other causes. Research has been conducted with livestock to help distinguish between losses to predators and losses from other causes (Browns et al., 1973; Connolly et al., 1976; Murie, 1948; Wade, 1973; Wiley and Bolen, 1971). characteristic wounds and field signs resulting from predator attacks on deer and other wild ungulates have also been described (Crisler, 1958; Gray 1970; Mech, 1970; Murie, 1944; Nielson, 1975; Ozoga and Harger, 1966). The present paper describes attack patterns and wounds inflicted on moose (alces alces) by wolves (Canus lupus) and comments on attacks by grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) on ungulates in Mount McKinley National Park, Alaska. 

Visible wounds associated with attacks were examined to determine if the predator could be identified by type and location of wounds. The area surrounding carcasses was searched for blood, tracks, broken vegetation, and other signs that might aid in identifying the predator involved. 

From May 1974 to September 1977 the senior author examined 11 moose that had been injured or killed by wolves. All had cuts on the posterior surface of one or both rear legs. The posterior leg wounds occurred from the -hock dorsally midway up the rump and varied from small superficial cuts concealed by hair to gaping skin perforations over 4 cm in diameter. Subcutaneous hemorrhage and muscle contusion was evident beneath the more severe skin lacerations. 

Injuries on the rear legs were apparently made by canine teeth of wolves as they gripped the legs of moose from the rear. Such attacks have often been considered attempts to hamstring prey (Young, 1944). Generally, hamstringing refers to severing the Achilles tendon but no severed tendons were noted among the moose killed by wolves in this study, even when posterior leg tendons were exposed and muscles damaged. Mech (1970) was critical of out that no recent studies of the killing tactics of wolves indicated that hamstringing is common. 

Another sign of wolf attack on moose which we observed on two occasions was tooth punctures of the fleshy nose. These punctures caused bleeding and blood was sprayed on vegetation and snow.
Blood was apparently atomized as it was blown forcefully from the nostrils of the frightened moose. The fleshy nose is highly palatable and often the first portion of the carcass to be eaten. Thus, lacking other signs, the presence of atomized blood on snow or vegetation may be the only indicator of nose injury before death. Mech (1970) described three attacks on adult moose by packs of wolves and in each instance wolves grabbed the moose by the nose. Mech mentioned blood on the snow from the injured moose, but did not describe sprayed areas where blood was blown from the nose. Nielson (1975) described a deer killed by coyotes that apparently had been held by the nose. 

Signs of wolf attack of less diagnostic value were lacerations or amputation of one or both ears and lacerations of the perineum or lateral and dorsal neck. 

Simultaneous attacks on a calf and a cow moose by three wolves were observed by several park visitors in September 1977 and reported to Buskirk. A group of five moose (one bull, three cows, and a calf) were observed feeding near the park road. Following a general commotion among the moose, the calf moved away from the others and was attached by two wolves. One wolf held the calf by the nose while the second wolf attacked from the rear. A cow, presumably the mother of the calf, approached and was attacked from the rear by the third wolf. The two wolves quickly killed the calf and moved away from the carcass. The cow approached and looked closely at the carcass of the calf, then left the area. She was limping noticeably in the hind legs.

One attack was observed of a moose calf accompanied by a cow and a second calf. The calf (approximately 3 months old) was abandoned by the cow moose and the second calf following repeated harassment by wolves. It fled into a small pond when approached by two wolves which alternately swam to the calf and bit it along the dorsal neck until it ceased to struggle. The wolves waited for three hours until the carcass floated to shore and began feeding. 

One incident of wolf predation on Dall sheep (Ovis dulli) and attacks by grizzly bears on moose and one caribou (Rungifer rungifer) were also investigated. An adult ewe sheep was killed by wolves in low country while the ewe was crossing from one mountain to another. Lacerations were present on one side of the neck and the posterior surface of one hind leg. No injuries were found on the nose, throat, or dorsal back.

Two adult moose killed by grizzly bears were examined. Both carcasses showed multiple puncture wounds along the mid-dorsal line from the occiput to the lumbar region. These punctures had apparently been made by the canine teeth of adult grizzlies. The underlying fascia was tom and hemorrhaged. Dorsal vertebral processes had been fractured, and muscle macerated. The head and neck of one moose was severely injured. The left orbit was compound fractured ventrally and the left ear amputated. Both grizzly-killed adult moose showed claw scratches on the skin of the lateral thorax which could be observed only by clearing the thorax of hair. Murie (1948) described results of post-mortem examinations of grizzly-killed cattle in Wyoming. He consistently noted bite marks on the dorsal back or back similar to injuries on the moose that we examined in Mount McKinley. The bite wounds that Murie noted were occasionally accompanied by soft tissue trauma to the neck and face.

Three juvenile (< 4 weeks old) moose were killed by grizzlies, but no useful information was obtained since consumption of the carcasses was nearly complete before they were found. 

Reddhole Comment: The account below almost certainly sounds like the famous female grizzly killing a bull caribou scene from many nature films. Apparently, this caribou was injured by wolves prior to this scene.
Observations were made and motion pictures taken by Mr. Earl Senn and others of an adult female grizzly accompanied by yearling cubs killing an adult male caribou along the East Fork River on 15 August 1973 (Reardon, 1974). According to witnesses, the caribou had been attacked and injured by wolves prior to the grizzly attack. In the movie, the caribou stood facing the grizzly and intermittently charged. The grizzly grasped the caribou with one forepaw between the antlers and over the neck and the other forepaw under the neck. The bear then seized the struggling -&aribou near the occiput with its teeth. Several times the bear adjusted its bite, taking in more of the dorsal neck. The caribou lost its footing and fell to the ground. The bear continued to bite and the caribou quickly succumbed. The cubs did not participate in killing the caribou.

Signs that generally indicate death due to predation are skin lacerations or punctures accompanied by subcutaneous hemorrhaging and blood on vegetation or the ground (Connolly et al., 1976; Wade, 1973; Mech, 1970; Nielson, 1975). Vegetation is usually broken and trampled and tracks of the predator are often apparent. In subzero temperatures, the abdominal viscera of predator-killed ungulates are usually found frozen"outside the body cavity, having been removed before the prey carcass froze. The prey animal often shows signs of a violent chase such as broken antlers or hooves cut by sharp rocks. Moose that die of non-predatory causes are often found in a resting posture (Stephenson and Johnson, 1973). The skeletons of carcasses that were solidly frozen before scavenging tended to remain articulated longer than skeletons of ungulates fed upon promptly. All of these criteria should be considered in the context of weather, snow conditions, and other attending circumstances. 

In this investigation, wolves attacked the hind legs, nose, and dorsal and lateral neck of moose, one calf caribou, and one adult sheep. Grizzlies bit the dorsal neck and back of adult moose and adult caribou.

reddhole Wrote:Of course, I do.  Smile

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reddhole Wrote:2/12/06, Isle Royale. - Don Glaser, our pilot, had just picked me up from Lake LeSage, where I had spent the past several hours snowshoeing into a site where Chippewa Harbor Pack had killed a moose a few days before. I performed a necropsy and collected a few bones that we'd later study in more detail.

It was later in the day. I expected it would be a routine ending to a beautiful, but routine, day. Before flying back to Washington Harbor, our winter base, we would make one final check for the day on each of the packs. I'd expect to find each pack and record their locations and activity.

We flew upon East Pack just as they were crossing over to the west side of McCargo Cove. How bold. Two weeks ago, East Pack killed the alpha male of Chippewa Harbor Pack. Now, as they crossed to the West side of McCargo Cove, they would be in territory that usually belongs to Chippewa Harbor Pack.

I had been fortunate enough to witness East Pack kill the alpha male of Chippewa Harbor Pack. It was the most dramatic wolf event I had ever observed. I expected it would be some time before witnessing anything like that again.

We didn't have much daylight left. So, we couldn't watch East Pack for too long and expect to find the other packs. After noting the direction of travel and number of wolves, I suggested to Don that we start looking for Chippewa Harbor Pack. As we were leaving the area, I noticed a bull moose feeding in a thinly forested area just ahead and upwind of the direction East Pack was traveling. Hmmm. Should we wait and see what happens. If we waited, we wouldn't find the other packs. Besides, I'd seen this many times: a pack of wolves tests or chases a moose and then nothing. The moose escapes and the wolves regroup.

Although I expected that today was going to be routine, nothing about Don Glaser's life is routine. He suggested that we wait and see what happens. I happily agreed, but expected nothing.

The moose was just about 200 yards ahead of East Pack.  A thick stand of cedars separate the wolves and the moose.  It took a few minutes for East Pack to arrive at the other side of the cedars, where the land was more sparsely cover in aspen.  Just as East Pack punched through a very thick stand of cedars, the wolves and moose saw each other. They were perhaps just 50 meters away from each other.

In an instant the moose spun around and fled. The wolves followed as quickly. When the wolves were at his heels, the moose stopped and spun around again to make a stand. The wolves skidded to a stop and then lurched back a few steps. Within another moment, wolves surrounded the moose. Wolves at the moose's rear lunged. The moose tried to turn and face each lunge. But every turn left some other wolf free to lunge. For a brief moment, there was a beak in the circle of wolves that enclosed the moose. The moose bolted for that opening, heading for the thick cedar stand from which the wolves first came. From there the moose might be able to protect his back side with a large tree or thicket of small trees. As the moose passed by one of the wolves, it lunged and bit deeply into the moose's right, hind quarter. Running through deep snow, the moose drug 80 pounds of wolf attached by the sharp, powerful points of its four canine teeth. With each forward lunge of the moose, the wolf was violently struck in the belly by the moose's rear leg.

After 20 meters, the moose broke free from the wolf and ran unhindered. The wolves pursued. The moose didn't quite make the edge of the thick cedar stand when the wolves caught up and one managed to bite and hang from its teeth on the moose's hind quarter. The moose slowed down considerably. A second wolf leapt and hung by its teeth to the moose's rear. Dragging 160 pounds of wolf caused to the moose to slow enough for the alpha male to run to the moose's front. It aimed to bite and weigh down the moose's nose. From this position, a wolf is relatively safe from being kicked by a front leg, and the moose is more easily brought down with wolves attached to both ends.

Although the moose was stopped, it was still standing and still extremely dangerous. The alpha male waited and maneuvered to find a safe angle and timing of attack. The moose never gave such an opportunity, and the alpha never managed to grab the moose's nose. During this time, four wolves - 320 pounds - had grabbed the moose's rear end, causing his rear legs to collapse to the ground. Amazingly, the moose's front remained upright, and still no wolf could bite his nose. By means difficult to envision, the moose shook himself free from all four wolves and stood up. However, the moose remained surrounded by the eight wolves of East Pack. Some were focused and waiting for the right moment to attack, others milled around just waiting to feed.

After several minutes in this formation, one wolf attacked, then a second, third, and fourth. The moose's rear was brought to the ground once again, where it remained for several minutes. The pounded out snow had begun to turn pink and then red with the moose's blood. After a few minutes the moose managed to once again shake the wolves. This cycle of being brought half-down and then recovering repeated itself two more times. In the final cycle, 40 minutes after the wolves first chased the bull, his front end collapsed soon after the wolves had brought down the rear end. As the once powerful and magnificent body of this bull moose hit the ground, all eight wolves struck the moose and began tearing its flesh from all sides. From the ground he could no longer kick. For a few moments, the wolves fed while the moose was not quite dead.


At some unknown moment, the moose's spirit passed, and the spirit of the East Pack wolves was renewed. This miracle of live and death occurs several times a week on Isle Royale. Worldwide, more than 250 species live by the flesh of other warm-blooded animals. Except for plants and scavengers, all animals live from the living flesh of some other organism. In such a world, no day is routine. Only lack of awareness makes the day seem routine.

http://www.isleroyalewolf.org/photo_ess/..._moose.htm


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reddhole Wrote:Yes, nose holds are most commonly done by the alpha male (these animals also have been shown to have higher rates of hunting injuries). In the above recent account from Isle Royale, you can read that the alpha male tried (but failed) to secure a nose hold on that bull moose.

Nose holds are pretty commonly used by canids (i.e. AWDs, dholes, wolves) when hunting in packs for the appropriate type of prey. Basically, this a prey animal that can't be killed by a throat hold (or is very difficult to kill by one) and can be controlled by such a hold without undo risk.

In wolves, this usually translates to moose and bull elk. The adult bison kills I've seen had wounds restricted to their rear legs and rumps - evidently nose holds are usually too risky with them.

In dholes I've seen them use nose holds on chital stags, but not sure if they do so on larger prey (sambar, banteng).

I've read of AWDs using nose holds on adult zebra, but think I've seen them do so on wildebeest too.

reddhole Wrote:Below is an account of a single wolf killing a yearling bull moose from Dr. David Mech's book "Wolves of Denali", which was about his study of wolves there. While it is true this was a small yearling bull moose (estimated weight of 350-400 lbs.) in poor nutritional condition (33% marrow fat), I find this account to be impressive for the following reasons:

1) The wolf itself was injured prior to and during the attack (often running on only 3 legs):

[Image: WolfInjuriesfromDenali002.jpg]

2) The attack occurred during summer where the moose is not impeded by snow.

3) Most of the attack occurred in an environment favoring the moose - the moose's longer legs give it better maneuverability in the river.

4) Despite the Moose's poor nutritional condition, it fought back "vigorously" for the first day.

Photo of the Attack

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Description of the Attack

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dasyurus Wrote:Reddhole, your contibutions are extremely informative & interesting. Thanks for sharing Smile

Here is a recent article about the relationship between Moose & wolves in Isle Royale National Park, USA :

Wolves, Moose Struggling On Isle Royale National Park, USA
Source: Michigan Tech 
Date: March 12, 2007 

Science Daily — A plague of ticks, stifling hot summers and relentless pressure from wolves have driven the moose population on Isle Royale National Park to its lowest ebb in at least 50 years.

Their numbers have sunk from last year’s record low of 450 down to 385, the lowest since researchers began tracking their numbers on this wilderness Lake Superior archipelago. Now in its 49th year, the project is the world's longest-running study of predator-prey relationships.

“Along with this is an even more impressive decline in wolves, from 30 to 21,” said John Vucetich, an assistant professor at Michigan Technological University. “The main reason is a lack of food.” For wolves, that translates into a lack of moose.

In 2002, the island was home to more than a thousand moose. Since then, unusually warm summers have dealt a double whammy to the big herbivores: They lose their appetites and seek shelter from the heat, putting them in a worse position to survive winter. And the climate change also seems to favor ticks, causing a massive infestation that has yet to abate. Fortunately for human visitors to the island, the ticks have no interest in people.

A single moose, however, can host tens of thousands at a time, and each tick can suck up about a cubic centimeter of blood. Rather than browse, the moose scratch themselves against trees or bite their hair out trying to remove the parasites. Weight and blood loss often prove deadly.

Wolves are responding to the dwindling of their food supply as they have in the past: with internecine warfare.

Last year, Vucetich witnessed members of the island’s East Pack attack and kill the alpha male of the neighboring Chippewa Pack. This year, they got his widow, the alpha female.

“All we found were the skull and a radio collar,” said Rolf Peterson, a research professor of wildlife ecology at Michigan Tech. “It was nice they left the skull; foxes tow them around, and we might never have found anything.”

The pair that were killed were founders of the Chippewa Pack. Their lupine love affair began in 2000, when Peterson witnessed the female fleeing into the icy waters of Lake Superior to elude members of another pack intent on her demise. The attackers finally left her for dead on the shoreline; then a lone male roused her, licked her wounds and helped get her on her feet. In the years hence, the happy couple had raised seven litters of pups.

“That’s way above average in terms of progeny,” Peterson said. “She’s the number two all-time breeder in the study.”

“Amazingly, the Chippewa Pack has hung on; they are now under new leadership,” Vucetich said.

Hard times are cascading down to other carnivores. With a shortage of moose meat, wolves are consuming virtually every morsel. “Out of a 900-pound animal, all that remained was a couple of bones. Even the skull was eaten,” Vucetich said. “That’s a sign of tough times for wolves.”

Thus, almost nothing is left for smaller predators and scavengers. “Foxes are having a very hard time,” Peterson said. “Hares are at a cyclical low, and there’s very little left for the foxes to scavenge.”

Yet, in the midst of great privation, there are indications that a new pack may be forming. 

“A couple is showing territorial signs, scent marking, and has killed about three moose,” Vucetich said. “It doesn’t really count until they breed, but it’s kind of interesting that in the middle of all these hardships, they are setting out on their own.”

“Someone,” says Peterson, “is always trying to enlarge their footprint.”

The Isle Royale wolf-moose study is funded by the National Park Service, the National Science Foundation and Earthwatch.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/200...153004.htm

taipan Wrote:Virtually the same information on the same topic, just from a different source - 

Wolves, Moose in Decline on Michigan Island

And this about Mange affecting the Wolves of Yellowstone - 

"Mange, a debilitating disease imported to Montana a century ago to kill wolves, has returned to Yellowstone Park and the animals reintroduced there. Biologists identified the disease in a 9-year-old wolf earlier this winter, The Billings Gazette reported. The wolf, the alpha male in Mollie's Pack, has disappeared and biologists say he may have died. Mange is caused by a burrowing mite. It leaves wolves emaciated and debilitated, vulnerable to other diseases or to harsh conditions. While other infectious diseases that strike wolves kill those infected and move on, biologists describe mange as persistent. "Mange would be around in a messy kind of way every year," said Doug Smith, head of the Yellowstone Wolf Project. "This is an exotic, introduced disease we want to eradicate but it may be impractical to do so." In 1905, when wolves were considered a pest, wildlife officials in Montana began capturing wolves and coyotes, infecting them with mange and releasing them."

Seems the actions of the past, will affect the future AGAIN.

reddhole Wrote:The largest wolf officially recorded weighed 175 lbs. and was from east-central Alaska. A 172 lb. wolf from 1945 was recorded in 1945 from Jasper National Park.

Below, are some more recently reported large wolves from field studies from the last decade or so, which show wolves reaching up to 148 lbs. or about 15% less than the record 175 lb. specimen.

The one thing to consider when looking at wolf weights is the difference between average weights in general and average weight of a mature adult wolf. Wolves have very high natural mortiality rates, thus a large portion of the individuals making up the 'average" weight are younger and not full size animals. Exacerbating this is the fact that throughout most of Alaska and Canada wolves are heavily hunted/trapped, which creates an even greater proportion of younger and immature animals in the population.

Wolves Reach Full Size at about 4-5 Years Old

The following growth curve of Yellowstone wolves illustrates that the full size of adult wolves is not reached until 4 years old and is over 120 lbs. for males here:

[Image: GrowthCurveYNP005.jpg]

Recent Yellowstone Wolf Weights

Some weights of radio-collar animals in Yellowstone, which show several members in the 120 lb.-135 lb. range.

[Image: 2005YNP001.jpg]

[Image: 2005YNP002.jpg]


[Image: 2004YNP003Correction.jpg]

[Image: 2003YNP004.jpg]

The heaviest wolf I've seen in Yellowstone since they were reintroduced in 1995 was 141 lbs.

Weights of Wolves on the Alaskan-Yukon Territory Border

Some weights from the Alaska/Yukon border - note the huge variation. While there are lots of figures here, note that the largest wolf was 67 KG or about 148 lbs and wolves weighing 66 KG or 145 lbs. and 65 KG or 143 lbs.
 
[Image: AlaskaYukonWeights001Correction.jpg]
 
[Image: AlaskaYukonWeights002.jpg]
 
[Image: AlaskaYukonWeights003.jpg]
 
[Image: AlaskaYukonWeights004.jpg]

Wolf Weight in Latvia

Note the existance of a 67 KG or 148 lb. specimen.

[Image: WolfWeightinLativia001.jpg]

dasyurus Wrote:Another article featured on the Science Daily Website. This examines wolf dispersal rates, and why the 'Yellowstone Wolves' currently show a limited dispersal pattern.

Why Wolves Are Not Dispersing As Fast As Expected In Yellowstone
Science Daily — In 1995, 14 wolves were transferred to Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. from the Canadian Rocky Mountains, with 17 more joining them the following year. More than 1,000 healthy wolves have descended from the original 31, with about 150 of them still residing in the park boundaries.

However, wolves have been known to disperse at a rate of 100 km a year, but the Yellowstone wolves have only spread at one-tenth that rate. The slow dispersal rate had stumped researchers across North America until a team of mathematical biologists at the University of Alberta recently solved the puzzle. 

"When the wolves traveled far distances in their new environment it was easy for them to lose track of their mates, and the further they traveled the less likely it is for them to find a mate," said Dr. Mark Lewis, director of the U of A Centre for Mathematical Biology and a co-author of the study. 

"We've shown that a reduced probability of finding mates at low densities slows the predicted rate of recolonization," added Amy Hurford, a former U of A biological sciences master's student and co-author of the study. 

By the 1970s, wolves had been systematically hunted to extinction in the lower 48 states in order to protect livestock. But wolves were a keystone species in the area (i.e. they are predators and nobody preys upon them), and, after 30 years of extinction, researchers felt a reintroduction of the species would balance the burgeoning population of other animals in the area, such as elk and cougars. 

The wolves have been doing well in their new environment, and researchers had considered the wolves' slow dispersal to be more puzzling than problematic, which is good news, because Lewis believes the the slower-than-expected recolonization rate will continue. 

"As long as they are dispersing into unchartered territory, we expect the population to continue spreading at the slow rate--about 10 km per year," said Lewis, the Canada Research Chair in Mathematical Biology. 

The U of A researchers used radio tracking of wolves and computer simulation models to reach their conclusions. The research was published recently in the journal Theoretical Population Biology.

"Who would have thought that you could use mathematical equations to understand the behavior of wolves," Lewis said. "But that's what you can do in the field of mathematical biology. It's a newer field, but it's expanding rapidly."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/200...150724.htm
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
#4
reddhole Wrote:NP wolves in mortal combat


By Cory Hatch
March 17, 2007

Fighting among wolves over food and habitat in Yellowstone National Park caused increased “social strife” and was the leading cause of death for the animals in 2006, according to a report released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Wolves killing other wolves accounted for 44 percent of adult mortality for radio- collared animals in Yellowstone last year. Nine collared wolves died in 2006. Further, competition between packs likely accounted for the majority of pup deaths in Slough Creek and Hellroaring Creek packs, two of three wolf packs that failed to reproduce successfully.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released the information in the Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2006 Interagency Annual Report, a document detailing wolf packs in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.

Despite this increased competition, the number of wolves in Yellowstone increased 15 percent last year after disease caused a decline in 2005. In 2006, 136 wolves in 13 packs lived in Yellowstone. Eleven of those packs gave birth to about 60 pups.

But Fish and Wildlife Service officials say Yellowstone should support more animals. “Based on prey biomass available there should have been more wolves, but there were not, something else was limiting their numbers and we believe it to be wolf-wolf related mortality and dispersal,” states the report.

Biologists documented conflicts between the following packs: Agate Creek and Hellroaring, Agate Creek and Slough Creek, Slough Creek and Druid, Leopold and Oxbow Peak. The Leopold, Agate Creek, and Druid Peak packs are likely the dominant packs in Yellowstone while the others face a competitive disadvantage.

“These kingdoms are like early human tribes,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife wolf recovery coordinator Ed Bangs from his Montana office. “They have fixed boundaries but they take space from each other now and then. They have little wars with each other and they eliminate other packs. It’s a constant shuffle for space and prey.”

This type of territorial conflict is “a basic artifact of the type of social structure the wolves, chimpanzees, humans, and killer whales share,” said Bangs.

The cause of that shuffle is partly due to the elk population declining 50 percent, which created problems in the northern ranges of the park where wolf densities are highest. After the elk population reached about 19,000 elk in 1995, wildlife managers held hunts to lower the number of animals. According to Bangs, not only did the number of elk decrease, but the number of older, more vulnerable elk declined, causing wolves to spread out and seek other food sources.  

By contrast, wolf packs in the park’s interior see less conflict. “Packs in the park interior are much more stable and occur at lower density without the level of conflict observed on the northern range,” states the report. “Territories are large, with space in between them.”

Wolf populations are closely linked to the amount of available prey, said Bangs. Populations, therefore, don’t just continue to increase in one area, taking a larger and larger toll on the local prey. Instead, wolves continue to spread out over larger areas. “If those resources go down then the territory has to get bigger,” said Bangs. “It’s like Mafia families. Do they have the muscle to move in on the other packs? It looks like the Yellowstone population has peaked and will probably continue to go down until it reaches an equilibrium.”

http://www.jhguide.com/article.php?art_id=1551

reddhole Wrote:Below is an observation from a musk ox biologist of a single arctic wolf killing a bull musk ox. This appeared in the scientific journal, Arctic, and can be found on the web here:

http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic23-3-197.pdf

[Image: KillingMuskOx1X012.jpg]

[Image: KillingMuskOx2X013.jpg]

[Image: KillingMuskOx3X014.jpg]

[Image: SingleWolfKillsBullMuskOxPhoto001.jpg]

reddhole Wrote:
taipan Wrote:Reddhole, I remember reading an account (maybe by Mech) of two arctic wolves tackling a musk oxen. Its an impressive story I think it was three oxen on the two wolves who took some punishment but still brought one down (post it if you have it) . I also like the Biull Bison v wolf pack on the previous page of this thread.

Yes, one thing I like about canid hunts are the dramatic "battles" that sometimes happen. The case you mention below is from Ellesmore Island, in the high arctic. Supposedly this is the only area in the world where wolves have not been habituated (i.e. learned to fear) humans and researchers can get very close to them.

The account is below, and involved two wolves attacking an adult cow musk ox in poor condition (25% marrow fat), but also fighting some adult bulls too.


Killing of a Muskox, Ovibos moschatus, by Two Wolves,
Canis lupus, and Subsequent Caching


Encounters between wolves and muskoxen are rarely observed and seldom described in detail" (Gray 1987:127-128). The only complete description of Wolves (Canis lupus) killing an adult Muskox (Ovibos moschatus) involved a single Wolf (Gray 1970, 1987); in addition, there are two partial accounts of two Wolves killing an adult (Gray 1983), and descriptions of several Wolves killing calves (Mech 1988). Here we describe two Wolves killing an adult, and we provide new information about caching of the kill remains. 

The kill we observed took place on Ellesmere Island, Northwest Territories, Canada (80° N, 86°W) on 8 July 1998 when there is continuous daylight. The terrain is barren soil, gravel, rock outcrops and open tundra with no vegetation except widely scattered ground cover. The two Wolves involved were an adult male of unknown origin and a six-year-old female ("Explorer"), which the senior author had habituated to his close presence as a pup around a den in 1992 and studied in 1993 and 1994 (Mech 1995). In 1998, this animal lacked pups, as evidenced by her inconspicuous nipples and nomadic travels. 

During the present observations, we used 4-wheeled All Terrain Vehicles to accompany this pair as they traveled and hunted (Mech 1994). We allowed the male to lead, and we paralleled him at distances of 50-100 m, while Explorer remained within a few meters of us; we continually watched ahead for any prey. 

At about 0200 on 8 July 1998, the Wolves headed up some foothills along the side of a high escarpment and passed through a valley alongside the ridge. We spotted three Muskoxen about 500 m ahead in a valley at 0224 and immediately stopped and watched through 15X stabilized binoculars. The Wolves continued on toward the Muskoxen, and when about 100 m away, ran straight at them. The Muskoxen fled some 30 m and headed in a tight group up a steep slope, with the two largest animals (one a bull and the other presumably a bull) about half a body length ahead of the smallest, a cow. 

As the Muskoxen were running about a third of the way up the slope at 0226, the male Wolf grabbed the last one (a cow) by the rump and hung on, and the female lunged toward the head. The cow wheeled around, and the male lost his grip. Both Wolves focused their attacks on the head and neck of the Muskox, biting at her nose and neck, sometimes hanging on and sometimes losing grip. The Muskox kept pushing up with her lowered head and horns but did not use her hooves. After about 30 seconds of the focused attack, one Wolf gained a solid grip on the cow's nose and the other immediately attacked the side of her neck, repeatedly grabbing a new purchase. The cow appeared to struggle little once the wolves had gained solid grips on her. 

The two bulls had stopped about 15 m farther up the hill, and one of them suddenly charged down at the Wolves that were attacking the cow, sending one of the Wolves tumbling about 10 m down the hill. (We could not see whether contact was made, for the bull charged on the opposite side of the cow from us.) The bull hooked repeatedly at the remaining Wolf which eventually released its grip on the cow's nose. By now, the third Muskox had joined the other two, and they headed back up the hill with the cow tightly wedged between the 2 bulls. The Wolves quickly dashed back after the Muskox. Again one of the Wolves grabbed the rump of the cow, which wheeled to meet the wolf head on. The female then grabbed the cow by the nose, and the male by the side of the neck. The wolves kept their grips on the cow for about 30 seconds, and at 0231 the cow fell on a flat area of the hillside about 2/3 toward the top and stopped struggling. The Wolves continued to tear at her head and neck, but the Muskox did not move.
 

Explorer fed on the Muskox, but the male climbed to the top of the ridge, possibly still wary of us even though we remained about 0.5 km away, and at 0243 he lay down about 20 m above the carcass. Explorer fed on the kill until 0324. She then immediately headed downhill intently searching around as if to begin caching, and went out of sight. At 0340, she passed by us, and we began accompanying her. At 0345, when about 1.5 km from the kill, Explorer dug a hole, regurgitated into it, and covered it. About 50 m away she repeated the behavior. She continued on out of sight at 0349, but the terrain prevented us from following. 

At 0413, we saw Explorer about 0.8 km beyond the two caches, returning toward the kill, which she reached at 0441. She then slept near the carcass. Thus she was gone from the carcass for 77 minutes and had traveled at least as far as 2.3 km away from the carcass. From where and when we saw her disappear and reappear, we estimated that she had probably traveled as far as 5 km from the carcass, presumably continuing to cache throughout her trip. 

We dug up the two caches and found that their contents of well-chewed, walnut-sized chunks of muscle meat weighed 0.65 and 0.66 kg. A Wolf's stomach can hold 10 kg of meat (Mech unpublished), so if Explorer ate and cached maximally, she could have made about 16 caches of the size we found. Her time and behavior away from the carcass suggests that she did make many caches, but her sleeping and lack of feeding immediately after returning to the carcass suggests that she may have retained at least some of what she had eaten. 

We did not observe the Wolves from 0605 to 2150 on 8 July. From 2325 on 8 July to 0003 on 9 July, Explorer again fed on the carcass. Afterwards she alternately slept near the carcass and chased off an Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus). 

From 0251 to 0336, 9 July 1998, Explorer fed once more from the carcass. She then pulled off a front leg and shoulder and carried it off while zig-zagging and looking around as if searching for a place to cache it. She brought the leg to us, and paraded around us a bit. Her abdomen was noticeably distended. After a couple of minutes, she continued on another 600 m to a rocky stream wash and buried the leg in gravel at 0415; only the hoof and ankle were exposed. She continued on in the same direction as when on her previous caching trip, and we lost sight of her again. We did not see her until she arrived back at the carcass at 0541. Her sides were no longer bulging, so apparently she had continued to cache. When we returned to our lookout at 0445, the male was feeding and he continued to do so until 0537, alternately chasing the Fox. Explorer fed again from 0543 to 0559 and lay down about 30 m away from the carcass. We left at 0645. 

When we returned at 2130, the Wolves were gone. We then determined that the Muskox was a cow with well-worn teeth and an estimated 25% fat in her femur marrow. This poor condition may explain why the Wolves so readily attacked the cow and killed her so quickly, for often Wolf attacks on Muskoxen are far more prolonged (Gray 1970, 1983, 1987; Mech 1988 and unpublished). We each independently estimated that the amount eaten and cached from the carcass was about 90 kg, which was about all the readily available flesh. 

Most Wolf food consumption estimates (summarized by Mech 1970 and by Schmidt and Mech 1997) are made by calculating the weight of edible material taken from a carcass and dividing that by the number of Wolves and days. In this case, the estimate would have been about 22.5 kg/Wolf/day. However, after two of the four feedings we observed, the Wolf cached unknown amounts. If the amount cached were about equal to that digested, then the actual consumption rate would have been only about half the estimate. 

How often Wolves cache after killing large animals is unknown, but such caching is not uncommon (Murie 1944, Cowan 1947, Mech 1988, Mech et al. 1998). However, because most observations of Wolf predation are made from aircraft circling around a kill site for short periods, detailed observations such as we relate here are not usually made. Therefore, we suggest that previous food consumption estimates derived as described above may have to be qualified to account for possible caching that went undetected. In particular, conclusions derived from observations over intervals of a few days could be greatly inflated. We also suggest that future research emphasize attempting to determine how commonly Wolves cache after killing large animals, and under what circumstances. 

http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/mamma...intext.htm

reddhole Wrote:Wolves:  The Great Travelers of Evolution by Ron Nowak
 

Perhaps 4 or 5 million years ago, at about the same time the forerunners of humans took one fork in the evolutionary path and the ancestors of chimpanzees took another, the genus Canis (wolves, coyotes, jackals) was splitting off from the foxes.  The small, early members of this genus proved highly successful, and eventually spread throughout Eurasia, Africa and North America.  They are still there, represented by the Old World jackals and the New World coyotes.

Remarkably, most of the history of dogs has been played out by relatively small and generalized four-legged actors, who formed the central evolutionary core of the family.

Today, we admire wolves for their strength, beauty, intelligence and social complexity, but like all living members of the dog family, wolves possess physical characteristics that are generalized--moderate size, unremarkable shape, elongate snout and a high number of teeth.  Dogs lack the hunting specializations of cats who have incredible flexibility and retractable claws, the massiveness of bears, the sinuosity of weasels and civets and lack the fewer teeth of hyenas.

This is not to say that all canids or dogs have always been middle- of- the-road carnivores.   Earlier, some 20 million years ago, a group of giant "bear dogs" had developed that may have weighed in at 500 pounds. Later, came the borophagines, massive broad-faced animals resembling hyenas.  Even now, we have the Asian dhole and South American bush dog, whose short faces and reduced number of teeth remind us there are other
ways to build a canid.

But simplicity and economy of design apparently mattered.  And from somewhere among the vastly distributed stock of small Canis, the wolves of today must have arisen.  Two primary approaches for determining ancestry are fossil history and genetic relationships.  Sometimes these two methodologies disagree, as for example in human evolution, but in the case of wolves they basically support one another: wolves developed in North America from the coyote line.

At first, coyotes were still very small and delicately proportioned animals, and differed enough from coyotes of today (Canis latrans) to be called a separate species, Canis lepophagus.  The bulky borophagine dogs were still around, and there probably was no room for other big canids. But then the borophagines became extinct, and fossils show that certain populations of these early, little coyotes who lived in Texas began to develop larger size, relatively broader skulls, and more massive jaws and teeth.  By about a million years ago, a group of wolflike animals had spread at least from Florida to Oregon.  In size, proportion and character of teeth, they were practically identical to the red wolf (Canis rufus) of today.

Exactly how this transition occurred from little coyote to red wolflike creature, and what great barriers developed to allow the wolf and coyote lines to go their separate ways, we do not know.  From then on, however, we have a better idea of the evolution of the various kinds of wolves. The modern distribution of these different physical kinds, together with the study of fossils, reveals a history of intercontinental wanderings,
the rising and sinking of land bridges, and the spread and retreat of glaciers and deserts.

Probably during an early glacial epoch, when water had been taken up into the ice caps, causing sea levels to fall and allow the temporary merger of Siberia and Alaska, the small wolves of the New World crossed into the Old World and became widespread.  They are still there, or were until very recently.  All along the southern periphery of Eurasia--in Spain, Italy, Arabia, Egypt, India and even Japan--taxonomists noted populations of small canids that differ markedly in size and other characters from most of the more northerly gray wolves, but that are still too massive to be called jackals.  Like the background radiation of the Big Bang, the presence of these peripheral populations is a reminder of the worldwide wolf migration that took place nearly a million years ago.

The small wolves of the Old World have been divided into a number of races or subspecies, but only one has been well studied.  That one  is Canis lupus pallipes, a small, often light-colored wolf still found from parts of Turkey and Israel, through southern Iran, to much of India. Analysis of skulls, which compares size and proportions, shows pallipes to be closely related to Canis rufus or the red wolf of North America. This Old World wolf has, however, developed sufficiently in the direction of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) to be considered a subspecies of the gray.  It is a living demonstration of where and how that transition from red to gray wolf took place.

The full development of the gray wolf apparently occurred farther north in Eurasia, perhaps in response to a cooling climate about 300,000 years ago and a separation from pallipes by desert barriers.  The gray wolf grew larger, became the formidable predator we know today and spread throughout Europe and northern Asia.  At some point, it invaded North America, which then still would have been occupied by the small progenitor of the wolf line.  So the situation was like a tough, overgrown son returning to muscle in on his aging, bantam father.  And it looked like an easy match. But there was another son.

While the gray wolf was developing in Eurasia, a certain New World population, designated Canis armbrusteri, also began to grow larger. Fairly complete fossil remains have been found only in Maryland and Florida, and the species eventually disappeared.  What was this animal like?  Where did it go?

Our best guess is that it spread to South America, became isolated there, and developed into the great dire wolf(Canis dirus).  In form and structure, armbrusteri stands between the red wolf and the dire wolf. Since the dire wolf appeared rather suddenly in North America, already fully evolved, it most likely was an invader from elsewhere.  There is no hint of dirus ever having been in Eurasia, so this animal apparently did not trek across the landbridge that appeared and disappeared several times in what is now the Bering Sea.   However, dire wolflike remains have been found in South America as far as the pampas of Argentina.  The dire wolf likely headed north, for its earliest known occurrence in North America was in Mexico, and then about 100,000 years ago it appeared in abundance from coast to coast.

Some populations of dire wolves contained the largest members of the dog family ever to exist; others were no bigger than large gray wolves, though they had relatively huge heads with tremendous teeth.  While sometimes pictured in popular accounts as a cumbersome, even stupid animal, the dire wolf was a highly evolved species, well adapted for life among the saber-toothed tigers, lions, giant sloths, mammoths, horses, camels and other large animals that occupied North America at the time.  It would still be here, had not much of its prey been exterminated by the advanced human hunters that penetrated the continent following the withdrawal of the last Pleistocene glaciations, about 10,000 years ago.

The presence of the dire wolf did not stop the gray wolf from entering North America--in fact lupus probably arrived first--but where the two occurred together, there was a tendency for the gray wolf to become smaller, which helped to avoid ecological competition.  The smallest North American gray wolf skull on record was found in a cave in northeastern Mexico, amidst a number of huge dire wolf skulls.  Also, at California's Rancho La Brea Tar Pits, renowned for their hundreds of dire wolf skeletons, there are a few skulls of a small gray wolf.

Rancho La Brea has yielded a very few specimens of another kind of gray wolf, massive and broad-skulled with big teeth.  Some early taxonomists thought this animal was a form of the dire wolf,  but it actually seems to be a close relative of gray wolves living today on the arctic islands of Canada and in northern Siberia.  Possibly a population of such animals was driven southward by the spread of ice sheets down the Sierras about 100,000 years ago, and was able to occupy California after the dire wolves had retreated back to Mexico.

The presence of two rather distinctive kinds of gray wolf at Rancho La Brea is one indication that there were actually several invasions of North America by the species, separated by periods of relatively warm weather when sea levels were high and the land bridge submerged.  We now know that there were many advances  and retreats of the ice caps, not just four as once thought.

 The gray wolves of North America seem to be more differentiated than those of Eurasia.  Some authorities still recognize as many as 24 subspecies of Canis lupus in the New World, but only 12 or fewer in the Old World.  There is a growing consensus that just a few of these named races are valid. However, it is true that distinctive North American gray wolves are found at the periphery of the range of the species, farthest from the Eurasian land mass, and thus are probably remnants of the earliest migrations.  These subspecies are the small baileyi of Mexico and lycaon of southeastern Canada, and the larger arctos of the arctic islands.

Historically--in most of the western conterminous United States, along the Pacific coast as far as the southeast Alaskan panhandle, in the western Great Lakes region, in northeastern Canada and around Hudson Bay- -there lived populations of medium-sized gray wolves that generally resemble one another and also resemble the gray wolves of most of Europe and northern Eurasia.  All of these seemingly closely related populations are evidently the result of an intercontinental migration of the gray wolf after it had evolved its characteristic features.

Another phase in the evolution of the gray wolf was still to come.  In North America, the wolves of most of Alaska and western Canada closely resemble each other.  They probably are all a single subspecies, whose members are the largest of the modern gray wolves.  We know that when glaciers covered most of North America, Alaska was largely ice-free and served as a refuge for many kinds of animals.  Evidently it was there that the subspecies of huge gray wolves developed.  When the ice pulled back, the last time being about 10,000 years ago, this race overran the northwestern quarter of the continent.  It penetrated as far as Montana, though it never did take over the Alaskan panhandle, which was protected by a line of remnant glaciers and mountains, or the tundra west of Hudson Bay, where the only substantive prey would have been the small barren ground caribou.  Closely related large wolves pushed across Siberia to the Urals and down the Pacific coast to Sakhalin and Hokkaido Islands.

It is tempting to romanticize that, as the largest of the gray wolves drove southward, it met the dire wolf, and that packs of the two giants fought for mastery of North America.  But because of their differing climatic adaptations, it is unlikely that the two ever saw one another. Moreover, a much deadlier predator probably already had eliminated the dire wolf and soon would be cutting down the gray and the red.  The terminal phase of wolf evolution was perhaps at hand. 


Ron Nowak, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has been involved with red
wolf conservation and taxonomy for 30 years; his Ph.D. is on taxonomy of
Canis.

http://wolfhybrid.us/html/art5.html

reddhole Wrote:The following photo and accompanying caption is from Candace Savage's book "Wolves."

[Image: SingleWolfAttackingMoose-CandaceSav.jpg]

[Image: SingleWolfAttackingMooseCaption-Can.jpg]

taipan Wrote:An example of wolves regulating the populations of other species - ('trophic cascades’)

Wolf density aids pronghorn fawn survival
Saturday 24 March 2007

 Pronghorn survival may be closely related to wolf population density, according to Wildlife Conservation Society Research Ecologist Kim Murray Berger, but not in the way you might think. Last week, Berger presented results from a critical study, “Conservation Implications of Food Webs Involving Wolves, Coyotes and Pronghorn,” part of her Ph.D. research at Utah State University, at the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance’s Info Lunch series. Carnivore reintroduction is controversial because of the possible effects carnivores can have on human, pet and livestock safety. But Berger was more interested in looking at the effects carnivores have on other carnivores and the impact this may have on the larger food web. “The idea that restoring top predators can influence species at lower trophic levels [i.e., positions on the food chain] is called ‘trophic cascades’ and it’s an active area of research,” Berger explained.

Her study shows why overall pronghorn populations in Grand Teton National Park have dropped by about 50 percent since the early ’90s, while coyote populations – the chief predators of pronghorn fawns in this region – have been on the rise over the past 200 years. 

“Coyotes used to be concentrated in the midwestern and western regions of the United States,” she said. “Now we pretty much see them from Maine to Florida, Alaska to Canada, and down into Mexico.” This population boom and diaspora can largely be attributed to the elimination of wolves from most of the continent and adaptation to new habitats, she said. 

Since the reintroduction of wolves to Wyoming in the mid ’90s, coyotes are more likely to be killed (but not eaten) by wolves because wolves see coyotes as potential competitors for food. 

Berger selected three areas in northwestern Wyoming to study, two of which were inside Grand Teton National Park. One area had a high wolf density, one had a low wolf density, and one did not have a wolf population. Using radio collaring and ground and aerial telemetry, Berger observed coyote mortality in these areas and determined that 83 percent of coyote mortality was due to wolf depredation. 

Berger found that wolves were largely responsible for transient coyote mortality (i.e. coyotes that roam between territories), and that coyote density was 30 percent lower in areas used by wolves. Berger then began to examine pronghorn fawn survival rates in those same areas and discovered that the pronghorn fawn survival rate is five times higher in areas used by wolves. 

Berger will be submitting her findings to journals in the coming weeks, which will summarize “how wolves are impacting coyotes, how interactions among wolves, coyotes and pronghorn are impacting pronghorn survival, and how changes in fawn survival rates will likely impact the overall pronghorn population in Grand Teton National Park,” she states. 

http://www.planetjh.com/environment/A_100267.aspx
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
#5
reddhole Wrote:Below is an analysis of a very interesting book called "Wolves, Bison and the Dynamics Related to the Peace-Athabasca Delta in Canada's Wood Buffalo National Park" by Lu Carbyn. The book is a collection of scientific studies that attempt to explain a steep decline in the bison population in Wood Buffalo National Park. Carbyn concludes that the primary factor for the decline is wolf predation. Wolf predation on calves (who will in the future replace breeding adults who die) is the bigger reason, but heavy predation on breeding adults is also a factor. Of course, other factors come into play, such as the bison population previously being unnaturally high (due to heavy wolf-control operations, bison vaccination programs, etc.), disease and an ecologically-disastorous dam project that reduced foraging habitat.
 
However, the interesting part of this extensive study is the detailed information on wolf-bison predation. In the study area, bison is by far the most numerous large ungulate. Some moose live in the area, but not many. 

Overall Predation - Bison is a Significant Prey Item
 
[Image: OverallPredationData001.jpg]
 
The key figures are the frequency of prey data and percent biomass consumed figures.  Of these, biomass is more important IMHO as this reflects what's sustaining the animals. The "Adjusted" Summer figures should be used as it more accurate reflects summer predation.
 
Summer Predation - Bison Calves Predominate With Some Adults Killed Also
 
Summer predation is focused mostly on calves because:
 
1) They are smaller and easier to kill.
2) Wolves are restricted to small areas around their den sites as this is the season pups are young.
3) Growing pups need a steady supply of moderate amounts of meat. However, each wolf only gets about 1/3 of the food it gets during winter as a result.
 
Bison calves are no pushovers, by autumn they weigh 330 lbs. and by winter they weigh 440 lbs.!
 
In a subsequent study by Carbyn below, 25 calves were killed in the summer and 2 adult cows were killed.
 
[link=www.bisoncentre.com/producer/resources/bce370/bce370_trends_distribution.shtml newwindow]www.bisoncentre.com/producer/resources/bce370/bce370_trends_distribution.shtml[/link]

These two adult cow bison kills were captured in Nature's "Wolves and Buffalo", one is shown in the video clips below:
 
http://youtube.com/watch?v=s16WkzhDCxs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4ZvOpVjHM0

Another example of wildlife film alteration of facts is that this event occurred in May, but the documentary portrayed it as occurring in Autumn to "better fit the storyline" according to Carbyn in his latest book.
 
Winter Predation - Adult Bison of Both Sexes and All Ages and Calves Predominate

The more interesting predation is from winter. First, the issue of snow-depth must be considered. Bison are affected by deep snow as it restricts feeding and makes running harder. Researchers consider this depth to be 55 cm for calves and 65 cm for adults. Most of the predation data that will follow is from 1977-1981, and the following graph shows snow levels never reached levels that significantly hampered adult bison (and rarely calves) during this period.
 
[Image: SnowDepthData001.jpg]
  
Below is a summary of wolf predation by age class vs the age class in the overall bison population from 1971-1981 (includes some more serious snow-years)
 
[Image: WinterPredationAgeSelectivityData00.jpg]
 
As you can tell while wolves "preferred" certain age classes, all age classes were killed.
 
The figure below shows the same data from 1977-1981 alone (snow a non-factor for adults) and its pretty similar (yearlings are included in the calves figure):
 
[Image: WinterPredationAgeSelectivityData2C.jpg]
 
Below is probobly the most important figure. It shows predation by age and sex and also gives the marrow-fat levels. Marrow fat indicates what the nutritional condition of the animal is. A figure around 25% usually means the animal is on the verge of starvation, while being under 70% is an animal in subpar shape.
 
[Image: MarrowFatAgeSexPredationData001.jpg]
 
The number of adult cows and bulls killed were roughly equal to their proportions in the population. Also, the animals killed were in relatively good nutritional condition. For example, the average marrow fat of the 25 adult bulls killed was 67% and the median marrow fat was 80% - which means about 12.5 bulls had marrow fat below 80% and 12.5 had marrow fat above 80%. This all occurred when snow depths were a non-factor.

Hunting Success - Initially Low, But Increases With Persistant Attacks
 
The figure below is a summary of attacks observed from airplanes. Of 13 bison attacks, 3 resulted in kills or 23% of the attacks. This compares to 6 out of 7 attacks (where contact was made) on moose on Isle Royale resulting in kills or 85% success rate - bison are harder to kill!
 
[Image: AttackDatafromAerialObservations001.jpg]
 
Similarly, data also including track observations is included below, and shows the attack success at 33%:
 
[Image: AttackDatafromAllSources001Correcti.jpg]
 
However, wolves would stay with bison longer, attacking the animals multiple times, which ramped up their success. As you can tell from the figure below, spending 2 days with a bull or 3-4 days with a herd. attacking on and off, resulted in 100% success rates. Also, this indicates solitary bulls were more easily killed than animals in herds:
 
[Image: MultipleDayAttackData001.jpg]

However, it still seems that wolves preferred to attack herds with calves, and that they would search for them more strongly. Though by the winter, wolves have killed many of them so they are not very numerous, and they also need to kill adults as well as shown by some of the previous figures.
 
Attack Points on Bison Are at the Rear


The table below shows that wolves focused their attacks, especially initially, on the rear of the bison. Note with smaller prey, such as caribou and deer, they are attacked in the front.
 
[Image: Attacklocations001.jpg]

Single Wolf Predation on Adult Bison - It Just Might Happen on Rare Occasions

The excerpts below discusses single wolf predation on adult bison. Carbyn certainly believes its possible - the bull musk-ox study referenced is the one I posted earlier in this thread.
 
While the two possible cases of predation could have been scavenging events, it seems that he leans towards predation (scavenging is "conceivable" as opposed to proboble) in these two cases. Still with this kind of feat, I would expect some to require more solid proof.

 
[Image: SingleWolfPredationonAdultBison001.jpg]
 
[Image: SingleWolfPredationonAdultBison002.jpg]

In Carbyn' latest book, more of a biography/memoir rather than a scientific piece, he says single wolves were not highly proficient buffalo hunters. He says the ones here mostly hunt small game, scavenge, but also test/attack bison, especially small adult bull groups. However, as you'd expect, single wolves were less likely than packs to test or attack bison that were encountered. He also mentions the above account by the trapper as a kill (no mention of a scavenging event). 

One would have to reason that if single wolves regularly tested/attacked adult bison, they must at least on a rare occasion succeed in killing them as you would wonder why they'd bother wasting energy on them. Certainly, I'd expect these bison to be more vulnerable, perhaps in very poor condition. Still, even a crippled bison could be lethal. In Carbyn's latest book, he recounts a story of a hunter/trapper who shot a bull bison, but was gored to death when he followed him in thick cover. Similarly, Carbyn noted the most aggressive bison he personally encountered was one who was crippled. Thus, IMHO, if a wolf (or any animal) can kill an adult bison in poor condition, its a remarkable achievement! 

As I've always said, there is a great increase in the efficiency of wolves (and dogs) when they go from 1 to 2 animals. With bison, (bulls averaging 1,870 lbs., and reaching 2,200 lbs. here) - the wolf's largest and most formidable prey - there is no doubt that this is especially true. Of all of the wolf's prey, bison would seem to be the one prey where larger packs could be beneficial. 

Descriptions and Photos of Attacks on Bison

Below is a detailed description of a pack's kill of an adult cow:
 
[Image: CowAttackDescription001.jpg]
 
[Image: CowAttackDescription002.jpg]
 
Below is a detailed description of a pack's kill of an adult bull:
 
[Image: BullAttackDescription001.jpg]
 
Photos of an attack on an adult cow:
 
[Image: CowAttack001.jpg]
 
More photos of an attack on an adult cow:
 
[Image: CowAttack002.jpg]

taipan Wrote:Wolf Population Grows in Three States
Saturday 24 March 2007

The number of wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming continues to grow, with at least 1,300 in the three states at the end of 2006, federal officials say. "I keep thinking we're at the top end of the bubble," said Ed Bangs, wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "I can't see that there's room for any more, but we'll see." The wolf population has, on average, grown by about 26 percent a year for the past decade. The reports of livestock being killed by wolves have also increased, as has the number of wolves killed after livestock attacks. There are at least 316 wolves in Montana, 311 in Wyoming and 673 in Idaho, according to the 2006 federal report. Bangs said the wolf population will eventually level off, and will likely decrease once state agencies take over management of the predators and are able to control the population through hunting.

The fastest-growing area for wolves last year was in Wyoming outside Yellowstone National Park, where the number of wolves jumped 31 percent, from 134 in 2005 to 175 in 2006. With that increase, 123 cows were reportedly killed by wolves, more than has ever been recorded in Wyoming since the reintroduction. In response, a record 44 wolves were killed. 

In Montana, the number of wolves grew by 19 percent, nearly all of that in the northwestern part of the state, said Carolyn Sime, leader of the wolf program for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Montana reported 14 new wolf packs last year, including several established by young males that left other packs in the state. Two packs took heavy hits after preying on livestock. Fifteen wolves were killed from the Sleeping Child pack in southwest Montana, and 11 were removed from the Spotted Dog pack near Avon. 

Overall, at least 32 cows and four sheep were killed by wolves, according to the annual report, and 53 wolves were removed. Human activities, both legal and illegal, are the leading cause of death for wolves in Montana. In Yellowstone, the wolf population grew by about 15 percent last year from 118 to 136. That growth comes after a decline in 2005 attributed to a canine disease that wiped out scores of pups. Yellowstone wolves killed in 2006 were most likely killed by other wolves. Social strife, especially on the densely populated Northern Range, and competition for prey meant more territorial skirmishes that can be deadly. 

The number of elk, which are wolves' primary winter prey, has declined 50 percent in the area since 1995. A decreasing prey base and increasing wolf density is likely to mean a decline in wolf numbers over the next several years, biologists said. The Fish and Wildlife Service said the wolf population has, for seven years, met basic recovery goals of 30 breeding pairs distributed across the three states and the agency has recommended removing wolves from protection under the Endangered Species Act. 

However, the federal government and the state of Wyoming haven't reached an agreement on a management plan. The latest proposal is to delist wolves in Montana, Idaho and all of Wyoming except for the northwest corner, where they would still be managed by the federal government. 

http://www.enn.com/today.html?id=12427 

Also the Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2006 Interagency Annual Report can be downloaded from here
http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/spec.../index.htm

reddhole Wrote:The study below is one of the few detailing predation and food habits of lone wolves. It took place on Isle Royale where wolves are pretty small (about 60-90 lbs.). Some scientists actually consider these to be red wolves, while others believe they are red-grey wolf hybrids and others see them as grey wolves.

Reference: Thurber, J. M., and R. O. Peterson. 1993. Effects of population density and pack size on the foraging ecology of gray wolves. Journal of Mammalogy 74:879-889.

As you can see, lone wolves "fairly regularly" killed moose, including adults, and their food habits were a bit more variable than pack wolves (i.e. preyed a bit more on beavers). 

Summary

[Image: ThurberpetersonSummary001.jpg]

Lone Wolf Predation - Adult and Calf Moose Killed by Male and Female Wolves

As you can see below, 5 lone wolves killed 8 adult moose and several calves, which weigh several hundred pounds by this time of year, over 2 winters. It should be noted that each wolf was not alone for the entire 3 winter period, thus the actual frequency of kills would be higher than "5 wolves killing 8 moose over 2 winters."

[Image: IsleRoyaleLoneWolfPredation1038.jpg]

[Image: LoneWolfPredation002.jpg]

As such, the authors believe that wolves must live in packs for reasons other than killing large prey:

[Image: fe54c7df.jpg]

Finally, the authors conclude that lone wolves (which are mostly young dispersers) must be reasonably capable hunters of moose to sustain themselves until they can find a mate:

[Image: LoneWolfPredationonMooseConclusion0.jpg]

reddhole Wrote:
taipan Wrote:Swedish Wolves (Vargs)

The fabled lone moose killers.

[Image: Varg_350px_T_Lilja.jpg]

Moose hunting - 

Wolf winter predation on moose and roe deer in relation to pack size
Camilla Wikenros 2001


Abstract: Wolf (Canis lupus) winter predation on moose (Alces alces) and roe deer(Capreolus capreolus) were studied in the small, but fast growing wolf population on the Scandinavian Peninsula. Wolves in one territory were radio- and snow-tracked during two successive winters. The wolf pack consisted of an adult pair during the first winter (1999–2000), and of an adult male and three pups the following winter. Kill rate on moose was 7.4–9.2 days/kill for the adult pair and 4.0–4.8 days/kill for the pack of four wolves. The consumed proportion of wolf-killed moose at first feeding occasion was relatively low during both winters (44% and 51%) but wolves utilized carcasses by revisits at previous kill sites. Wolves did not select to kill malnourished moose as nutritional condition of wolf-killed moose was comparable to moose harvested by hunters. Handling time at first feeding occasion did not differ with increased pack size, but were longer for the pups as compared to the adult male. The adult male and pups were solitary in 61–68% of all locations during the second year of study while the adult pair was solitary in 13% during the first year of study. Hunting success of the adult male on moose (60%) and roe deer (100%) during the second year of study was higher as compared to the first year (21% and 55%). Chasing distances during successful attacks by wolves on roe deer were longer thanon moose."

Other interesting findings - 

"Of the 21 wolf-killed moose, 4 were killed by the adult male alone, and 14 by the adult male in company with one or two pups. For the remaining three moose, the numbers of wolves involved in the killings were unknown."

"Hunting success in the Grangärde territory in winter of 2000–2001 was 60% on moose and 100% on roe deer. This was higher than reported from Alaska (26% on moose, Mech et al. 1998) and Canada (46% on white-tailed deer, Kolenosky 1972). The higher hunting success rate in the Grangärde territory could result from prey being more inexperienced to predators (Berger et al. 2001) but more data need to be gathered from other wolf packs."

"During both winters, wolves killed more calves than adults, and all adults were ! 7 years old. That wolves prey primarily on young-of-the-year and animals in older age-classes, are in accordance with other studies where moose are the primary prey (Pimlott 1967, Hayes et al. 1991, Mech et al. 1995, Olsson et al. 1997, Mech et al. 1998, Hayes et al. 2000). Fuller and Keith (1980) explained this by the fact that young and old moose most likely are easier to kill than animals in their prime age. Moreover, all wolf-killed adult moose during the study were females. A female biased predation on adult moose is in accordance with Olsson et al. (1997) who reported that wolves killed no males older than two years old, during a study in south-central Sweden. Adult female moose is probably easier to kill for wolves than adult male moose due to their smaller size."

http://www.de5stora.com/illustrationer/f...132025.pdf

Some added details and analysis of the above study:

Summary: This study shows that single/small groups of wolves can kill adult female moose in relatively good condition without the advantage of deep snow. It also shows that their success rates can be higher than many expect and that chases are usually not that long.

Introduction:Wolves began repopulating this area of Sweden recently and a wolf pack called the Grangarde pack was studied in the winters of 1999-2000 and 2000-2001. The pack in the winter of 1999-2000 consisted of an adult female and a yearling male. In the winter of 2000-2001, the female died or left the area and the pack consisted of a 2 year old male and 3 puppies.

Below are the study's descriptions of this:

[Image: SwedenWolfStudy001.jpg]
 
[Image: SwedenWolfStudy002.jpg]

Below are the sizes of moose in this area:

[Image: SwedenWolfStudy003.jpg]

As you can see, even moose calves are large at this time of the year (155 KG or 341 lbs.) as are moose yearlings (291 KG or 640 lbs.) and adult female moose (314 KG or 691 lbs.)

Predation Results

Below is a summary of this:

[Image: SwedenWolfStudy004.jpg]

As one would expect, wolves killed more calves - 23 out of 32 moose killed. However, the adult moose killed by wolves were in relatively good nutritional condition as evidenced by their median marrow fat levels being 82%. 

Generally, animals with marrow fat levels below 70% are considered subpar and animals with marrow fat levels under 10% are on the verge of starving to death (though some starve to death with higher marrow fat levels occasionally). For comparative purposes, reindeer killed by Eurasian lynx in one study had marrow fat levels of 25% and caribou and moose killed by wolverines in two studies had marrow fat levels of 5%-8%.

Also, the adult moose killed by wolves had a higher marrow level than moose killed by hunters (82% vs. 76%) in the previous autumn. The moose killed by hunters are considered to be killed at random and represent the average moose. Thus, the authors concluded that wolves were not selecting for malnourished moose.

Of course, there could have been something else wrong with these moose, but in cold climates malnourishment is the major factor that weakens ungulates.

Below are details of this predation by the pack in 1999-2000 (adult female and male yearling) and 2000-2001 (2 year old male and 3 puppies). The first 21 moose were killed by the 2 year old male in 2000-2001 and the next set of moose killed with footnote "a" were done by adult female and/or yearling male in 1999-2000. The rest of the dead moose were killed by hunters or died from natural causes.

[Image: SwedenWolfStudy005.jpg]

All 5 of the moose over 1 year old killed were females, while half of the four one year old moose were males. While the moose were somewhat old, they were not that old as moose can live to 20 years old or more. It should be noted that in this area, there is a very high moose density and few wolves, thus wolves have lots of different prey targets. As a result, many calves and females are killed instead of males. In other studies from North America where the moose-wolf density isn't so skewed, adult males are taken at similar levels as adult females and adults are taken more frequently.

In 2000-2001, the 2 year old male killed 3 adult female moose (one 12 years old and two 16 year olds) with relatively high marrow fat levels (72%-87%). He also killed four one year old moose (averaging 640 lbs.) with relatively high marrow fat levels (47%-89%).

In 1999-2000, the adult female and/or the yearling male killed two 7 year old female moose with relatively high marrow fat levels (50%-91%).

Below is the author's conclusion that these wolves did not select moose in poor nutrititional condition:
 
[Image: SwedenWolfStudy006.jpg]

Below is the author's conclusion about single wolf predation and the single male's role in such predation:
 
[Image: SwedenWolfStudy007.jpg]

Note that the single male pariticipated in all ungulate killings and that the puppies didn't make a kill without him until March 2001 (the end of the study), and that was on a roe deer (about 50 lbs.). This is consistant with the other point that yearlings that hunt are usually unsuccessful. Thus, since the single male wolf was only accompanied by puppies, he probobly made these kills with little to no help from them.

Chase Distances and Hunting Success

Below is a summary of this:
 
[Image: SwedenWolfStudy008.jpg]

As you can see, most chases were very short. The median successful chase distance for moose was 30 meters and 65 meters for the two years and the maximum distance was 900 meters. 

The figure above doesn't list all of the hunts. The success rates from elsewhere in the paper are given as follows:

1999-2000 (adult female and/or yearling male): 21% success rate - 13 out of 61 hunts of moose were successful.

2000-2001 (2 year old male): 60% success rate - 21 out of 35 hunts were successful.
 
Why the Higher Success Ratio - Was it Because of Snow?
 
[Image: SwedenWolfStudy009.jpg]

As you can see snow depth was not a significant factor. The author believes hunting success was increased because the yearling male was inexperienced in the first year, and gained much more experience (and likely strength as well) in the second year. This more than offset the loss of his adult female hunting companion. It should be noted that a 2 year old male is still not fully grown and mature.

The authors also note that the high hunting success may also be due to their measurement methods as well as moose having less experience with wolves in this area. Specifically, wolves are relatively new to the area and moose have been heavily hunted with bay dogs, which encourages them to flee from dogs/wolves. Moose that traditionally stayed and fought bay dogs were the ones to be shot. Thus, moose tend to flee from wolves more frequently, which makes it easier for wolves to kill moose.

reddhole Wrote:Some interesting data on wolf predation during summer. Most predation studies are done in winter (when its easier to track predator and prey in snow).

"Yellowstone National Park reports that their summer predation study utilizing GPS collars and searching for clusters of wolf activity is going well, in past summers GPS collar failure was a major problem. The tentative results are interesting. Wolves are mainly killing bulls in summer. Few cows and few calves were killed, similar to the results gathered from the elk calf mortality study. While the field crews are more likely to miss calves than other types of prey [they are small and consumed quickly] but the kills discovered so far are mostly bull elk."

http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/spec...132007.htm
reddhole Wrote:Gray Agate Creek wolf 524F lost her life on July 4 near the bison carcass in Little America. Telemetry picked up her collar’s mortality signal, and researchers determined that she appeared to have been killed by other wolves, most likely Sloughs. She had ventured alone into Slough territory, and, perhaps driven by hunger, she took a fatal risk by going to another pack’s kill.

You may remember that 524F was one of the few survivors of the disease epidemic which killed so many pups in 2005. When she was collared at the age of eight months, her blood sample showed that she had antibodies to canine distemper. Her teeth were in terrible condition and looked like the worst old dog teeth that had never been cleaned. They were dark brownish black, and some were crossed or missing.

Nevertheless, 524F grew up to be an interesting and useful Agate pack member. She was once observed leaping at the throat to bring down a cow elk. I have a special memory of watching her and black Agate 525F circle around a newborn bison calf for two hours as it stood facing backwards under its mother’s belly for protection. The wolves lunged in and the cow kicked out until other bison finally came over to chase the wolves away. Every time I drive by that spot in Little America, I think about that calf (which we think survived) and what a story it could tell!

Agate 524F will be remembered as a wolf who beat the odds to survive and had to deal with great hardship in her two years of life. Perhaps it is a blessing that the end came swiftly rather than a lingering death due to starvation. When she died, she weighed less than 70 pounds and was missing many teeth. It does make you wonder about the condition of the other wolves who survived the epidemic, including her littermate, the former Agate who is now the new Slough alpha male.

http://wolves.wordpress.com/2007/07/22/k...en-wolves/

reddhole Wrote:Below is an analysis of a study from Scandinavia that explains what factors influence hunting success in this area.

The study’s reference is as follows:

“Effects of Hunting Group Size, Snow Depth, and Age on the Success of Wolves Hunting Moose”, Animal Behavior, 2006, 72, P 781-789

Summary:

This study shows that the alpha male is the primary animal that does the killing of large prey in wolf packs. The study examined what factors determine the hunting success of wolves and concluded only the age of the adult alpha male was important.  Here is the study’s summary:

[Image: WolfSummaryofHuntingSuccess001.jpg]


Some key points:

1) Hunting success rates of wolves were high – 45%-64%, this confirms the high success rates from the other study in this area I posted.

2) Hunting success was only influenced by the presence of mature adult male wolves.

3) Maximum hunting success occurred when the male wolf reached 4.5 -5.5 years or older.

4) In a pack where a female lost her mate and was the only mature adult, the pack switched from hunting moose to hunting roe deer. In a pack where a male lost his mate and was the only mature adult, the pack continued to hunt moose. This shows that the presence of the adult male wolf is the key factor when it comes to hunting moose.

How much of a difference is there between a 1.5 year old male wolf and a mature adult male wolf?

[Image: WolfSummaryofHuntingSuccess002.jpg]

As you can see, a 1.5 year-old male wolf (which are sometimes called “adults”) only had a 4% hunting success rate vs. 72% for a 5.5 year old male.

What about Pack Size – Isn’t that How Wolves Kill Prey and Influence Their Hunting Success Rate?

[Image: WolfSummaryofHuntingSuccess003.jpg]


As you can see pack size increases the hunting success for African wild dogs, spotted hyenas and lions, but not wolves in Scandanavia.

Why is this so? Aren’t more wolves better?


[Image: WolfSummaryofHuntingSuccess004.jpg]


As you can see the packs here are mostly composed an adult pair and their maturing offspring who contribute little to nothing when hunting. African wild dogs, spotted hyenas, and lions hunt with numerous adults when in groups.

But, Wolves Require Deep Snow to Get an Advantage Over Large Prey?

[Image: WolfSummaryofHuntingSuccess005.jpg]


As you can see, snow depth was not a factor.

Is the maturity of the alpha male really that important in packs?

[Image: WolfSummaryofHuntingSuccess006.jpg]

[Image: WolfSummaryofHuntingSuccess007.jpg]

As you can see, only the age of the male, and not the female, influenced the success in hunting moose. Experience and strength gained from becoming fully-grown made the mature male wolves more successful.

Does Sexual Dimorphism Impact Wolf Predation?

[Image: WolfSummaryofHuntingSuccess008.jpg]

Apparently so, as shown by a solo female wolf hunting roe deer and a solo male wolf killing adult moose. This seems comparable to lionesses focusing on wildebeest while male lions focus on buffalo.

reddhole Wrote:Below is an account of a wolf pack with less adults winning a fight against a pack with more adults. Doug Smith, the lead biologist of the Yellowstone Wolf Project, attributes this to the "immense ferocity" of the alpha male from the smaller pack.


This winter there was a big fight between Mollies Pack and the Druids. Mollies was probably was looking for country with more elk and fewer grizzly bears to defend their kills from. On paper, it would seem like Mollies would take the Druids. Mollies had 5 big adult wolves and five pups. The Druid adults were only the now-long time alpha male, 380M (once known as “the new black), the new alpha female 569F, and 302M who has never been a fighter. The Druids have 7 pups still with them.

The Druids won, however, sending Mollies back to the Pelican Valley. Doug Smith told me the difference was probably due to the immense ferocity of the Druid alpha male 380M, who rallied the troops so to speak. He had been in wolf fights below, including some of the Mollies that are now dead. It isn’t clear the Mollies had fought another wolf pack despite their reputation for killing bison and battling grizzly bears.

Smith said the Hayden Pack of 4 very light colored wolves is “a pack on the run.” The have been forced out of the Hayden Valley by Mollies on one side and the Gibbon Pack on the other. The Hayden pack has been on the northern range. He said they are currently in Leopold Pack territory, a big pack against which they would have little chance.

http://wolves.wordpress.com/2007/04/18/y.../#comments
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
#6
oldesox Wrote:World Largest Wolves
   All sources seem to indicate that the world's largest officially verified wild wolf was taken in in 1939 in north America, and weighed an impressive 175lb. 
all sources, except one, that is.

I contact the Russian hunting website (www.Russianhunting.com) ands spoke to its moderator, Sergei Shushunov, about its claims that wolves up to 100kg (220lbs) were frequently taken.

  There is no doubt that the Russian wolf is a large subspecies, comparable (at least) in size to the MacKenzie valley subspecies.  Even Teddy Roosevelt noticed their larger size and more aggressive personalities (what is it about Eurasian subspecies of animals also found in North America that the European animals are more aggressive than the North American ones? eg the lynx in Europe as compared to the lynx in Canada etc etc....it might make an interesting discussion point) on one of his frequent hunting expeditions.
   
  So I asked Sergei and he confirmed it to be true. (Naturally it must be taken with a healthy grain of salt since he has a business to run) I asked him (earlier today) for photographic evidence and he said he would get to it in the next day or two but the impression he gives is that wolves exceeding 200lb (90kg) in parts of North East Siberia are shot  several times (say twice or three times per hunting season) each year. 

He seems to think that most Russians would scoff at the idea that world's largest wolf ever weighs 175lb, and as an indication posted me an image he has to hand of a wolf that perhaps exceeds  that weight. He also says that Russians, unlike in North America, are extremely lax when it comes to recording weights, records etc etc, especially since the fall of Communism. 

(I hope the picture posts!)
He tells me (i have no way of verifying this, I must admit) that the man pictured is a shade over six foot and weighs about 220 pounds. 
(Notice the wolverine at the  side of the pic) 

I leave it to the viewer to decide,......
(whatever its weight, its still quite an impressive animal)


dasyurus Wrote:Global Warming Threatens Moose, Wolves


For more information on this story contact:
Email: Jennifer Donovan 
Phone: 906-487-4521 

August 15, 2007--Global warming is impacting more than the water levels in the Great Lakes. It could be the beginning of the end for the moose and wolves of Isle Royale. And if it is, a Michigan Technological University scientist places the blame squarely on the human race. 

“Humans have made summers increasingly hot, which likely exacerbates moose ticks,” says John Vucetich, a population biologist in Michigan Tech’s School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. “Both the heat and the ticks are detrimental to moose. If wolves go extinct for a lack of moose, humans will be to blame.”

Isle Royale is an isolated wilderness island near the northwestern shores of Lake Superior, close to the Canadian border. A U.S. National Park, it is home to a variety of rarely seen wildlife, including moose and wolves. 

But the moose and wolf populations on Isle Royale are shrinking, and Michigan Tech researchers, who have been them for nearly 50 years, blame it on climate change. Five of the last six summers have been the hottest in half a century.

“Hot summers are hard on moose,” said Vucetich. Hot weather causes moose to rest more and forage less, he explained, and summer foraging is how moose prepare to survive the long, bitter winters. 

Warm springs and falls may also promote breeding of winter ticks, a species of tick that feeds on moose. The past five warm years have brought devastating tick infestations to Isle Royale. “The ticks weaken the moose and make them vulnerable to wolves,” Vucetich explained. “The loss of blood caused by the ticks can even kill the moose outright.”

In 2000, there were 1,100 moose on the 210 square mile island. Now there are fewer than 400. 

As the numbers of moose dropped, the wolf population initially grew, probably in response to the additional food supply provided by weakened moose. But now the wolves—the moose’s only predator on Isle Royale—are themselves falling prey to the changing climate. Between 2006 and 2007, the number of wolves on the island decreased from 30 to 21. 

Again, Vucetich blames the weather. “There are too few moose for the wolves to eat, and the reason there are too few moose is very likely that hot summers and ticks made them too easy for the wolves to kill,” he said. 

During the ongoing 50-year study of the wolves and moose on Isle Royale, the populations have never dropped this low. The wolves on the isolated island are the only predator of moose, and moose are virtually the only prey for the wolves. It’s a model ecosystem that may be slipping into a new balance—one that may not include wolves. 

“Ecosystems change; that’s normal,” said Vucetich. “When they change quickly in dramatic ways, that creates a new balance,” he explained. “Nature is still in balance. It may just be a balance that doesn’t favor humans and disenfranchises certain kinds of wildlife.” 

Scientists believe that wolves first walked to Isle Royale in the mid-20th century, across the 15-mile channel between the island and Canada. That channel used to freeze regularly. It freezes much less frequently now—another sign of climate change. Wildlife experts think that the moose swam across, although it is possible that they were brought on a boat. 

“Continued hot summers could mean more trouble for moose, and as a consequence, for wolves on Isle Royale,” Vucetich added. 

If the moose or wolves vanish from Isle Royale, “we will have lost one of the best opportunities to study the relationship of predators and prey,” the population biologist said. “And we must study it in order to understand and preserve it.”

Michigan Technological University is a leading public research university, conducting research, developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering, forestry and environmental sciences, computer sciences, technology, business and economics, natural sciences, arts, humanities and social sciences. 

http://www.admin.mtu.edu/urel/news/media_relations/592/

 

taipan Wrote:Salmon Predation

Adult wolves in coastal British Columbia averaged 27 fish per hour, mostly pink salmon. Pups had lower catch rates, and a much lower efficiency of capture. Adults were successful in 49 percent of attempts, but pups succeeded in only 13 percent of capture attempts. Wolves 'high-graded' the salmon even more than bears; they ate only the head area of almost all captured fish. In addition to obtaining calories and important fatty acids, these wolves might also have avoided certain parasites in the body of the fish that are lethal to wolves and other canids. Apparently we don't have information on the importance of salmon foraging for wolf survival and reproduction. Wolves also are known to capitalize on the salmon cafeteria on Prince of Wales and probably do so elsewhere in Southeast. But little information is available for our area, and I have found nothing in the published literature about possible interactions with bears.

• Mary F. Willson is a retired professor of ecology and a Trail Mix board member

http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/0819...9099.shtml

[Image: ep.jpg]

Video of wolves hunting salmon (provided by Reddhole)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjVSyQkqZ7s

dasyurus Wrote:This article discusses issues surrounding wolf predation on Elk and the factors that influence the success rate :

Wolves Find Happy Hunting Grounds In Yellowstone National Park

Science Daily — If Mark Boyce could converse with elk, he might give them a word of advice: avoid open, flat, snowy areas near rivers and roads.

A biological scientist at the University of Alberta, Boyce analyzed 774 wolf-elk kill sites and concluded that spatial patterns of predation between wolves and elk are more strongly influenced by landscape features than by wolf distribution. 

"We found that even though wolf and elk populations overlapped in many areas of our study, the kill sites did not correlate with the areas of overlap as much as they were consistent with certain landscape features, such as proximity to roads," Boyce said.

Boyce and his colleagues studied the wolf-elk interactions over a period of 10 consecutive winters in a northern range of the Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. 

The area has been of special interest to researchers since 14 wolves from the Canadian Rockies were introduced to the park in 1995. Wolves had been extirpated from Yellowstone in the 1930s, and some people speculated the re-introduced wolves would doom the park's elk population. However, while the number of wolves on Yellowstone's northern range has since grown to 84, the number of elk has not declined appreciably. 

"We've found that the availability of refuge areas for elk, and their ease of accessing them, should buffer the elk population in the park from extreme levels of predation," Boyce said. 

Boyce added that wolves are inefficient predators, with low rates of hunting success--usually around 20 per cent--which is due, in part, to the large size and defensive capabilities of elk, their main prey. Prime-age adult elk are largely invulnerable to predation from wolves, which are highly selective and target the young, old or weak. 

"Our findings suggest that landscape features may often 'tip the balance' in predator-prey outcomes, thus influencing post-encounter outcomes," Boyce said. 

Boyce and colleagues noted that "browse communites"--foraging areas in open, flat landscape near roads or rivers (which can cut off escape routes)--offer the greatest risk of wolf predation for elk. Also, deep snowy areas, which are much harder for the heavy, hoof-legged elk to move through than the lighter, wide-pawed wolves, are also dangerous.

The great challenge for the elk, however, is that the risky foraging areas provide sustenance during the critical winter months, when the elk experience shrinking fat reserves. 

"Our study makes clear that elk in winter face a clear trade-off between forage quality and predation risk. How elk perceive and manage the trade-off between food and safety will ultimately determine if they will survive," Boyce said.

The research results were published recently in the academic journal Ecology Letters. 

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of Alberta

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/200...114825.htm

dasyurus Wrote:The wolf returns to Vaud

Evidence of at least one animal has been found in the canton for the first time since the mid-19th century following the killing of two goats.

They’re crying wolf in Vaud. Wildlife experts say the animal has returned to the canton for the first time in 150 years. The evidence is supported by a photograph and genetic testing of two goats killed at the end of July in the Anzeindaz region of the Vaud Alps. The comings and goings of wolves in Vaud have been long suspected since they are already present in the nearby cantons of Valais and Bern. 

Even before the genetic testing “we had a photo of a wolf obtained thanks to photographic traps installed in mid-July,” said Sébastien Sachot, cantonal wildlife officer. The tests showed that the goats were victims of a wolf of Italian origin. The killing of 13 sheep in the La Vare area (also in Anzeindaz) further bolsters the evidence. Sachot does not exclude the possibility that several wolves are on the loose, although generally the wolves in Switzerland act alone rather than in packs. 

Measures have been put in place to protect livestock herds. A national plan authorizes the culling of a wolf after a minimum of 25 livestock animals have been killed in an area in a month. “A shepherd and two dogs will monitor a herd of 900 sheep in the affected region,” Sachot said. Otherwise, herds of goats must be brought in at night, something that wasn’t always the case before, he said. 

Another wolf, also believed to be of Italian origin has been identified in the Chablais area of Valais, after a herd of sheep was attacked at the end of July. The last wolf native to Vaud soil was killed in 1855 at Agiez, near Orbe, according to cantonal records. The wolf was present throughout Switzerland in the 16th century but campaigns by farmers led to the decimation of the animal. The wolf has never disappeared from Italy, which explains how the animal is making a gradual return to this country. In Switzerland the wolf is now protected because it is illegal to hunt it. 

Experts say that wolves are normally not a danger to humans. They will even flee from children. The only exception is if it is wounded it may become aggressive and attack, Sachot said. 

http://www.tdg.ch/pages/home/tribune_de_...nu)/126325
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
#7
reddhole Wrote:Wolf Pack Size
and
Food Acquisition
Paul A. Schmidt and L. David Mech*
October 2000


Many workers have proposed or accepted the idea that the reason gray wolves (Canis lupus) live in groups, or packs, is because group hunting facilitates their acquisition of large prey (Murie 1944; Mech 1970; Zimen 1976; Nudds 1978; Pulliam and Caraco 1978; Bekoff and Wells 1980; Rodman 1981). In other words, a pack of eight wolves, for example would be more than twice as successful as a pack of four. If this proposal is valid, then the amount of food acquired per individual should increase as pack size increases, at least to some optimal size (Nudds 1978).

Nudds (1978) utilized sparse data from the literature and detected an apparent relationship between wolf pack size and food acquired per wolf that implied that packs smaller than optimal size acquired substantially less food per wolf than those of optimal size. He also speculated that there were different optimal pack sizes for wolves preying on moose (Alces alces) and other large prey than for those preying principally on deer (Odocoileus virginianus), by analogy to the situation described by Caraco and Wolf (1975) for lions (Panthera leo).


However, Thurber and Peterson (1993) used considerably more data and demonstrated that for wolves preying primarily on moose on Isle Royale, food acquisition per wolf decreased with increased pack size. Hayes (1995) found the same for wolves preying on moose and caribou (Rangifer tarandus), and Dale et al. (1995) concluded that the larger packs they observed killing moose, caribou, and Dall sheep (Ovis dalli) acquired no more food per wolf than did the smaller packs. Their findings not only contradicted Nudds's (1978) notion of optimal pack size but also tended to refute the claim that wolves live in packs in order to facilitate the killing of larger prey. The relationship that Thurber and Peterson (1993) found implied that, for example, each member of packs of six to 12 gained only 60%-70% of the food that single wolves or pairs acquired. Hayes's (1995) figures indicated that each member of packs of six to 12 acquired only 35%-60% of the food that individual pair members did. In neither study was there evidence that packs of three to five obtained more food per wolf than pairs did, contrary to Nudds's (1978) preliminary finding.

Thurber and Peterson's (1993) study involved a single population of wolves and a single prey animal; Hayes's (1995) investigation included two prey species. Here we examine the literature based on wolf populations in many areas and involving several prey species to better evaluate the relationship between wolf pack size and food acquisition and its implications for the optimal pack size hypothesis or the hypothesis that wolves live in groups to facilitate killing larger prey.

We examined predation rates from 11 studies completed between 1971 and 1989 involving the following prey species: white-tailed deer, moose, sheep, caribou, and bison (Bison bison) (table 1). We converted reported predation rates to kilograms per wolf per day using two approaches. Either weight estimates of kills were already provided in the individual studies or the consumable weights of prey were based on conversion units outlined by Mech (1966).

The pack sizes in our review varied from two to 20 wolves, and the calculated number of kilograms of food acquired per wolf per day ranged from 0.5 to 45.2. The total data set, including wolves that preyed on more than one species, showed a negative curvilinear relationship between pack size and amount of food acquired (y = -2.9973 ln(x) + 14.202; r2 = 0.07). We found similar but stronger relationships when the data were examined separately for deer and for moose (fig. 1). No analysis showed an increase in food acquired per wolf with an increase in pack size.

We found no evidence that increased pack size resulted in increased food acquired per wolf. In fact, regardless of how the data were examined —using all data, using data by prey species, or using data by study area (Thurber and Peterson 1993; Hayes 1995)— the relationship indicated less food per wolf as pack size increased.

The relationship we found was weakest for the total data set. However, this was a result of a difference in scale between the data for wolves killing deer versus those killing other prey. Conceivably, the data for wolves killing deer represent underestimates (Fritts and Mech 1981; Fuller 1989). In any case, the individual analyses by prey species showed stronger relationships (fig. 1), similar to those for wolves preying on moose on Isle Royale (r2 = 0.30; Thurber and Peterson 1993) and on moose and caribou in the Yukon (r2 = 0.40; Hayes 1995).

This review includes data from wolves preying on several prey species in several areas, and they consistently show a negative relationship between pack size and food acquisition per wolf, as does the other literature on the subject (Thurber and Peterson 1993; Hayes 1995). Taken together, these studies and our analysis provide strong evidence against the hypothesis that the reason wolves live in packs is to facilitate their predation on large prey.

We propose a kin-selection hypothesis to explain why wolves who live in packs, as Schoener (1971), Rodman (1981), and Hayes (1995) also did, but for a slightly different reason. Most wolf packs consist of a pair of adults and their maturing offspring (Mech 1970). Almost all offspring disperse before 3 yr of age (Fritts and Mech 1981; Peterson et al. 1984; Ballard et al. 1987; Fuller 1989; Gese and Mech 1991). We believe that wolves live in packs primarily because adult pairs can then efficiently share with their offspring the surplus of food resulting from the pair's predation on large mammals. Single wolves can kill even their largest prey such as moose (Thurber and Peterson 1993) and bison (Carbyn et al. 1993), and even with large packs it is the adult pair that press the attack (Mech 1966, 1988).

The clearest support for our hypothesis comes from the fact that it is pairs of wolves, rather than, for example, packs of three or four, that acquire more food per wolf than does each member of larger packs on average (fig. 1). Furthermore, scavengers can usurp a high percentage of uneaten food (Promberger et al. 1993), so much of a pair's energetic profit could be lost. By bringing their young with them on hunts, pairs invest their energetic profit in their genetic heritage and maximize their energetic efficiency. Until they gain physical maturity and sufficient experience, the young likely obtain more food by remaining with their parents than by hunting on their own. In addition, they gain the hunting and killing experience that will further their survival after dispersal.

Evidence for a similar hypothesis for lion grouping was presented by Packer and Ruttan (1988) in contrast to earlier proposals emphasizing optimal foraging group size for that social species as well (Caraco and Wolf 1975).


http://www.mnforsustain.org/wolf_schmidt...d_food.htm

taipan Wrote:
taipan Wrote:Salmon Predation

Adult wolves in coastal British Columbia averaged 27 fish per hour, mostly pink salmon. Pups had lower catch rates, and a much lower efficiency of capture. Adults were successful in 49 percent of attempts, but pups succeeded in only 13 percent of capture attempts. Wolves 'high-graded' the salmon even more than bears; they ate only the head area of almost all captured fish. In addition to obtaining calories and important fatty acids, these wolves might also have avoided certain parasites in the body of the fish that are lethal to wolves and other canids. Apparently we don't have information on the importance of salmon foraging for wolf survival and reproduction. Wolves also are known to capitalize on the salmon cafeteria on Prince of Wales and probably do so elsewhere in Southeast. But little information is available for our area, and I have found nothing in the published literature about possible interactions with bears.

• Mary F. Willson is a retired professor of ecology and a Trail Mix board member

http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/0819...9099.shtml

[Image: ep.jpg]

Video of wolves hunting salmon (provided by Reddhole)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjVSyQkqZ7s

Unusual angler finds success at Brooks River
Mother wolf hauls in salmon despite grizzly competition


By CRAIG MEDRED
cmedred@adn.com

Published: September 30, 2007 
Last Modified: September 30, 2007 at 01:46 AM 

When a lone, female wolf appeared at the falls at Brooks River in Katmai National Park this summer and began catching red salmon as if she were the most efficient of brown bears, photographer Paul Stinsa from Chicago didn't know what to think. 

So, he did what photographers do. He took pictures, and he kept taking pictures.

Wolves have long been known to feed on salmon, but the way this wolf slipped into a fishing area owned by bears and the skill with which she went after the salmon caught some people by surprise.

"If I had a net and dynamite, I couldn't have caught fish so efficiently," said Stinsa, a Midwest-based manager for United Airlines. "She wasn't in the river two minutes, and she grabbed a fish and was out of there. She did this 15 times in a row."

Katmai superintendent Ralph Moore said that when Stinsa's photographs first popped up on the Internet, they stopped him cold.

"What a neat thing," he said. "I wish I would have seen that, too."

A wolf vying for salmon along with the oft-photographed Brooks bears was surprising enough that more than a few photographers thought the pictures might be computer-enhanced composites. Reached by phone in Illinois last week, Stinsa had heard such comments, too.

"The photos are not doctored in any way," he said. 

They were cropped, he said, and some spots with bad light were highlighted to make them look better. Other than that, they are 100 percent as they appeared in the viewfinder of his camera, he said.

And he has Park Service employee Niki Quester as a witness.

"She said she'd never seen anything like this,'' Stinsa added.

Wolves have been reported fishing at Brooks Falls before, but not quite as efficiently as this one.

David Person, an Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist who studies wolves in Southeast Alaska, said it is not unusual for wolves to catch salmon, but it is odd for them to use an area thick with bears.

"It would certainly seem to me highly unusual,'' he said.

Wolves and bears tend to be antagonistic toward each other. Wolves have been documented killing bear cubs, so the bears have reason to dislike wolves. Still, Person added, he has seen well-fed wolves ignoring well-fed black bears and vice versa on Southeast salmon streams.

If there is enough food available for everyone to get stuffed, he said, "they might not really notice each other."

Conditions at Brooks Falls this summer might also have played a role in what happened. Water levels in early July were unusually low, prompting many bears to move down into the river below the falls to feed. 

So many bears had gathered there that Stinsa said it was hard getting to the viewing platform at the falls. The bridge across the lower river was closed due to the bears constantly crawling over it.

"I guess I got lucky that day," the photographer said. He got across just before the bears took over the bridge.

When he arrived at the falls, Stinsa said, Quester was there along with a handful of Japanese tourists. They were on the platform usually crowded with photographers rotating in and out. 

Because there was so little traffic on this day (July 8), however, Stinsa got extended time on the platform.

"The bridge was closed all afternoon," he said. "No one else seemed to get across."

For most of the day, he photographed a couple of grizzlies at the falls catching fish. There was a large, male bear and a subadult, he said.

In the afternoon, the wolf appeared.

"The wolf kind of came out from under the platform," he said, looked around and disappeared for about half an hour. It reappeared on the far bank. Stisna said the wolf seemed to be eyeing a pile of partially eaten salmon carcasses that had accumulated below the falls where the bears were fishing.

Everyone on the platform thought the wolf was going to make a try for some of those fish, Stinsa said.

But when the male bear chased the subadult out of the falls and opened up some space, the wolf started fishing instead.

"She came down the (game) trail along the rock wall," Stinsa said. 

Clearly, he said, she was watching the water and stalking salmon in the shallows. When she saw what she wanted, she lunged, grabbed a fish by the tail, pulled it out, bit into its back to get a better hold and took off.

She was gone for a matter of minutes and then returned to catch another fish. That was the pattern for slightly over an hour. Often, Stinsa said, bears could be seen moving in the woods behind the wolf as she went to and from the river. But she continued to fish.

He suspects she was either delivering the fish she caught to cubs or handing them off to another wolf to carry back to a den.

"I can't imagine what else she was doing," he said.

The wolf was seen fishing at Brooks Falls for several weeks during the summer and appeared to be nursing, said Katmai ranger Peter Hamel. 

Person said it is possible the wolf was just high-grading her kills -- eating the fat-rich brains and eggs the way bears do when salmon are plentiful -- and then returning for seconds. But he doesn't discount the possibility she was delivering fish to pups or even to another wolf helping to feed pups.

Pup survival in Southeast, he said, has been found to be unusually high because of this very sort of behavior. A bounty of salmon -- some studies have concluded up to a quarter of wolves' diet on Prince of Wales Island comes from marine sources, most likely salmon -- can be key to helping young wolves survive that difficult first year.

As for catching salmon, Person said, he's found wolves to be deadly predators of fish when they can find them in shallow pools where they can be stalked, chased and grabbed.

"I've watched them," the biologist said. "I have no doubts about how efficient they are. They're actually very good at fishing."

[Image: wolfsalmon1.jpg]
Onlookers at Brooks Falls got a rare treat on July 8. Fishing along with bears, an enterprising wolf caught more than a dozen salmon. 

[Image: wolfsalmon4.jpg]
These pictures, taken by Paul Stinsa of Chicago on July 8, were so astounding that some viewers claimed the images must have been computer-generated. But "the photos are not doctored in any way," Stinsa says

[Image: wolfsalmon3.jpg]

[Image: wolfsalmon2.jpg]

http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/story/934...8417c.html


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

reddhole Wrote:On the 10th, ID WS investigated a report that a wolf attacked and injured a guard dog and killed a buck and a ewe sheep on a Sawtooth National Forest grazing allotment on Bluff Creek near Fairfield.  There was not enough evidence to confirm the depredation, but the investigator did determine that it was probable. 

http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/spec...122007.htm

taipan Wrote:
reddhole Wrote:On the 10th, ID WS investigated a report that a wolf attacked and injured a guard dog and killed a buck and a ewe sheep on a Sawtooth National Forest grazing allotment on Bluff Creek near Fairfield.  There was not enough evidence to confirm the depredation, but the investigator did determine that it was probable. 

http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/spec...122007.htm

On a similar theme, this time from Finland! (posted by Dasyurus in Wild animals that might kill your pet)

Quote:Around twenty dogs killed by wolves in southeastern municipality of Ruokolahti this autumn
 
Wolves have killed an exceptional number of dogs this autumn in the southeastern community of Ruokolahti in the province of South Karelia. Since August, 18 dogs have ended up as a takeaway meal for their larger canine cousins, and almost equally many representatives of man’s best friend are still missing.
The latest incident took place in the village of Virmutjoki last Saturday night. The entrails of a cross-bred tyke tethered outside for the night had been eaten and spread across the yard.
      
According to the Ruokolahti predator contact person Timo Mansikka, a group of three wolves is responsible for the devastation in the area. One of the beasts travels alone, the other two sometimes pair up.
"There is also a larger pack living in the area. More than likely these three individuals have been kicked out of the main group."
Two weeks ago the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry issued a permit to shoot one wolf. The permit expired on Tuesday and was not renewed.
Mansikka hopes that at least one of the three wolf shooting permits granted to the Kymi Game Management District for the hunting season that will start in November could be used in Ruokolahti.
"We have to get them out of here. People have already started limiting the outdoor activities of their children", Mansikka says.
      
Sightings of the animals have been reported weekly. One incident that testifies to the beasts' boldness was when a wolf tried to attack three dogs sitting on a glazed veranda, attempting to break in through a sliding glass door. Fortunately the glass door held. 
Most of the dogs have been killed in people's yards, but some have been lost on hunting trips.
"One doesn’t dare to let a dog into the woods any more. The autumn’s elk hunting season is thoroughly ruined."
Researcher Ilpo Kojola from the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute considers the behaviour of the Ruokolahti wolves exceptional. In his view a small minority of wolves have resorted to exceptional methods to secure easy meals.
      
"The risk is greater in more densely populated areas. Normally wolves avoid populated areas. In hunting situations, on the other hand, a wolf sees a dog as a rival beast of prey."
In Kojola’s view it is unlikely that wolv
es whould pose a danger to people. Dogs can be kept in cages or indoors.
Annually wolves kill around 50 dogs in Finland.


http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Around+...5231300656

reddhole Wrote:Below is information on wolves from Yellowstone's Mollie's Pack killing the Hayden Pack's alpha male and female. Mollie's Pack is the pack that kills bison (often losing kills to grizzlies) in winter in the Pelican Valley. Here are some pictures of the Hayden alpha pair:

[Image: Hayden_Wolves_op_400x600.jpg]

[Image: hayden-540f-with-pups.jpg]

Story:

Three wolf packs in elk migration corridor probably set conditions for the Mollies/Hayden conflict
November 1st, 2007 — Ralph Maughan 
Earlier story: Mollies Pack kills Hayden alpha pair

- - - -
Dan Stahler of the Yellowstone Park wolf team told me today that Hayden, Mollies and Gibbon have all been in Hayden Valley the last weeks because it is a major elk migration corridor from summer range to the south to the northern range. The packs are well aware of this and show up every October.

He said about a week ago Bob Landis saw the Mollies chasing the Haydens. Mollies and Gibbon have also been howling back and forth a lot.

No one is known to have seen the actual attack.

The bleeding alpha female was spotted first. She retreated to the trees in a spot she knew was comfortable. Stahler spotted her body the next day from the air with ravens on it.

Wondering about the Hayden alpha male, he soon spotted him dead in Cascade Meadow. This is where the Haydens, at least probably the Haydens, had killed an elk. At the time a grizzly was on the carcass and now he has buried it. Also at the time Mollies Pack was only a mile away.

Reports are today Mollies is chasing the remaining Haydens and could finish them off.

Stahler did say, however, that if the Haydens survive the next while it is possible a Mollies wolf or two could come and join with the Haydens. He said there is pack aggressive behavior that often disappears when several weeks pass and the pack is more spread out. One or more wolves might then return and engage in quite different behaviors, such as join the pack.

Currently there are 8 Mollies being seen, although earlier this summer 9 adults were counted and 6 Mollies pups. Perhaps some dispersed or are simply not with the eight.

It is not hopeless for the Haydens if they are not killed today or the next several days.

http://wolves.wordpress.com/2007/11/01/t...-conflict/
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
#8
taipan Wrote:
reddhole Wrote:Reports are today Mollies is chasing the remaining Haydens and could finish them off.

Stahler did say, however, that if the Haydens survive the next while it is possible a Mollies wolf or two could come and join with the Haydens. He said there is pack aggressive behavior that often disappears when several weeks pass and the pack is more spread out. One or more wolves might then return and engage in quite different behaviors, such as join the pack.

Currently there are 8 Mollies being seen, although earlier this summer 9 adults were counted and 6 Mollies pups. Perhaps some dispersed or are simply not with the eight.

It is not hopeless for the Haydens if they are not killed today or the next several days.

http://wolves.wordpress.com/2007/11/01/t...-conflict/

I posted this similar event earlier in this thread, involving the deaths of the two alphas of a rival pack, and the survivsl of theremaining pups that went on to form their own packs. So there is hope for the 'Haydens'!


"One vivid example of this occurred in 1997. The Soda Butte pack (now the Yellowstone Delta pack), which was released in October 1996, settled around Heart Lake, denning in a cave near the thermal features of Witch Creek. In early 1997, the Thorofare pack formed and occupied an area south of the southeast arm of Yellowstone Lake. In summer, Badger Creek was a hotspot for them. Their den was close to the Yellowstone River. Summer passed uneventfully, with the two packs never coming close to each other.
In summer, the area occupied by both packs pulsates with several thousand elk. By winter, most of these elk have migrated south or east, a few north, to winter range. However, deep snow did not come until December that year, later than normal, delaying the elk migration. Once the snow came, the elk moved, and so did the wolves. The Soda Butte pack, four adults with four pups, moved into the territory of the Thorofare pack, which had two adults with six pups. In a pack-to pack confrontation, a number of factors typically play a role in determining the winner: whose turf is it (whether a pack is trespassing or defending), which pack has more wolves, and the level of experience possessed by those wolves. In this case, the Soda Butte pack was trespassing, which put them at a disadvantage, but they had an equal number of wolves and more experience, likely giving them an edge. Because none of the pups would be of help, this battle would be four-on-two.
The two packs clashed in late December. As is typical, the Soda Butte wolves attacked an alpha, male #35. They caught him along the shoreline of Yellowstone Lake and tore him to shreds, leaving nothing but hair, blood, and urine. Wolf Project staff could see where he made his last stand, as the story was told in the tracks in the snow. It appeared that the other wolves in his pack had fled when the attack started. In his effort to survive, #35 had dived below a fallen log on the shoreline, where he found a deep hole, likely hollowed out by strong lakeshore winds. He had backed himself up against the onslaught in this hole, but his defense had been futile. I walked over to an area nearby and picked up his radio collar, placed as if someone had laid it on the snow. Most collars in these situations are found still on the animal. Two other wolves probably died as a result of this encounter.
It appeared that the surviving wolves fled south along the Yellowstone River. The alpha female, #30, and a pup, #127,
turned up Escarpment Creek into steeper terrain. It was the first time Wolf Project staff had located them there, and the area was probably unfamiliar to them. This route proved fatal, as #30 and her pup were killed in an avalanche. After mortality signals alerted us to this cluster of dead wolves, we flew in by helicopter to try to sort out what had happened. We attempted to dig #30 and #127 out of avalanche debris, but after we had dug down well over our heads and seen no sign of either wolf, we decided to defer searching until the snow was gone. When we returned by horseback that summer, all that was left were two wolf skeletons surrounded by bright blue harebells near a clear pool at the bottom of a small waterfall. A third collar was recovered up the Thorofare River. It had been chewed off, but no wolf was found.
The Thorofare pack had been broken apart, and both alphas were dead. The remaining pups traveled in a loose coalition for the rest of the winter, but split up in the spring. Some of these pups went on to form other wolf packs—the Washakie and Gros Ventre packs south of the park—again showing the resilience of wolves."

http://64.241.25.110/yell/pdfs/yellsci/YS13(1).pdf

reddhole Wrote:It looks like the Molly's Pack has taken over the territory:

Haydens outrun Mollies! For now anyway.
November 2nd, 2007 — Ralph Maughan

This latest information again comes courtesy of Kim Kaiser who has been in contact with Leo Keeler who has been in the area. This is the email she got today. Thank you, Kim!

This will be about it for the year, because they will be closing the roads, so I hope they make it.

Keeler wrote:

This morning I found the Hayden pack near the road junction at Canyon. After seeing the old Beta, ­ now alpha ­ female and the 5 pups, I noticed the Molly pack coming out of the draw to the east ­ at full speed. The wolves of the Molly pack are significantly bigger than the Haydens, but the Haydens are much faster and they outran the Mollies.

The Molly pack remained in the area for about 20 minutes, checking for the scent markings of the Hayden’s. With the Molly wolves so focused on finding and catching the Hayden’s, the common belief is the only way the remaining Hayden’s can survive is to leave the area. When they leave, it will complete the takeover of their territory by the Molly pack.

I am saddened by the loss of viewing/photographing opportunities provided by the Haydens (likely the best in Yellowstone) and the take over of their territory by the Molly pack (the least seen group of wolves in Yellowstone). But as we all know, photographing opportunities change and in this case we can all be glad it is a natural change.

Unless something significant happens in the next two days, this will be my last post on the changing of territories by these wolves.

_________

Note: Keeler has a photo of the Mollies on the chase. However, to see it you have to register with NatureScapes.net

http://wolves.wordpress.com/2007/11/02/h...ow-anyway/

[Image: MollyWolfChasing.jpg]

reddhole Wrote:Interesting backcountry observation of wolf predation in Yellowstone. From a pack of 16 wolves, 2 wolves kill a young cow elk and another 2 wolves kill an adult cow elk. In both cases, bison gave the wolves a hard time.

Wolf story from Specimen Ridge
November 4th, 2007 — Ralph Maughan 
Most good wolf sightings are from the road in the Lamar Valley area. Wolves hear hikers and move out of sight, but not always. Trent Morrell sent me this most interesting account of a recent hike on Specimen Ridge in Yellowstone Park.

In early October, me and two of my friends traveled from Portland, Oregon to explore the Lamar Valley for three days of day hikes.

The first day, Friday 10/12/07, we chose to hike the Specimen Ridge Trail. We had hiked it the summer of 2006 and were looking forward to doing it in the fall.

As we climbed up the first mile, we saw over 100 elk hanging on the ridge line with many big bulls still bugling. Amped up, we continued to the top of the ridge glassing the elk frequently and listening to the never-ending bugles. Once on the ridge line, we followed the trail along the top admiring the huge elk antlers that had been shed. We saw more and more elk.

About three miles in from the trail head we rounded a corner to a flat point. Here we had a herd of about twenty elk about 40 yards at 12 o’clock, about fifty bison 250 yards below us in a meadow at 2 o’clock, about 20 bison 60 yards below us at 9 o’clock and next to them a herd of about twenty elk. In the area between the elk herd at 12 o’clock and the bison and elk herd at 9 o’clock was a thicket of trees. We had not even been there a minute when out of the thicket shot a wolf up a small hill and into the herd of elk at 12 o’clock. Then shot another wolf and another up into the elk. It was hard to tell, but at least six wolves came out of the thicket.

We watched in disbelief as two of the wolves separated a young cow elk from the herd and chased it down a hill to the bison at 2 o’clock. The young elk ran into the herd of bison. It ran back and forth from each side of the bison herd as the two wolves tried to get to it. The bison would not allow the wolves to get to the elk, but eventually the elk ran out of the herd of bison.

The wolves chased it less than twenty yards and took it down. As this was happening we saw even more wolves come out of the thicket and observed two of these wolves separate another cow elk, chasing her behind the thicket. After the first elk was taken down by the wolves I looked to 9 o’clock and saw the two wolves that had took chase to the second cow elk take her down right next to the bison. The bison immediately surrounded the cow elk and for close to five minutes would not let the wolves get to it.

Eventually the bison moved on and the wolves moved in. After the wolves had the cow elk down many of them began to howl for several minutes. We think we counted close to sixteen wolves. About half went down to feed on the elk kill below us at 2 o’clock. The other half fed on the kill below us at 9 o’clock. We watched them feed and their faces turn red with elk blood. As we watched the wolves eat, I glassed the slope behind us and spotted a big grizzly up on a slope turning over rocks and I think eating something. Soon a coyote showed up and watched the wolves eat. After the wolves finished eating and were lying in the sun sleeping their big meal off, we headed back to our truck.

I found it very interesting that the elk herd did not leave the area. In fact, the elk only moved about thirty yards from where the wolves first started to chase them. I was also amazed at how protective the bison were.

One wolf also sticks out as it seemed larger than the others was gray in color and had a radio collar on. I think it may have been the alpha because it was first to feed and it kept a close eye on us. In fact, after the wolves were done eating it even snuck up behind us to about 30 feet before I noticed it. Then it ran back to the rest of the wolves after we turned and faced it. My description does not do this experience justice, but I tried. My mind is still full of the sounds, smells, visions and awe at what we saw that day- it was the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my life.

http://wolves.wordpress.com/2007/11/04/w...#more-1721

taipan Wrote:Wolf Population Rebounds In Yellowstone

November 24, 2007 8:47 a.m. EST 

Danilo Gagelonia - AHN News Writer

Pray, MT (AHN) - The wolf may lose its place in the endangered species list.

The Associated Press reported Friday that in just 12 years after the wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park after years of near-extinction, a sharp rise in the wolf population has been observed in the region.

Wolf numbers increased 20 percent to 30 percent every year. Entire packs taken out to reduce livestock kills were quickly replaced by new packs. 

Federal officials are considering removing the wolf from the list of endangered animals. Critics assert the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could be initiating a slaughter that could push back the rebound.

Fish and Wildlife wolf recovery project leader Ed Bangs said, "The more of something you have, the less valuable each individual piece becomes. If you have more wolves than you have now, it's really going to start causing a lot of problems."

A government eradication program in the middle 1900's brought the wolves to near-extinction in the northern Rocky Mountains. It took $24 million and more than two decades to re-establish the population.

In 1995, 66 wolves were initially transplanted into Yellowstone from Canada. At present, an estimated 1,545 roam Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

As the wolf population grew, the number of livestock and other domestic animals killed by wolves spiked from 123 in 2000 to 330 in 2007. Wolves killed in retaliation by ranchers and federal wildlife agents soared seven times during the same period, from 20 to 146.

If the wolf is delisted, hunters and trappers would be able to get permits to kill them. If the number of wolves drop lower than 450, hunting and trapping will be strictly controlled; 300 or lower, they'll be back in the endangered list. 

http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7009255665

Nothing like successfully rebuilding a population, so it can be hunted for fun :Smile

dasyurus Wrote:Drought a wolf’s ally in hunt for park elk
Lack of precipitation is a big factor in Yellowstone’s declining wapiti numbers.


By Cory Hatch
January 9, 2008

Researchers say wolves likely aren’t the cause of a substantial drop in Yellowstone elk numbers, just the beneficiaries of an enduring drought that has choked off forage and left the ungulates weak during the winter months.

Biologists have documented a decline of about 50 percent – from roughly 20,000 animals to about 10,000 – in Yellowstone’s elk population since federal officials started reintroducing wolves to the park in 1995. 

In more than 13 years of data collection, park biologists have documented roughly 2,000 wolf kills.

Twice a year, once in early winter and once in late winter, Yellowstone researchers spend 30 days looking for wolf kills with ground crews and airplanes. Scientists note the location of the kill, the pack that killed the elk, and the elk’s age and sex. Biologists also measure the fat content of the dead elk’s bone marrow.

The marrow lets researchers gauge the fitness of each animal. Bone marrow with high fat content shows that the elk ate well during the summer. Bone marrow with low fat content likely means the elk didn’t find enough high-quality forage, and therefore entered the winter months in poorer shape. 

Typically, in years with heavy snow, wolves usually kill more elk because the ungulates get bogged down and can’t forage as effectively. And in years with light snow, wolves kill fewer elk because the elk can run faster and have more access to forage, said Doug Smith, Yellowstone wolf project leader.

But according to Smith, light snow is only a short-term advantage for elk. In the long term, less snow could mean less forage for animals during the summer. Then elk enter the next year’s winter weaker, and therefore more susceptible to wolf predation. 

The first few years of the study, between 1995 and 1997, with average or above-average snowfall, wolf kills occurred as expected. 

However, as the study progressed and drought began to dominate the Yellowstone ecosystem, elk kills began to increase. 

“In the first few years, all elk – cows, calves and bulls – were in good shape early in the winter,” Smith said. “But with less snow and less rain since ’96-’97, we saw a decline in the condition of elk entering winter. More and more cows and bulls are entering winter already in poor shape.”

Easier targets

This general decline in elk body condition corresponded with an increase in the number of wolf kills, even in years with light snow, when elk normally have the advantage. According to Smith, this increase in wolf kills is likely due to drought because less high-quality forage is available to elk during the summer to carry them through the winter months.

A look at the bone marrow shows that wolves are either selecting out the weak elk and only the weak elk, or all elk are in poor shape, Smith said.

The drought is good news for wolves because they can kill more elk, but Smith says the predators likely aren’t having a huge effect on the elk population as a whole. Some of the elk in poor condition would likely die of starvation anyway.

“Before 1995, we had wetter winters and summers, and the range could support more elk,” Smith said. “The ability of the land to support elk has declined. There are too many elk for the range.”   

“You get more and more elk in poor shape, and the wolves kill those elk,” he said. “Without wolves, the elk population in Yellowstone would have declined anyway. Would it have declined as much? Probably not.”

Beyond the drought’s effects on the elk population as a whole, Smith said the lack of rain and snow probably has allowed wolves to start killing bull elk early in the year. 

Because bulls rut, competing with other males for breeding rights with females, they spend more time in the late fall jostling with competitors than eating. 

“Elk biologists tell me they might not eat for two or three weeks,” Smith said. “The rut wears them down even more.”

Smith thinks this period of quasi-fasting during the rut could place some bulls, already in poor shape from the drought, in greater danger of being eaten by wolves, though he says the idea is just speculation at this point. 

By the time March rolls around, Smith said, even in years with good precipitation and, consequently, good forage, all of the elk are in poor shape.

Range ‘worst I’ve ever seen’

This winter could see the same pronounced effect on predation because of drought. 

“The range in Yellowstone going into this winter is the worst I’ve ever seen,” Smith said. “What we’re waiting to see is how that plays out in terms of wolf predation.”

Other predators like grizzly bears and mountain lions have also had an effect on elk populations. Grizzly bears, Smith said, are “huge calf predators,” and mountain lions have reached their carrying capacity in the park. Further, state wildlife managers are managing elk herds at lower levels compared with years past. 

If the past decade or so had normal precipitation, Smith said, wolves “would have killed elk that probably would have lived,” he said. “[The drought has caused] a constriction of elk carrying capacity that wolves have been able to take advantage of.” 

While it’s hard to predict what will happen in a given year, Smith said 13 years of data on thousands of elk kills give a more complete picture.  

“We’re learning that no winter is alike, and early winter and late winter is always different,” he said. “If you took out any three-year period, your conclusions about wolves in Yellowstone would be completely different than if you looked at that entire 13-year data set.”

Smith said he hopes to further test his theory about the relationships among drought, wolves and elk by looking at satellite photos of forage conditions in Yellowstone during the past decade.

http://www.jacksonholenews.com/article.php?art_id=2612

dasyurus Wrote:Elusive wolves caught on camera 

By Rebecca Morelle 
Science reporter, BBC News  

[Image: _44391893_wolf_2_416.jpg]
First footage of wolves hunting waterfowl  

Remarkable new footage of Canada's Arctic wolves has been caught on camera by a BBC crew. 

The team managed to film the wolves taking to the water to hunt waterfowl - behaviour that has never been seen before, according to an expert. 

Arctic wolves live in the Canadian Arctic and northern parts of Greenland; observing them is a difficult task as they rarely interact with humans. 

The team followed a pack on Ellesmere Island for several weeks last summer. 

This glimpse into the lives of these elusive animals was filmed for the Natural World wildlife programme: White Falcon, White Wolf, which also features other animals, including gyr falcons, Arctic foxes and snowy owls, that live on the remote island. 

[Image: _44018657_wolves203mcneill.jpg] 
The wolves were filmed along with other animals on the island

Wolf expert David Mech, from the US Geological Survey, said: "I'd never seen wolves try to catch waterfowl before and this was interesting to see." 

Usually, he said, wolves eat large hoofed animals, although they will vary their diet as circumstances dictate. 

He explained: "They take advantage of whatever food opportunities are available, and in this case, these waterfowl were available, so they took advantage of trying to get them. 

"I'm interested in the challenges these animals overcome to hunt their food. I've been intrigued with how the wolf manages to solve problems in so many different ways, with so many different species." 

Lucky find

Ellesmere Island sits at the northernmost tip of Canada; it is only during the brief Arctic summer that the snow thaws to reveal the true features of the rugged landscape beneath. 

Here, the BBC Natural History Unit tracked down a pack of eight wolves, including a dominant male and three one-year-olds. 

  
The wolves, especially one called Lucy, were bold and playful

[Image: _44075095_lucy300mcneill.jpg]
Inquisitive nature  

Harry Hoskyns-Abrahall, assistant producer of White Falcon, White Wolf, said the team was lucky to come across the wolves almost as soon as they arrived on the island. 

He told the BBC News website: "We went to this particular area because wolves had been spotted there a few years earlier. 

"We were immediately encouraged when we found wolf tracks and marking posts on day one; and then the next day, we went out on the same route and we saw a wolf, which was absolutely unbelievable and very exciting." 

By following the wolf and its tracks, the team was eventually able to track down a den. 

"We were incredibly lucky," said Mr Hoskyns-Abrahall. "Once you've got the den, you have somewhere where the wolves are going to focus their behaviour." 

The crew was able to film the animals going about their daily business. 

"The most incredible part was when we saw the young wolf swim out to the middle of a lake and go after the geese, we just couldn't believe that it could seriously consider getting a goose in that way," he added. 

Inquisitive nature 

The team was also amazed by the wolves' boldness. 

"The younger wolves in the pack would come right up to us, and they would come up to our camp and empty our rucksacks - you would wake up and find your clothing spread all over the place. They were very inquisitive," explained Mr Hoskyns-Abrahall. 

  


Arctic Wolf Diary (1)
Arctic Wolf Diary (2) 

Arctic explorer Jim McNeill, who worked with the crew and kept a diary of his experiences for the BBC News website, was particularly taken with one young wolf who he nicknamed Lucy. 

He said: "The highlight for me was one afternoon when the crew was off filming. 

"Lucy came near the camp and I spent the best part of an afternoon with her in spectacular sunshine. We just shared a space - it felt extremely special." 

He added: "I've been exploring this area for 25 years and to spend this time with these animals gave me another perspective on Arctic life. 
 [Image: _44018652_wolf300mcneill.jpg]
Luck played a factor when tracking down the Arctic wolves 

"To be part of the process of finding them and then capturing that footage was a fantastic feeling." 

Fergus Beeley, producer of the programme, said making the film was something of an accomplishment. 

He said: "Arctic wolves have been an aspiration [to film] of mine for about 15 years. 

"I have a bit of a reputation for going for animals that are a tricky: filming the wolves posed the ultimate challenge. 

"We didn't know where they would be 'denning', what their movements would be, so we had to do a lot of planning based on 'guestimates' - and luckily they worked out to be right." 

THE ARCTIC'S WHITE WOLF 
  • The Arctic wolf is actually a subspecies of the grey wolf
  • In comparison it has a shorter stature but a bulkier build 
  • Scientific name for the Arctic wolf is Canis lupus arctos
  • It ranges across the Canadian Arctic and north Greenland
  • Packs will prey on caribou, musk oxen, hares, lemmings
White Falcon, White Wolf is on BBC Two on Friday 1 February at 2000 GMT and Sunday 3 February at 1755 GMT

Link to three videos 
1. Wolf hunting waterfowl 
2. Snowy Owl swoops wolves
3. Inquisitive Nature

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7213731.stm

reddhole Wrote:Summary:: The data below shows that wolf pairs regularly kill adult moose in reasonable condition (at least based on nutritional condition) without the advantage of deep snow.

Source: Hayes, Baer, Wotschikowsky and Harestad, "Kill Rate by Wolves on Moose in the Yukon", Canadian Journal of Zoology, 78: P 49-59, 2000


Wolf Pairs Killed Many Adult Moose

Below is data about wolf kills and pack size extracted from the study. Unfortunately, the study did not explicitly break this out and I had to do some analysis to derive it. For those interested in how I did this, please read my next post.

Wolf pairs killed 49 ungulates, which was 24.38% of the ungulates killed by all packs. Wolf pairs killed 47 moose, 22 of which were adults (2 cows, 2 bulls, 18 adults of unknown sex), 2 yearlings and 23 calves (which weigh 150 KG at this time of year). 47% of their moose kills were adults as compared to 56% of kills made by all of the packs. However, the other packs data seems skewed from a couple of large packs that made many adult moose kills (to be expected based on their greater food requirements) and wolf pairs had adult moose make up a greater proportion of their kills than many larger packs.

[Image: HayesWolfKillsSummary003-1.jpg]

[Image: HayesWolfKillsSummary005.jpg]


Age, Sex, and Condition of the Moose - Does Not Appear Bad
 

Unfortunately, the researchers did not track this data for all kills, but they did compile it for a sample. IMHO, since wolf pairs killed nearly a quarter of the ungulates, this should be similar to the ungulates they killed.

The average age of adult moose killed was 8.9 years. I would generally consider a moose over 10 to be old. However, moose antler size does not reach it maximum size until this age - so these may in fact be very strong animals. Moose can live to 20 years or more.

Wolves killed 28 adult cows and 18 bulls. However, cows often outnumber bulls (due to human hunting), and the authors do not mention any selectivity for sex by the wolves.

The average marrow fat of adult moose killed was 77%, which is not bad. I've seen figures of 70% and 80% used as an indicator of subpar nutritional condition. Of course, something else could have been wrong with these animals.


[Image: HayesMooseAgeSexandConditon001.jpg]

Below are distributions of the ages and nutritional condition of adult moose killed. Notice that moose of every age were killed, but there was an emphasis on slightly older ones. You can also seen most of the adult moose killed had marrow fat levels higher than 70% and 80%.

[Image: HayesMooseDistribution001.jpg]

Kill Rates - Wolf Pairs Regularly Killed Moose

The graph on the right shows the intervals between kills made by packs of different sizes. Larger wolf packs did make more frequent kills, but not that much more frequent. For example, a pack of 8 wolves killed moose about once every 7 days while a wolf pair would kill a moose once every 9 days. In theory, larger wolf packs should make more kills because they have more mouths to feed.

The graph on the left shows that wolf pairs had a higher kill rate on a per capita basis. For example, wolf pairs killed .07 moose/wolf/day while in a pack of 10 the per capita kill rate was on .03 moose/wolf/day. The authors state that wolf pairs are forced to kill more moose on a per capital basis because they lose more of their carcasses to ravens.

The authors estimate that wolf pairs kill 27 moose each winter, packs of 6 wolves kill 35 moose each winter and packs of 10 kill 46 moose each winter.


[Image: HayesKillRates001.jpg]


Snow Depth Was Not A Significant Factor


The authors explicitly state that wolves were not aided to any significant degree by deep snow:

[Image: HayesSnowData001.jpg]

reddhole Wrote:Methodology

The study provided both the total moose and total caribou kills, the total biomass of prey killed, and the amount of biomass for each type of ungulate for each pack. So, for example if the data said "a wolf pack of 2 had 3 moose kills totaling 900 KG of biomass", I'd say they killed 2 adult cow moose (375 KG each) and 1 calf moose (150 kg). While its possible there are other potential allocations in some cases, I think its accurate for the most part. For example, in the study's total moose kill data set of 283 moose, 31% of moose killed were calves. In the smaller data set of 179 moose I worked with, 30.73% of moose killed were calves. Given the size of these numbers, I'd expect these to be very close. 

Here is the study's data I worked with:

[Image: HayesDataSet001.jpg]
[Image: HayesDataSet002.jpg]

Here is how I analyzed it, per the methodology above:

[Image: HayesTotalData006.jpg]
[Image: HayesTotalData005.jpg]

This is what is summarized in my previous post.

dasyurus Wrote:Excellent summary of that study Reddhole, and impressive predation by those wolves.

This is just an article related to Elk & Two wolf packs,  the Bow Valley pack and the Cascade-Fairholme pack of the Banff-Canmore area.

Wolves taking it easy on elk in Bow Valley

By Cathy Ellis 

Mar 01 2008

Two wolf packs in the Bow Valley seem to be faring well this winter, but don't seem to be putting a huge dent in the burgeoning elk population around the Banff townsite. 

There are currently thought to be approximately eight wolves in the Bow Valley pack and at least seven in the Cascade-Fairholme pack. Both wolf packs had five pups last summer. 

As for the Bow Valley pack, wolves are travelling through the Sulphur corridor, spending time south of Banff in the Spray Valley, as well as to the west along the Bow Valley Parkway. 

The Cascade-Fairholme pack has not been using the wildlife corridor below Cascade Mountain on the north side of the Trans-Canada Highway this winter, nor has any members in the pack crossed to the south side of the highway. 

There has, however, been a lone wolf using the corridor and crossing the highway quite regularly. Researchers have been able to detect this by monitoring tracks in the snow. 

"The Cascade-Fairholme Pack is travelling up and down the Cascade Valley, across the Fairholme and east as far as Harvie Heights, travelling back and forth quite regularly," said Jesse Whittington, a wildlife biologist for Banff National Park. 

"It seems the Cascade pack, especially, has been splitting up a lot this winter, sometimes travelling in larger groups, and sometimes travelling in smaller groups." 

In November, Parks Canada began an experiment that aimed to have wolves and cougars curb the numbers in Banff's burgeoning elk population, which has ballooned from 93 to 220 near the Banff townsite over the past three years. 

As part of that project, semi-permeable fences were built at five of the highway underpasses east and west of Banff to keep elk on the north side where they would be more susceptible to predation. 

The idea behind reducing the elk population is to avoid a situation in the 1990s, when urban elk attacked people in town and caused widespread environmental damage, affecting species such beavers and birds through over-browsing on vegetation. 

In December, though, about 100 elk stampeded through one of the new fences back to the south side of the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff, trying to seek a safe haven from cougars and wolves closer to the townsite. 

Parks Canada has struggled all winter to get the elk back to the north side of the highway, trying to herd the group several times. Earlier this month, about 85 elk finally headed to the north side voluntarily. 

Last week, three young bull elk broke one of rails on the fences again, but this time they broke through from the south side, wanting to join the 85 elk on the north side of the highway. 

Park officials hope the Cascade-Fairholme pack starts preying on the elk. 

"We don't know why the Cascade pack is not using the corridor this winter. Hopefully, eventually they will start using it," said Whittington. 

"It could be that they have enough prey out on the Fairholme and in the Cascade Valley area." 

There has also been a fair amount of cougar activity in the wildlife corridors in the Bow Valley this winter. 

There are estimated to be somewhere between six and eight wild cats in the Banff-Canmore area. 

There is one cougar with kittens using the Cascade wildlife corridor, and another with one kitten that regularly travels trough the Sulphur corridor and near the Banff Springs golf course. 

Yet another cougar with two kittens has been spending time near the Sunshine ski hill. There is also an aging male cougar travelling throughout the region. 

"It's good news that they're using the corridors," said Whittington. 

http://www.rockymountainoutlook.ca/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=128&cat=23&id=1166784&more=0
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
#9
221extra Wrote:Wolf Predation on Polar Bear cub.Article Excerpt
ABSTRACT. We describe the apparent predation of a polar bear (Ursus maritimus) cub by wolves (Canis lupus) on the sea ice just off the northwest coast of Banks Island, Northwest Territories, Canada. On 20 April 2004, while following the tracks of a female bear and two cubs-of-the-year in the snow during a helicopter survey, we noted that the bear tracks had been joined by several sets of wolf tracks. After following both sets of tracks for about 1 km, we observed a disturbed area in the snow with numerous overlying tracks. Upon landing and searching the site, we found the remains of a polar bear cub that the wolves had successfully separated from its mother and killed. This is only the second documented observation ever made of a polar bear killed by wolves. 
http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-...on-of.html

reddhole Wrote:The information is from the following study:

Source: Ballard, Whitman, and Gardner, "Ecology of an Exploited Wolf Population in South-Central Alaska", Wildlife Monographs 98 P 1-54

Wolf Pair Predation in In Winter - High Kill Rate and Many Adult Moose

The table below details a wolf pair and several wolf packs predation during winter from Alaska. 

[Image: BallardWolfPairKillData001.jpg]

As you can see the Tyrone River pair of wolves killed 5 adult moose (sex not disclosed) and 2 calves. They killed a greater percentage of adult moose than all of the other packs. Also, this pair had nearly the same kill rate as the other packs despite much lower food needs (i.e. fewer wolves to feed). This can be seen by the "adjusted days/kill" figure (standardized to include more adult moose), which shows that 1 kill was made every 10.8 days. The unadjusted days/kill is less for the wolf pair than the other packs because the wolf pair killed larger prey, and therefore killed prey less frequently. Using these figures, this pair would kill 10.98 moose/100 days. On an adjusted basis, this figure is 9.26 moose/100 days. As a comparison, adult male cougars in Alberta only had killed 4.4 moose/100 days in Alberta (and none of the moose were adults). Of course, that is just one study and perhaps it could be higher elsewhere.

Also, note the "KG Available/Wolf" figure - each wolf pair had more than double the amount of food available to them from the animals they killed than the wolves in larger packs. However, the problem they have is losing that meat to scavengers, such as ravens, when they leave the partially consumed carcass. Clearly, this wolf pair was able to kill large game as frequently as the larger packs.
 
Age and Condition of Adult Cow Moose in the Study - Not Bad

Unfortunately, the study did not specify the age and condition of the  moose killed in the table above. However, they did measure these for a sample of the animals killed in the entire study. Overall, adult cow moose killed by wolves were only slightly older on average than  the moose population in general (9.5 years old vs. 7.7 years old) and the marrow fat of wolf-killed adult moose (77%) was pretty high and similar to condition of adult cow moose in the population (79%).
This is discussed below:

[Image: BallardMarrowFat001.jpg]

[Image: BallardMarrowFat002.jpg]

Summer Wolf Predation - Pack of 3 Kills Frequently and Kills Adult Moose

The table below details predation and kill rates by several packs. 

[Image: BallardSummerWolfKillData001.jpg]

Unfortunately, the authors do not explicitly break out the types of ungulates killed, but it can be figured out. As you can see, the last pack - Wantana Creek Pack of 3 wolves - made 4 kills. The authors adjusted the total kills to "adult moose equivalents." This pack actually had the highest percentage of their kills as "adult moose equivalents." For example, if you divide 2.6 (adult moose equivalents) by 4 (total kills), this yields the highest percentage of any of the packs. 

Also, you can do some math and likely derive the makeup of this pack's kills. In the footnotes, they give various amounts of biomass consumed for different sized prey. For example, adult moose are considered to have 321 KG of edible biomass, yearling moose is 148 KG and caribou calves are considered to have 29 KG of biomass. If you multiply the KG/Prey/Wolf/Day (14.4) by the number of kills (4)  by the number of wolves in the pack (3), you come up with a figure of 821 KG of biomass consumed by this pack. This would just about equal 2 adult moose, 1 yearling moose and 1 caribou calf (its about 2 KG off likely due to rounding).

Also, this pack had the second highest kill rate as measured by the "adjusted days/kill" figure - 1 every 7.5 days. This pack had a kill rate of 13.33 ungulates/100 days on an adjusted basis (which is comparable to the type of prey killed in winter) and 20.833 on an unadjusted basis (likely higher because of ungulate calves are numerous in summer).

reddhole Wrote:Below is a study that shows a lone wolf frequently killing eurasian badgers.

Source: Hakan Sand, "Summer Kill Rates and Predation Patterns in Wolf-Moose System: Can We Rely on Estimates?", Oecologia,  February 14, 2008


The charts below detail several wolf groups, including their composition, and the prey they killed during winter. The kill data is based off of actual carcasses found. The number of yearlings/adults in each wolf group can be determined by subtracting the number in parentheses from the number not in parentheses in the "Total Group Size and Number of Pups Column." As you can see the wolf in the Glaskogen Territory was a lone wolf. In the chart below, you can see that this wolf killed 1 yearling moose and 5 eurasian badgers during the summer period. Now, the age of the badgers are not specified, but one must assume they must have been of a decent size since small prey (i.e. young badgers) would likely be completely consumed by a wolf and not found by researchers.

[Image: ScandinavianSummerWolfKillData001.jpg]

[Image: ScandinavianSummerWolfKillData002.jpg]

No adult moose were killed, but the authors attribute this to the following:

1) Dense moose population and small wolf population.  

2) Adult female moose in Scandinavia tend to not defend their calves well (i.e. they run off often) because wolves have been absent (or in low numbers) for years and the moose were hunted with bay dogs (i.e. moose that stood and defended their calves were shot).

As a result, wolves have no reason to hunt adult moose often in summer here because there are plenty of easy prey to kill. 


Other Studies Show Eurasian Badgers Occuring Frequently in Scandinavian Wolf Scat


Source:O.J. Olsson, "Wolf Predation on Moose and Roe Deer in South-Central Scandinavia", Wildlife Biology, 3:1, P 13-25, 1997.

The table below shows that 129 wolf scats had eurasian badger:

[Image: BadgerPredationScatNumbers001.jpg]

The author states that this equates to about 45-90 badgers killed for 5 wolves annually. Note how they say how difficult it is to find badger carcasses because of their small size. Thus, IMHO, a badger killed by a wolf is likely to be a larger one.

[Image: WolfPredationonBadgers001.jpg]

Similarly, the author assumed that each badger weighed 12 KG (adult-sized) in the scat:

[Image: BadgerWeights.jpg]

Other researchers (SKANDULV) in Scandinavia also found badgers in wolf scats (33 scats):

[Image: BadgerPredationScatStudy2ScatNumber.jpg]

reddhole Wrote:Wolves selected elk over deer. Among elk they selected calves and were more likely to kill bulls than cows.


"From 1998-2003, the IFT documented 72 confirmed or probable native ungulate kills made by wolves. In addition, wolves were documented to feed or scavenge on 28 native ungulates killed by other predators, hunters, vehicles, or natural causes. Of the 72 confirmed or probable kills, 90% (n = 65) were elk, indicating a strong preference for elk relative to ungulate species available (32% elk, and 68% deer [÷2 = 116.192, P < 0.001, df = 1]). Mexican wolves also killed mule deer (n = 4), white-tailed deer (n = 1), and bighorn sheep (n = 2). However, it was unknown if this preference for elk was simply a function of prey size (e.g. larger elk being easier for the IFT to find than deer due to consumption rates), or alternatively a ‘true’ selection. Further, areas used by wolves appeared to be in high-density elk areas on a state game management unit scale. Prey availabilities on a local scale were not available."

"Wolves selected for calf elk within the population (39% and 23% of kills and population, respectively), and selected against cow elk (47% and 60% of kills and population, respectively), while bulls were selected similar to availability (14% and 17% of kills and population, respectively; ÷2 = 5.098, P = 0.078, df = 2). This trend would likely be more significant if systematic locations of ungulate kills were more prevalent during the study because wolves appear to be selecting for smaller prey (e.g. calves that are presumably harder to locate) and against larger prey (e.g. cow elk). The preference for elk relative to deer was supported by a recent scat study (Reed 2004)."


It looks like most of the packs were pairs with pups given that the average pack size was 4.8 wolves and the average litter size was 2.1 pups.

Average litter size for wild conceived and wild born pups was 2.1 pups/litter (n = 16, range 1-5); far less than the average litter size of 4.2 -6.9 observed elsewhere (Fuller et al. 2003). The average number of wolves per pack (packs that had been in the wild for at least one year) was 4.8 (n = 16, range 2-11) based on autumn estimates.

http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanw...1Final.pdf

taipan Wrote:From Maze - Grey Wolf Skull Sizes

Quote:skull measurements of canadian wolves
[Image: skullmeasurement1.jpg]
[Image: skullmeasurement2.jpg]

Quote:[Image: skullmeasurement3.jpg]

taipan Wrote:Wolves Would Rather Eat Salmon

ScienceDaily (Sep. 1, 2008) — Although most people imagine wolves chasing deer and other hoofed animals, new research suggests that, when they can, wolves actually prefer fishing to hunting. The study shows that when salmon is available, wolves will reduce deer hunting activity and instead focus on seafood.

Chris Darimont from the University of Victoria and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Canada, led a team of researchers who studied the feeding habits of wolves in a remote 3,300km2 area of British Columbia. As Darimont describes, "Over the course of four years, we identified prey remains in wolf droppings and carried out chemical analysis of shed wolf hair in order to determine what the wolves like to eat at various times of year".

For most of the year, the wolves tend to eat deer, as one would expect. During the autumn, however, salmon becomes available and the wolves shift their culinary preferences. According to the authors, "One might expect that wolves would move onto salmon only if their mainstay deer were in short supply. Our data show that this is not the case, salmon availability clearly outperformed deer availability in predicting wolves' use of salmon."

This work gives researchers as much insight into salmon ecology as wolf ecology. Darimont's mentor and co-author Thomas Reimchen, also of the University of Victoria, admits, "Salmon continue to surprise us, showing us new ways in which their oceanic migrations eventually permeate entire terrestrial ecosystems. In terms of providing food and nutrients to a whole food web, we like to think of them as North America's answer to the Serengeti's wildebeest."

The authors explain that the wolves' taste for fishy fare is likely based on safety, nutrition and energetics. Darimont said, "Selecting benign prey such as salmon makes sense from a safety point of view. While hunting deer, wolves commonly incur serious and often fatal injuries. In addition to safety benefits we determined that salmon also provides enhanced nutrition in terms of fat and energy".

The research also warns that this already vestigial predator-prey relationship – one that once spread from California to Alaska – might not be around forever. Darimont cautions, "There are multiple threats to salmon systems, including overexploitation by fisheries and the destruction of spawning habitats, as well as diseases from exotic salmon aquaculture that collectively have led to coast-wide declines of up to 90% over the last century".

[Image: 080901205633-large.jpg]
Although most people imagine wolves chasing deer and other hoofed animals, new research suggests that, when they can, wolves actually prefer fishing to hunting.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Journal reference:

Chris T Darimont, Paul C Paquet and Thomas E Reimchen. Spawning salmon disrupt trophic coupling between wolves and ungulate prey in coastal British Columbia. BMC Ecology, (in press) 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/200...205633.htm
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
#10
taipan Wrote:Yellowstone's packs sometimes attack the toughest prey in the park - bison

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By BRETT FRENCH
The Billings Gazette

BILLINGS, Mont. -- It's not easy being a bison-eating wolf in Yellowstone National Park.

"Why get your head bashed in if you can take an elk," said Doug Smith, leader of the Yellowstone Wolf Project. "They have to have the deck stacked in their favor."

Yet in the winter, one pack in particular, Mollie's pack, has few other options. Elk migrate out of the wolves' range -- the Pelican Valley in the east-central portion of the park -- leaving only bison as large prey. That means the pack either has to migrate or adapt to kill bison. Mollie's adapted.

"Mollie's eats nothing but bison in the winter," Smith said. "How they kill them is fascinating to watch. They chase them into deep snow. They harass and harass and harass them until they chase them off of windblown ridges into a gully and all jump on them."

In general, such kills take a long time because the wolves have to "juke and jive" to avoid being kicked or gored by the bison. One bison kill documented by the team took more than nine hours.

"They attack the back, not the front," Smith said. "It's a dirty job."

For that reason, they prefer prey that runs away. Animals like bison that typically stand their ground may be more intimidating to the wolves, and they quickly lose interest.

"They hate things that stand their ground," Smith said. "This may sound bad, but they're cowards. We think 95 percent of the things they kill are fleeing. Things not fleeing that they kill are weak, have a broken leg or are starving."

He recounted seeing one bison churning through deep snow as wolves jumped up and grabbed on to its neck. Once the bison hit a bare patch of ground, it shook its massive head and the wolves went flying. Another researcher saw a bison kick and kill a wolf. And the Mollie's pack alpha female was spotted hobbling around on a broken leg, possibly from a run-in with a bison.

"One of the biggest topics of wolf research is what they kill and why," Smith said. "They're not going to kill a bison unless it has a problem. They tend to be pretty selective with elk, too, but occasionally they will kill a healthy elk. Not so with bison."

Bison packs

Two other packs have also adapted to opportunistic killing of bison -- the Cougar Creek and Gibbon Meadows packs on the west-central side of the park. They don't take as many bison as Mollie's pack. Common to all of the packs is that 95 percent of bison taken by wolves are killed in the winter. The more severe the winter, the more bison wolves will kill. Come summer, the wolves switch back to preying on elk, which are more abundant and easier to kill.

Overall, bison are a small part of the Yellowstone wolves' diet, and wolf kills make no dent in the bison population. Out of 323 wolf kills documented by the park's staff in 2007, only 11 (3.4 percent) were bison. Of those kills, six were calves, three were bulls and two were adults of unknown sex.

There's only one area left in North America where wolves make a living eating mostly bison -- the Wood Buffalo National Park and nearby Slave River Lowlands in Canada. Bison there make up 80 to 90 percent of the wolves' diet. In other areas where bison are present, such as the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary in Canada, wolves would rather kill moose than bison, even though bison are more abundant.

"Bison may be the most difficult to kill of all prey items," Smith said, more so than a moose or even a musk ox.

Yet years ago, when bison freely roamed North America by the thousands, wolves likely ate a lot of bison.

"North America pre-European settlement was a bison-wolf economy," Smith said. "The percentage of wolves that lived off of bison I'll bet was 60 to 70 percent. Now, it's less than 1 percent. Now, the only wolves that eat bison in North America are here and in Wood Park. Wolves in the McKenzie game sanctuary eat bison occasionally, but they prefer moose. When they can pick, they pick moose.

"Those are the three main areas, which is kind of sad."

Given that the plains wolves were exterminated, wolves in Yellowstone did not learn their skill culturally; they had to relearn the process in the park, Smith said, proving how adaptable the animals are to killing new prey.

Wolves in history

Wolves that used to follow bison herds to feed were probably much bigger than the wolves of today, Smith said, noting that "you had to be big to kill bison."

Such a scenario goes against a classic zoology standard called Bergmann's rule, which says that an animal's body mass increases with colder climate conditions and the higher the latitude at which it lives. Smith said wolves of the central Plains were probably the biggest wolves because of bison. Those wolves may have weighed as much as 170 pounds.

Not surprisingly, some of the biggest wolves in Yellowstone are in Mollie's pack. Out of the 350 wolves that have been weighed in Yellowstone National Park since their reintroduction in 1995-96, only 10 weighed more than 130 pounds, Smith said. Half of those big wolves were found in Mollie's pack. One Mollie's pack wolf is the biggest weighed so far, tipping the scales at 142 pounds. But the wolf had about 10 to 15 pounds of meat in its stomach when trapped, Smith added.

"The Mollie's are among the biggest wolves we handle in the park," he said. "They're just a bigger, more robust animal."

It only makes sense, Smith said. As former park scientist John Varley once told him, "Only the big wolves survive. If you're not big and strong, you're not going to live."

Especially if you're a wolf that hunts bison, Varley could have added.

Average pack

Mollie's pack is about average in number compared with the park's 10 packs, totaling nine adults and five pups when counts were taken last winter. But Smith said it's a pack stacked deeply with four big, adult males. The alpha male, number 586, is 6 to 8 years old.

"Their pack retains more big males more so than other packs," he said. "We're seeing that adult male wolves are key in killing bull elk and bison."

In killing bison, the more big males the better, Smith said, whereas in packs that kill elk, "You do best killing elk if you have one big male. It does not matter if you have two or three."

Male wolves bulk up at age 3 but don't achieve their maximum body size until they're between the ages of 4 and 5, Smith said. Adult males probably have little time to enjoy their beefy stature, however, since the average age of death for Yellowstone wolves is 5.

The payoff

Because there's a lot of work that goes into killing a bison, it's important that the payoff is worthwhile. In the case of a full-grown bull that can weigh up to a ton, the benefit can be some serious snacking. Even a smaller bison offers a lot of meat, meaning that other predators quickly take notice. Wolf kills of bison are often overtaken by grizzly bears.

"Every kill that we document from March to October is taken over by grizzly bears," Smith said.

Wolves may tolerate a bear's usurping their kill, or they may try to annoy it so much that it leaves.

"They peck and poke and the bear gets annoyed and leaves," Smith said. "But 80 percent of the time the bears win."

Adult female grizzly bears with cubs of the year are at a disadvantage in taking over kills, since they have to protect the cub, which wolves will kill if given the chance. November through February, though, the bears are hibernating, so wolves get the meat largely to themselves.

That's probably important for wolves. Recent studies are showing that the summer months can be arduous for Yellowstone's wolf packs.

"Essentially what's emerging is that summer is a hard time for a wolf," Smith said, as their prey disperses throughout the 2.2-million-acre park. "I think if we trapped them in the summer we'd see pretty lean wolves."

Kerry Gunther, bear management biologist for the park, said the introduction of wolves has helped bears by providing carcasses throughout the year, instead of just in the spring when animals drop from winterkill. When crops such as whitebark pine nuts are thin, the bears turn to wolves to provide carcasses as a supplement.

"Overall, I'd say it's a positive for the bears," Gunther said.

Although bull bison would make a hearty meal, they are rarely killed by wolves. More typically, wolves kill bison cows and calves. Bison bulls are more likely to die when they gore each other during the summer rut, or from natural causes such as disease, starvation or injury.

Only time will tell if Yellowstone's wolves - especially Mollie's pack - continue to adapt until they're more efficient bison killers, or if they foster a bigger genetic subculture of wolves better-suited to killing bison. One thing is already clear, though: The park's wolves quickly dispelled researcher's predictions that it would take several years for wolves to learn to kill bison, their most formidable prey. The first documented wolf kill of a bison occurred 25 months after wolves were released.

http://www.jacksonholestartrib.com/artic...20fba7.txt

reddhole Wrote:Video clips of wolf predation in Yellowstone:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqkBX2oGWOw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8wrtk_4rLQ&feature=related

reddhole Wrote:
Quote:Summary:: The data below shows that wolf pairs regularly kill adult moose in reasonable condition (at least based on nutritional condition) without the advantage of deep snow.

Source: Hayes, Baer, Wotschikowsky and Harestad, "Kill Rate by Wolves on Moose in the Yukon", Canadian Journal of Zoology, 78: P 49-59, 2000


Wolf Pairs Killed Many Adult Moose

Below is data about wolf kills and pack size extracted from the study. Unfortunately, the study did not explicitly break this out and I had to do some analysis to derive it. For those interested in how I did this, please read my next post.

Wolf pairs killed 49 ungulates, which was 24.38% of the ungulates killed by all packs. Wolf pairs killed 47 moose, 22 of which were adults (2 cows, 2 bulls, 18 adults of unknown sex), 2 yearlings and 23 calves (which weigh 150 KG at this time of year). 47% of their moose kills were adults as compared to 56% of kills made by all of the packs. However, the other packs data seems skewed from a couple of large packs that made many adult moose kills (to be expected based on their greater food requirements) and wolf pairs had adult moose make up a greater proportion of their kills than many larger packs.

[Image: HayesWolfKillsSummary003-1.jpg]

[Image: HayesWolfKillsSummary005.jpg]


Age, Sex, and Condition of the Moose - Does Not Appear Bad
 

Unfortunately, the researchers did not track this data for all kills, but they did compile it for a sample. IMHO, since wolf pairs killed nearly a quarter of the ungulates, this should be similar to the ungulates they killed.

The average age of adult moose killed was 8.9 years. I would generally consider a moose over 10 to be old. However, moose antler size does not reach it maximum size until this age - so these may in fact be very strong animals. Moose can live to 20 years or more.

Wolves killed 28 adult cows and 18 bulls. However, cows often outnumber bulls (due to human hunting), and the authors do not mention any selectivity for sex by the wolves.

The average marrow fat of adult moose killed was 77%, which is not bad. I've seen figures of 70% and 80% used as an indicator of subpar nutritional condition. Of course, something else could have been wrong with these animals.


[Image: HayesMooseAgeSexandConditon001.jpg]

Below are distributions of the ages and nutritional condition of adult moose killed. Notice that moose of every age were killed, but there was an emphasis on slightly older ones. You can also seen most of the adult moose killed had marrow fat levels higher than 70% and 80%.

[Image: HayesMooseDistribution001.jpg]

Kill Rates - Wolf Pairs Regularly Killed Moose

The graph on the right shows the intervals between kills made by packs of different sizes. Larger wolf packs did make more frequent kills, but not that much more frequent. For example, a pack of 8 wolves killed moose about once every 7 days while a wolf pair would kill a moose once every 9 days. In theory, larger wolf packs should make more kills because they have more mouths to feed.

The graph on the left shows that wolf pairs had a higher kill rate on a per capita basis. For example, wolf pairs killed .07 moose/wolf/day while in a pack of 10 the per capita kill rate was on .03 moose/wolf/day. The authors state that wolf pairs are forced to kill more moose on a per capital basis because they lose more of their carcasses to ravens.

The authors estimate that wolf pairs kill 27 moose each winter, packs of 6 wolves kill 35 moose each winter and packs of 10 kill 46 moose each winter.


[Image: HayesKillRates001.jpg]


Snow Depth Was Not A Significant Factor


The authors explicitly state that wolves were not aided to any significant degree by deep snow:

[Image: HayesSnowData001.jpg]


For those that are interested, the full study in this thread
is available here (Chapter 2):

http://ir.lib.sfu.ca/bitstream/1892/8070...573907.pdf

Of particular interest is the section below. Basically, they are determining if the moose killed by wolves would have likely
survived and reproduced ("additive predation") or not ("compensatory predation").  If a moose is in horrible
condition (i.e. very old and/or terrible condition), it would not
live on and reproduce. As you can see below, 21 out of the 27
adult moose would have likely lived and reproduced if they
were not killed by wolves.

Gasaway et al. (1992) argued moose mortality could be divided into 3 classes:

1. largely additive if moose are not severely malnourished (> 20% bone  marrow fat for adults, > 10% bone marrow fat for calves) nor very old (bulls < 12 and cows < 15 years-old).; 2) largely compensatory if they are very old; and 3. compensatory if wolf-killed moose are severely malnourished. I found that neither calf or adult moose were severely malnourished, but a high percent of calves were in low-nutritional condition. These lower fat values can be explained by the higher energetic requirement of calves growth in winter (Peterson et al., 1984). Therefore, using calf marrow fat value is not useful to determine the general condition of a moose population. A total of 21 of 27 adults (77%) were in the largely additive age class. The remaining 6 were old adults and thus were largely compensatory mortalities. My nutrition and age data are  consistent with the hypothesis that wolf predation on moose is mainly additive when prey are increasing.

Here is a more readable chart that I posted before:

[Image: Hayes11995WolfKillDataClear001Corre.jpg]

[Image: Hayes11995WolfKillDataClear002Corre.jpg]

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

[Image: 090205-wolf-coat-colors_big.jpg]
Light- and dark-furred pups howl in Indiana's Wolf Park in an undated picture.
A sprinkling of dog genes thousands of years ago may have given North American gray wolves a "selective advantage" by giving some of them darker coats, a February 2009 study says.


ScienceDaily (Feb. 5, 2009) — Slipping through trees or across snow, the wolf has glided into legend on paws of white, gray or — in North America — even black. This last group owes an unexpected debt to the cousins of the domestic dog, say Stanford researchers. In an unconventional evolutionary twist, dogs that bred with wolves thousands of years ago ceded a genetic mutation encoding dark coat color to their former ancestors. As a result, the Gray Wolf, or Canis lupus, is no longer just gray.

The effect was more than just cosmetic: the resulting black wolves, which are found nearly exclusively in North America, seem to have a selective advantage over lighter-colored wolves in forested areas. It's a rare instance of domestic animals — in this case, probably the dogs of the earliest Native Americans — contributing to the genetic variability of their wild counterparts in a way that affects both the recipients' appearance and survival.

"We usually think of domestication as something that is carried out to benefit humans," said genetics professor Greg Barsh, MD, PhD. "So we were really surprised to find that domestic animals can serve as a genetic reservoir that can benefit the natural populations from which they were derived. It's also fascinating to think that a portion of the first Native American dogs, which are now extinct, may live on in wolves." Canine geneticists generally agree that North American dogs today are all descended from European dogs.

Barsh and graduate student Tovi Anderson collaborated with, among others, scientists at the University of California-Los Angeles, the University of Calgary, the National Park Service at Yellowstone National Park and the National Human Genome Research Institute to conduct the research. Scientists from Sweden and Italy also participated in the international effort.

Anderson and her collaborators compared DNA collected from 41 black, white and gray wolves in the Canadian Arctic and 224 black and gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park with that of domestic dogs and gray and black coyotes. Their intention was to build on previous work in the Barsh lab that identified a mechanism controlling pigmentation in dogs that differs from most other mammals.

"We expected this to be a short research project to confirm that wolves and dogs shared the same genetic pathway that determines black coat color," said Anderson. "But the story got much more interesting when we expanded our research and began asking about the origin of the mutation in wolves."

Dark-coated wolves are significantly more prevalent in forested areas of the Canadian Arctic than they are in the icy tundra (62% vs. 7% of the total population, respectively). Biologists have long suspected that something about having black fur is particularly advantageous for the woodland wolves, but they weren't sure what. Because black wolves gray with age, it seems that the root cause might be deeper than just coat color.

Barsh's laboratory, which has spent years studying genes affecting coat color and other biological pathways in mammals, discovered in 2007 that the gene responsible for black fur in dogs, called beta-defensin, belongs to a family of genes previously believed to be involved in fighting infection. One version of the gene produces light or yellow-colored dogs and wolves; a mutant version missing three nucleotides produces black animals.

"Wildlife biologists don't really think that wolves rely much on camouflage to protect themselves or to increase their hunting success," said Barsh. "It's possible there is something else going on here. For example, the protein responsible for the coat color difference has been implicated, in humans, in inflammation and infection, and therefore might give black animals an advantage that is distinct from its effect on pigmentation."

Although the "why" of this selective advantage remains a mystery, the "how" is becoming more clear. Anderson's study confirmed that the black-coat gene shows evidence of positive selection in forest wolves. She also showed that the gene is dominant, meaning that an animal with only one copy of the gene would still have a black coat. Ten of fourteen pups of a mating between a black wolf and a gray wolf carried the gene and were black.

She and her collaborators used a variety of genetic tests to determine that the mutation was likely introduced into wolves by dogs sometime in the last 10,000 to 15,000 years, about the same time the first Americans were migrating across the Bering land bridge. These humans were probably accompanied by dogs, some of which carried the black-coat mutation estimated to have arisen about 50,000 years ago. The rest, as they say, was history.

"It may have been easier for dogs to interact with wolves in North America than in Europe," said Anderson. "There was probably a higher concentration of wolves, and the dogs, like the humans, were more migratory."

Unfortunately, it's not yet possible to tell whether there were any black wolves prior to the domestication of dogs. It may be that the mutation arose in the wolf population prior to the domestication of the dog somewhere between 15,000 and 40,000 years ago and then died out in the wild. Alternatively, it may have made its first appearance in a domestic dog and never entered the wild until the Native Americans migrated from Europe. Regardless, it's the seemingly beneficial aspect of the mutation coupled with its origin that has the researchers excited.

"This is a mutation that had been cultivated by humans in the form of the domestic dog for thousands of years," said Anderson. "Now we see that it not only entered the wild population, but also is benefiting them." The researchers speculate that the loss of the wolves' tundra habitat may encourage the spread of the black-coat gene even further. They're interested in finding out exactly how the mutation works to help forest wolves.

The research underscores the idea that evolution may involve other instances in which traits are passed in unexpected directions. "We now know that dogs have been the caretakers of a genetic legacy that may be very beneficial to wolves," said Barsh. "It should lead us to think more broadly as to how this might apply to other animals and plants."

With tundra habitat expected to decline in coming years due to northern expansion of boreal forests related to global warming, the researchers note that black coloring may also help gray wolves adapt to their changing environment.

"It is somewhat ironic that a trait that was created by humans may now prove to be beneficial for wolves as they deal with human-caused changes to their habitat,"  said Marco Musiani, an internationally-recognized expert on wolves and a professor in the University of Calgary's Faculty of Environmental Design, who was one of the researchers.

Barsh and Anderson's Stanford collaborators include Hua Tang, PhD, assistant professor of genetics, and Sophie Candille, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the Tang lab. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Swedish Research Council.

[Image: 090205142137-large.jpg]
Black wolves dominate packs in the forests of North America, while white wolves are more numerous in the treeless tundra.

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Journal reference:

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

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/200...142137.htm

taipan Wrote:It's a wolf-eat-wolf world in the wilds of Alaska
By Tim Mowry 

Originally published Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 9:34 a.m.


FAIRBANKS - For all the controversy and headlines that Alaska’s aerial wolf control program generates, the real killer of wolves in the Last Frontier escapes the spotlight.

Wolves — not hunters, trappers or government-permitted sharpshooters in Super Cubs — kill most of the wolves that die in Alaska each year.

“Intra-specific strife is common,” is how Fairbanks wildlife biologist Craig Gardner puts it, after 22 years studying wolves and other critters for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “Wolves kill wolves.”

Gardner, who also traps, estimates that about half the wolves that die each year in Alaska are killed by other wolves.

According to estimates from the Department of Fish and Game, there are anywhere from 7,000 to 10,000 wolves roaming Alaska. In an average year, about 1,250 are killed through hunting, trapping and predator control.

Fellow biologist Tom Meier, who studies wolves in Denali National Park and Preserve, figures that “at least” 60 percent of the wolves that die in Alaska’s most famous national park are killed by their canid cousins.

“That, by far, is the most common cause of death,” he said.

The number would probably be higher than 60 percent, Meier said, but biologists have a hard time determining how some wolves die because “by the time we get to the carcass, there’s not enough left to figure out how they died,” he said.

“Some of those are probably killed by wolves, too,” Meier said.

The park service tries to keep radio collars on at least two wolves — usually the alpha male and female — in each of park’s 18 wolf packs, which enables biologists to track different packs for research. The packs in Denali Park range from three to 20 wolves, and the total population is about 100 wolves.

“We have to put out 20 (collars) a year because so many do get killed,” Meier said.

Fang wars

Wolf packs in Alaska may be a symbol of true wilderness to many people, but in some respects they resemble inner-city gangs.

Each wolf pack has a pair of leaders, the alpha male and female. Each pack has a territory, or turf, it marks and defends. Fights between packs are common — and often deadly.

In the past two years, Gardner has documented several fights between wolf packs on the Tanana Flats south of Fairbanks while tracking roughly a dozen wolf packs as part of a study examining lice on wolves in the area. Gardner didn’t actually witness the fights, only the aftermath in the form of dead, radio-collared wolves he picked up or injured wolves he spotted from the air.

“There have been some pretty good rumbles,” Gardner said.

The latest brawl occurred in October between the Clear Creek Butte and Tatlanika packs. Judging from what he can piece together from his tracking flights, the Tatlanika Pack traveled more than 40 miles out of its territory to end up where it did.

The alpha male and female in the Clear Creek Butte Pack, both of which were wearing radio collars, were killed in the fight, Gardner said. While it’s impossible to say how many wolves were killed in the fight, it appeared both packs suffered significant losses. There are six wolves unaccounted for in the Tatlanika Pack, Gardner said.

“All we know is they left with 15 wolves three or four days before the fight and they came home with nine,” Gardner said of the Tatlanika Pack.

The Clear Creek Butte pack, meanwhile, had decreased from 13 to nine wolves, he said.

“It looks like a bomb went off in both of them,” the biologist said. “I’ve never seen it where it looked like a hockey fight. It looked like they all just dropped their gloves and went at it.”

Bite to kill

More often than not, it’s the alpha males or females that are killed “because they’re the ones out front doing the fighting,” Meier said.

Danny Grangaard, a former wildlife technician for the Department of Fish and Game in Tok who is considered one of the state’s most expert wolf trappers, agreed.

“You rarely see anything but the dominant male or female dead,” he said.

Big wolf packs pick fights more than smaller packs, too, Grangaard said.

“When you get a big pack they’re a lot more aggressive than a small pack,” he said.

Big packs have more big wolves and it’s typically the big males that do much of the fighting, Grangaard said.

“If you’ve got a small pack, you won’t have two big males,” he said. “But if you get a pack of 16 or 17, there’s going to be two or three 120- or 130-pound males.”

Typically, wolves that are killed in fights are not torn to shreds.

“They’re not all ripped apart, but if you skin them there’s all kinds of hemorrhaging (from bite marks),” Meier said.

Both Meier and Grangaard have found dead wolves with teeth holes in their skulls as a result of fights. Nearly all the male wolves Grangaard has found dead from fights have holes in their skulls from canine teeth.

“It’s always just one bite in the head and a skull fracture,” he said. “There ain’t no bite marks on the necks or shoulders.

“Their intention is to kill, not get in a fight,” Grangaard said. “When they bite, it’s some place that’s going to do damage.”

Grangaard has come across the aftermath of several wolf fights over the years, both while trapping wolves and tracking them for the Department of Fish and Game. The fights don’t appear to last long, he said.

“You look at the tracks in snow and I’ll bet that fight lasts two minutes,” Grangaard said. “There’s very few tracks and a wolf laying there dead.”

Defending their turf

It’s all about territory.

Fights between wolf packs usually occur when one pack trespasses into another pack’s territory, which happens often, according to biologists who track wolves.

Most of the time, wolf packs do what they can to avoid each other, which is why they continually mark their territories, Gardner said.

But sometimes wolf packs get so big they tend to make large movements out of their territories, he said. They go on a one- or two-week foray — or “holiday,” as Gardner put it — and end up bumping into another pack. Most fights happen on the edges of territories, he said.

At the same time, Gardner has seen packs of wolves almost deliberately cross into another pack’s territory.

It doesn’t appear their movements into other territories is driven by a lack of food. Even wolves with plenty to eat in their own area will pack up every now and then and explore a neighboring pack’s territory, he said.

Independent wolf researcher Gordon Haber, who has studied wolves in Denali Park for more than 40 years, calls them “extraterritorial forays.” Haber said wolves are constantly “probing” adjacent territories and it doesn’t take them long to pick up on vacancies, which they are quick to take advantage of.

“It doesn’t take them more than a few weeks or even days for them to pick up on that,” Haber said.

Neither does it take long for wolf packs to detect intruders in their territories.

“I’ve always been impressed by how fast resident wolves can detect it and from how far away,” Haber said.

He has seen instances where a neighboring pack crosses into another pack’s territory and the resident pack picks up on it from 10 miles away, even though the wind is blowing in the wrong direction to pick up their scent.

Several years ago, Haber witnessed two wolf packs meet on the Denali Park Road in what he was sure was going to be a fight as he was tracking wolves in an airplane.

“They just milled around each other all huffed up,” he said. “It was the strangest thing. We figured we were going to see fur and blood fly everywhere.”

Hungry country

Cannibalism among wolves is not uncommon, either.

While Meier has never seen wolves kill members of their own packs, he has seen wolves cannibalize pack mates after they are killed by other wolves or die for other reasons. He recalled an incident several years ago in which 6-month-old pups ate their parents after the older wolves were killed in a fight.

It’s not unusual for trappers to find wolves they’ve caught eaten by other wolves, especially when they are caught in snares, Grangaard said. Surprisingly, that’s not the case with wolves caught in leg-hold traps, Grangaard said, perhaps because the trapped wolves are still alive when other wolves arrive on scene.

“I’ve had a lot of heads hanging in snares, where the whole body has been eaten,” he said, recalling one winter when he lost nine trapped wolves to cannibalism.

Once, Grangaard said, he interrupted a wolf eating another wolf he had snared.

“When he heard me coming he took off and hit another snare,” he said.

In recent years, Meier said, he has seen more wolves being eaten after they are killed.

“Last winter, just about every wolf we went to check out was eaten,” he said. “I don’t think they’re killing them to eat them. They’re killing them for the territory.”

http://newsminer.com/news/2009/feb/19/canid-carnage/

[Image: wolf-fight-weselmann.jpg]
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
#11
taipan Wrote:Bigger is better if you're a hungry wolf

By BRETT FRENCH
Of The Gazette Staff

In almost all aspects, heft leads to success for wolves hunting elk, according to a study of Yellowstone National Park's packs.

"Overall, being bigger is better because when a wolf does catch an elk there's a better chance of bringing it down," said Daniel MacNulty, a research associate with the University of Minnesota.

The tradeoff for bigger wolves is that they're not as fast or as quick to maneuver.

MacNulty was the lead author on the research published recently in the British Journal of Animal Ecology. The study, written in conjunction with Doug Smith, David Mech and Lynn Eberly, was based on observations of 94 wolves hunting elk in Yellowstone between 1995 and 2003. Elk provide about 92 percent of the wolves' diet in the park. Multiyear study
"This is just one aspect of a multiyear study on wolf hunting," said Smith, Yellowstone's lead wolf biologist. "What we're looking at are the fine evolutionary details."

Smith called the work groundbreaking because it's based on so many observations of actual wolf kills, something that wasn't possible before wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995.

"This is cutting-edge stuff," he said.

There are three different phases of a successful wolf hunt - attacking, selecting and killing. An attack begins when wolves approach and then run after an elk herd. Selecting involves singling an individual out of the herd based on its vulnerability. The killing involves a burst of speed to grab the elk and then the strength to wrestle it down.

The faster, sleeker wolves - up to about 85 pounds - were better at chasing prey. As a wolf's weight increased above 85 pounds, it became less efficient at pursuit, Smith said.

"But as you get bigger, you get better at the later stages of the hunt, taking and killing," he added.

When fully grown, a male wolf is on average 25 percent larger than a female. It takes four to five years for wolves to reach their maximum size, even though they are 80 percent grown by the end of a year to a year-and-a-half. After age 5, male wolves' size tends to decline but females' mass keeps increasing.

Earlier research has shown that packs with big males were more successful hunting than those with no big males. But packs with two big males don't seem to be more successful when hunting elk than those with one big male.

That's not the case when hunting bison. Because bison are bigger prey and harder to bring down, Yellowstone's Mollie's Pack, which relies on killing bison in the winter to eat, has more big males than any pack in the park.

"You need multiple big males with bison," Smith said.

MacNulty said it would be interesting to research the differences between wolves whose main prey is the fleet-footed antelope from those whose primary prey is bison. Would the antelope-chasing wolves be smaller-bodied?

Specialization

Other animals, such as African lions, exhibit a similar distribution of hunting tasks. Lionesses, which are smaller, are better at hunting faster prey that requires speedy pursuit. Big males, on the other hand, are better at taking larger prey that requires grappling.

It's possible, too, that the size vs. speed difference can help explain the extinction of large ancient predators such as the dire wolf. The dire wolf went extinct about 11,500 years ago. Fossil evidence indicates that although similar in size to the modern wolf, its legs were shorter and stouter and its teeth and head were much larger, possibly meaning it relied on scavenging.

"Larger dogs would have faced greater difficulty hunting smaller, faster prey because of their size," MacNulty said. "So there's some evidence that being big limits the range of available prey to you."

So although there's an advantage to size, there's also an advantage in being not too big.

"The wolves in Yellowstone are not near that limit," MacNulty said.

[Image: 30-bigger.jpg]
Weighing 143 pounds, this male from Mollie's Pack was caught on Jan. 15 in Yellowstone National Park's Pelican Valley. The wolf is the heaviest ever weighed in the park. Posing with the wolf is volunteer Erin Albers.

[Image: 30-bigger_2.jpg]
A bison fends off wolves near Slough Creek in Yellowstone National Park.

[Image: 30-bigger_3.jpg]
Wolves from Mollie's Pack attack a bison in February 2005 in Yellowstone National Park.

[Image: 30-bigger_4.jpg]
Wolves from the Druid Pack chase a bull elk in December 2007.

[Image: 30-bigger_5.jpg]
Two wolves from the Leopold Pack chase a bull elk in March that has shed its antlers.

Largest Yellowstone wolf captured

In January, Yellowstone National Park wolf researchers captured the largest wolf to date, a 143-pound male member of Mollie's Pack.

Mollie's Pack, which inhabits Pelican Valley, contains some of the largest wolves in the park. The wolves feed primarily on bison in the winter, so big males are needed to bring the large beasts down.

The black male, No. 495, was captured on a bison kill, so it likely had about five pounds of meat in its stomach, said Doug Smith, Yellowstone's wolf biologist.

"He looked like a small black bear," Smith said. "He's the biggest in over 300 captures."

Wolf No. 6 of Mollie's Pack was the record holder until this year. He weighed in at 141 pounds 10 years ago and likely had about 20 pounds of meat in his stomach, Smith said. 

http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/...bigger.txt

taipan Wrote:Coastal wolves are ‘like no other wolves’: study

By Judith Lavoie, Canwest News ServiceMarch 10, 2009 11:01 PM

VICTORIA — They have red-tinted hair, instead of grey, eat fish along with meat, and love to island-hop.

That makes coastal wolves, found from Vancouver Island to southern Alaska, unique in behaviour, looks, diet and genetic makeup, an international study has found.

The Raincoast Conservation Foundation study, led by Violeta Munoz-Fuentes of Uppsala University, Sweden — with scientists from the Smithsonian Institution, University of Victoria, University of Calgary and University of California — will be published in this month’s Journal of Biogeography.

“They are like no other wolves. The genetic differences are striking and their ecology is very, very different. It’s so cool,” said Chris Darimont, of the University of California, Santa Cruz, whose UVic doctorate is on wolf populations.

After five years of collecting wolf droppings, then studying genetics, scientists found coastal wolves have adapted to the temperate rain-forest environment, and have evolved into a different type of animal from their Arctic relatives and their grey-coated cousins across the Rocky Mountains.

“It shows statistically that genetic differences are driven by a different ecological environment,” Darimont said.

Coastal wolves should be recognized as an Evolutionarily Significant Unit that deserves protection and special conservation status, the study concludes.

As ecology has driven genetic differences, it makes a case for much stronger protection of B.C.’s coastal and old-growth forests, said Darimont. He also cannot understand why wolves — a species extremely sensitive to environmental change — are not used by the province as a focal species in land-use planning.

Instead of relying on large deer or elk for food, as do other wolf populations, coastal wolves have only small, black-tailed deer on their meat menu, so they turn to seafood.

“They eat spawning salmon, beached whales, and even kill seals and seal pups. They are so adaptable and such smart creatures. They know how to make a living off marine resources,” Darimont said.

On the outer islands, about three-quarters of their diet comes from the ocean, he said.

“That’s just spectacular for a terrestrial animal. They are truly island wolves. They swim between foraging patches on islands, such as in the Broken Group or Clayoquot Sound. We are saying, tongue-in-cheek, that this is our newest marine mammal,” Darimont said.

Coastal wolves are smaller than other populations, probably because the prey is smaller, the study found.

“Many individuals have a really gorgeous, browny-red tinge. They blend perfectly into the reddish-brown algae on the coast. They look as if they’ve been dipped in reddy-brown paint,” Darimont said.

No accurate figures are available, but there are probably “a couple of thousand” coastal wolves and they face increasing threats from loss of habitat, depletion of salmon stocks and trophy-hunting, he said.

Paul Paquet, one of the study’s authors, describes some wolf habitat in B.C., including much of Vancouver Island, as a “wilderness ghetto” with tree farms instead of old-growth forest and roads intersecting forest, meaning increased hunting and trapping.

Resident hunters require no special permits for wolves, with a limit of three a year, and trappers have no bag limits.

“It’s laissez-faire management dominated by hunters,” said Darimont, adding it’s hard to shake the Little Red Riding Hood image, which is reflected in the province’s wolf management.

Environment ministry spokeswoman Kate Thompson said staff have not yet had a chance to look at the study.

“We need an opportunity to review it,” she said.

http://www.canada.com/Technology/Coastal...story.html

"Coastal Wolves" - seperate subspecies of Grey Wolf?
jwb187 Wrote:Pet dog was a wolf

A Chinese man was shocked to discover that the pet dog he had raised from a pup was actually a wolf.



Mr Li, of Xi?an, said he found the shivering puppy in the mountains on an excursion last year and brought it home.

He built it a den in a clearing in his village, fed it and took it for walks, reports Huashang Daily.

"I took it for a walk every day after work, and it grew very close to me," Mr Li said.

But local residents grew suspicious after hearing a wolf howl close to their homes during the night.

"I never dared to let my child to go out alone at night after we started hearing the wolf," said one resident.

Police were informed and, after coming out to see the 'dog' for themselves, called in an expert from a local wildlife centre.

The expert confirmed the pet was definitely a wolf with the obvious characteristics that it never barked and had a thick fur coat and tail. It has now been taken in by Qinling Zoo.

A surprised Mr Li commented: "It looks very much like a dog to me. I would never have suspected that it was a wolf."

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_3207514.html

taipan Wrote:Researcher: Yellowstone wolves distinct
With influence by humans not a factor, packs have older, experienced hunter


Story Discussion RUFFIN PREVOST Gazette Wyoming Bureau | Posted: Friday, October 2, 2009 12:15 am | (12) Comments

CODY - Ongoing research on wolves in Yellowstone National Park continues to yield new information about how the animals hunt and how their pack dynamics differ from those of packs in the rest of North America.

"How wolves function in this tri-state area is very different from how they function in the far north of Canada," said Doug Smith, the biologist in charge of the Yellowstone Wolf Project.

Smith spoke Thursday to a capacity crowd at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, presenting highlights of findings included in the project's 2008 annual report.

Northern Canada has about 55,000 wolves and Alaska has about 10,000, so regional populations there are easily replenished by dispersing packs from elsewhere, despite heavy hunting in particular areas, he said.

"In the north, you have an ocean of wolves. The whole area is one big wolf population" surrounded by isolated pockets of people, Smith said.

"What we have here is an ocean of humanity with a couple of small areas of wolf survival, so it's a reverse dynamic," he said, adding that it is important to understand the difference. Scientists have largely modeled projections about Yellowstone wolf populations on lessons learned from wolves in the north.

But Yellowstone is special because wolves inside the park are virtually free of mortality from human causes, while 80 percent of wolves across the rest of North America are killed through hunting or by other human measures.

Consequently, there tend to be greater numbers of older wolves in Yellowstone packs, making for more experienced hunters than in nearby packs outside the park, he said.

"Yearlings have the highest rates of participation but the lowest success" in hunts, he said.

Biologists are learning more about the roles in hunting of different wolves within a pack's social structure.

"Females, with their sleek, slim, fast body types, are typically out front, picking out which elk to attack, along with the younger males," he said.

"The female will grab the elk, and at the end of the hunt, the big male catches up. These big males are important in the takedown. They are the best killers in the pack. But they're not at the forefront of the hunt," Smith said.

Researchers have found that packs with at least one large male tend to do much better in hunting elk than packs with none. Multiple large males are important for packs hunting bison or moose.

Wolves also tend to fare better in hunting elk during severe winters and in deeper snow, when their prey is weaker and has greater difficulty escaping, he said.

Smith said that fall "is the hardest time of the year to be a wolf" because elk are well-fed and in good shape, making them harder to catch.

Last year was a tough year for Yellowstone's wolves for a number of reasons, including disease, with distemper believed to have taken a heavy toll on pups.

Every one of the 25 new pups in the Leopold pack died, and the pack's alpha male was killed by a wolf in a neighboring pack. The result was the end of the pack.

"The Leopold pack completely crumbled after 12 years," he said.

A 40 percent drop last year in wolves in the northern part of the park was due to a number of reasons, including disease, inter-pack killings, some food shortages and a high density of wolves and other carnivores there, Smith said.

"We have probably hit a high point for wolves in that northern range already. I think, long term, we have begun to decline," he said, adding that it may take a decade or longer for wolf and elk numbers in the area to stabilize.

"In the long term, I would expect half as many wolves on the northern range as we have now," Smith said.

http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-an...03286.html

taipan Wrote:Old wolves need younger hunters to thrive

Posted: Tuesday, October 6, 2009 12:00 am | (27) Comments 

A good wolf retirement plan is pretty simple - make sure that you live in a pack with other wolves 2 or 3 years old and that there are plenty of young pups.

That's because once wolves reach adulthood at about age 2, their peak hunting performance lasts only about one year, according to recently published research conducted in Yellowstone National Park.

Hunting ability steadily declines after age 3, roughly corresponding to when the animals breed, according to Dan MacNulty of the University of Minnesota, lead author of the study published in Ecology Letters. The other researchers on the project were the park's lead wolf biologist, Doug Smith, as well as John Vucetich, David Mech, Daniel Stahler and Craig Packer.

"The wolf population on the landscape is not a homogenous block," MacNulty said. "That seems obvious, but I think it sometimes gets lost.

"What my study really highlights is how the variation in age affects their use of the resource - which in Yellowstone is elk."

Smith said his reaction when he first read MacNulty's findings was disbelief, so he asked him to review the data.

"But, when you think about it, when half of the wolves are dead at 4 to 5, it makes sense," he said. "A lot of them are dead shortly after they reach their peak hunting ability."

Pack mentality

The average wolf's life span in the park between 1998 and 2007, the study period, was six years. So wolves outside the prime hunting years need a Social Security-like supplemental feeding plan - meals on heels, so to speak.

That's where the benefits of living in a pack come in. The young toughs take down the game that helps feed the pups and old-timers. And, because maximum killing ability is short-lived, a pack wants plenty of young pups coming up to help out in the future.

"The point is they can only maintain maximum efficiency as a predator for a very short time, about 25 percent of their adulthood," MacNulty said.

Smith noted that the loss of ability, however, occurs more slowly than its acquisition.

"Their physical ability declines but they've learned how to hunt better," he said. "They're masking their decline in ability with wisdom."

He compared an older wolf to basketball superstar Michael Jordan at age 34, when he made a comeback in the NBA. Although not the aerialist he once was, Jordan could still score 20 points for the Washington Bullets.

Old athletes

Like aging human athletes, older wolves are less fit and, therefore, less successful at hunting, MacNulty's study suggests.

"Predation is a physically demanding activity," MacNulty said, not to mention a dangerous one with a high possibility of injury or death.

That sometimes makes older wolves more reliant on the younger members of the pack for food.

MacNulty pointed to the Crystal Creek pack as an example. There, MacNulty witnessed the pack's older breeding pair sitting on the sidelines while the rest of the pack made a kill. Then the old-timers padded down to join the feast.

Up till now, MacNulty said, ecologists had classified the predatory pressure of adult wolves the same, no matter their age. But MacNulty said this study shows that the age of the pack members needs to be factored in to assess the pack's chance for a successful kill. Given two packs of equal size, the one with the younger adults should be more successful in bringing down prey.

"For each 10 percent increase in the proportion of wolves older than 3, there is a decline in the kill rate of about 10 to 15 percent," he said. "That was a surprising result. I wasn't expecting such a dramatic number."

Applying the science

How the information could be applied by wildlife biologists in the field is not certain, MacNulty said. Capturing wolves to assess their age is a costly undertaking.

"What we're saying is there's an effect we need to explore further," he said. "What are really the implications of this at the population level explicitly, that's what we're trying to assess now."

MacNulty is also working on another paper that will help complete the picture of wolf hunts, looking at group size and its effects on success. His previous research looked at the size of individual wolves and their success at hunting and their role in the hunt.

"When you take those three papers together, it gives us a clearer picture of how wolves hunt," Smith said. "We're really moving the yardstick ahead on how they kill elk

http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-an...03286.html

taipan Wrote:Iberian Wolves Prefer Wild Roe Deer To Domestic Animals

ScienceDaily (Oct. 23, 2009) — A Spanish researcher has analysed the preferences of wolves from the north east of the Iberian Peninsula to demonstrate that, in reality, their favourite prey are roe deer, deer and wild boar, ahead of domestic ruminants (sheep, goats, cows and horses).

Wolves (Canis lupus) have been pursued by humans for centuries due to their supposed "addiction" to livestock. However, the study by Isabel Barja, sole author and researcher at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid [Autonomous University of Madrid], demonstrates that in the Macizo Central Orensano [mountain range in the Ourense region] (Galicia) wolves prefer wild hoofed animals to livestock in spite of the latter being available in the study area.

The researcher, who identified the food type of wolves through their faeces, emphasises that "in 87.1% of cases the carcasses of wild hoofed animals appeared, while domestic animals were only found in 11.3%, and, to a lesser extent, the remains of carnivorous animals, such as badgers, dogs, cats and rabbits were found."

The study, which has recently been published in Wildlife Biology, reflects how roe deer are the main prey, consumed during all seasons of the year and particularly during the summer (52%) and spring (26.2%). Analysis of 593 wolf excrement samples, collected between May 1998 and October 2002, revealed that 62.8% of prey was roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), 12.6% deer (Cervus elaphus) and 10% wild boar (Sus scrofa). The consumption of domestic sheep and goats only represented 7.7% and 2.9%, respectively.

The fact that livestock remains are present in excrement samples of wolves is justified by their scavenging activity in the studied area. "Furthermore, while the study was being conducted, no attacks on livestock herds were reported," the biologist states.

One of the most important aspects to emerge from the analysis of the diet of wolves is that consumption of wild and domestic hoofed animals does not depend on their availability, that is, the abundance of prey species. The wolf prefers roe deer, deer and wild boar ahead of livestock, "in spite of the fact that both food types can be found in large quantities," Barja adds.

The results of the study confirm that wolves do not feed on the most easily captured prey, such as domestic hoofed animals; rather they prefer to consume wild animals. It would, however, be inaccurate to categorise the wolf as an opportunist species in the study area.

"In areas with a low density and diversity of wild hoofed animals where wolves feed on domestic animals, an increase in the number of wild prey, livestock vigilance and limited access to carcasses could force wolves to specialise in the consumption of wild prey and transmit this behaviour to their offspring. Without doubt, this would help to minimise conflict between humans and wolves, and would support the conservation of canidae," the researcher concludes.

[Image: 091023104702-large.jpg]
This is a wolf in the "Saw of the snake" area in Zamora.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Journal reference:

Barja, Isabel. Prey and prey-age preference by the Iberian wolf Canis lupus signatus in a multiple-prey ecosystem. Wildlife Biology, 2009; 15 (2): 147-154

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/200...104702.htm
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
#12
taipan Wrote:Gray wolf population declining in Yellowstone 

[Image: wolvesx-large.jpg] 
Yellowstone National Park's wolf population is expected to be the lowest in 10 years. 
 
By Janice Lloyd, USA TODAY

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo — A dozen tourists in parkas huddle around wolf researcher Colby Anton in the northern range of the park, an area famous for gray wolves, to catch a glimpse of the images on his digital camera.
The wolf watchers have become a familiar scene since the animals were reintroduced into the park in 1995 after being gone for nearly 70 years. The wolves have fueled a $35 million-a-year industry as cars full of tourists spend hours from dawn to dusk looking for wolves and trading tales.

Now the tales are changing. 

The image on Anton's camera is of a dead wolf he discovered on an 18-mile hike in the high country of the park. "We found it partially buried under the snow, did a necropsy and concluded a wolf from another pack killed the wolf," he says.

The gray wolf population is declining, says Doug Smith, the coordinator of the reintroduction efforts and leader of the Yellowstone Wolf Project that studies and manages the wolves. Wolves are killing each other at a higher frequency to compete for elk, their primary food source, which is less abundant now, he says.

"The good times are over," Smith says. His annual census of the park's wolf population is expected to be the lowest in 10 years, he said. Smith is still gathering data but says the number of gray wolves in the park will be 116, a 33% drop from 2003, when the population was at an all-time high of 174.

While parvovirus and mange continue to reduce the population, part of this year's decline can be traced to the fact that wolves lost protection in the Northern Rockies under the Endangered Species Act in 2008. Wolves, like all wildlife, are protected inside the park, but when they roam beyond the borders, they fall into the state's wildlife management practices. Idaho and Montana, which border Yellowstone, permitted hunting of wolves this fall. Idaho recently extended its hunt until March.

The Yellowstone pack hardest hit by the hunt is nicknamed Cottonwood. Hunters killed four members of the pack, including the breeding female, her mate and her daughter in a Montana wilderness area bordering the park.

"The wolves have it hard enough inside the park," says Rolf Peterson, a wildlife biologist at Michigan Technological University. "The Yellowstone wolves should be treated like national treasures and protected." 

Several conservation groups, including the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife, have joined in a lawsuit and argue that the Northern Rockies wolves should be put back on the endangered species list. If wolves are relisted, hunting would be banned. 

"We're very much against the hunting of wolves at this time," says Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president of Defenders of Wildlife. The group faults the states' management plans to reduce wolves from 1,650 to 450. State officials state the need to balance the wolves with the habitat and other wildlife.

"It probably sounds counterintuitive to kill wildlife to protect wildlife," says Caroline Sime, wolf program coordinator for Montana Fish and Wildlife. "We haven't opened the floodgates to killing wolves, but having wolves, livestock and other wild game on the same landscape in Montana is tricky. It's a very tenuous balance."

Montana Fish and Wildlife closed the hunting season early in the area where the Yellowstone wolves were killed and plans to wait until spring to decide about next season's wolf hunt — if there is one.

Wildlife biologist Peterson says the wolves in the northern part of the park will need to turn to prey other than elk, which he says will help Montana because it doesn't want the animals migrating into the state where they spread disease to cattle. "The wolves are going to have to learn to hunt bison," he says.

The winter elk numbers in the park have dropped from 17,000 to 6,800 since the wolves were reintroduced. Hunting and weather factors have also taken a toll, Smith says.

The remaining elk are stronger, he says, making hunting harder for wolves.

"I've seen three cases this fall where a pack of wolves have gone after elk and the elk puts up a tremendous fight," Smith says. "I've never seen anything like that before. The wolves are risking their lives to hunt and eat." 

Peterson, author of The Wolves of Isle Royale, a 50-year study of the wolf packs in the Lake Superior region of the country, says other wolves will move into the territory dominated by the Cottonwood pack and the overall health of the wolves in Yellowstone is good. "This is just part of the ebb and flow," he says.

The roadside spectators still have plenty to see even as the wolf population drops in the park.

"This is still the best place in the USA to see wolves," Smith says. "It's just that there's an equilibrium now between the predator and the prey."

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/envi...htm?csp=34

reddhole Wrote:Single female wolf brings down adult cow elk and her calf in summer:

The pups couldn’t possibly have a better teacher than their mother, the incredible “’06 Female.” On July 26, she awed watchers by bringing down, entirely by herself, a hapless cow elk who had wandered into the rendezvous area, and then the “’06 Female” killed the calf too. The entire pack feasted for at least a week on the two carcasses, perhaps giving the pups their first chance to actually go to a carcass instead of waiting for an adult to bring the groceries home.

http://wolves.wordpress.com/2010/09/07/k...more-13864

reddhole Wrote:Below is an account of single beta male wolf killing an adult bison cow. The bison was sick or injured and the male wolf had a permanent limp.

Bison's last stand against Yellowstone wolf 

Tourists, scientists and a host of wildlife photographers got a rare front-row seat to a compelling wildlife drama this week at Yellowstone National Park.

On Sunday, a large male wolf from the Canyon Pack was seen stalking an injured or sick female bison. By Monday, the pair were locked in a deadly standoff in a meadow about 200 yards from one of the park's busy roads.

Dozens of people gathered to watch as the wolf patiently but repeatedly approached the bison, probing for weakness and looking for a response. The bison shook its head or snorted at the wolf, causing it to retreat to a nearby stand of trees. 

 After a time the bison would lower itself to the ground to rest, bringing out the wolf for another foray, with the intent to exhaust the bison. When successful, the bison was able to get to its feet and ward off the wolf.

 By late Monday, the bison's ability to fend off the attacks was waning, and the wolf was able to attack the bison's hindquarters for brief moments. Ultimately, the wolf would satisfy himself that the bison was too weak to defend itself and likely will call in his pack. Although Yellowstone's wolf packs do predate bison, this attack was rare. Bison make up 5% of wolves' diet, the bulk of which is elk. 

A large crowd was enthralled. Some were horrified at the inevitability of it all. One family ushered their children back to their car. Another man shrugged, "It's nature."


http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspa...stone.html

Yellowstone crowds witness wolf-bison standoff

The day-and-a-half struggle between an ailing bison and a wolf in Yellowstone National Park came to an end about dusk on Tuesday.

According to park rangers, the beta male of the Canyon Pack brought the bison down in a meadow about 200 yards from a main park road. During the night the entire pack fed on the dead bison.

The pack--the park's smallest, with three adults and three pups--returned Wednesday morning but left again. In the full expression of nature's democracy, an array of animals and birds came to the site to pick the at carcass.

By Wednesday afternoon, a pair of coyotes were defending their turf against incursion from a group of ravens.

The wolf, known to some as Limpy because of  a slight limp from an old injury, is the beta or subordinate male in the Canyon Pack, but he is a large and bold animal.While his stalking drama played out over two days in front of dozens of tourists and an equal number of professional photographers--the traffic jam was tremendous--the wolf  appeared unperturbed and focused.

Yellowstone's wolves will soon be moving to their winter ground, following the elk to higher elevations. But an unseasonal warmth has kept many of the park's big animals in the valleys and lowlands for tourists to enjoy.


http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspa...-on-t.html


[Image: CanyonMaleBison2.jpg]

[Image: CanyonMaleBison3.jpg]

IMHO, this makes the other case of a single male wolf killing a bull bison, which was based on wolf researcher, Lu Carbyn's, communication with a trapper (presumably someone he thought was a good source)  seem more believable.

Quote:Single Wolf Predation on Adult Bison - It Just Might Happen on Rare Occasions

The excerpts below discusses single wolf predation on adult bison. Carbyn certainly believes its possible - the bull musk-ox study referenced is the one I posted earlier in this thread.
 
While the two possible cases of predation could have been scavenging events, it seems that he leans towards predation (scavenging is "conceivable" as opposed to proboble) in these two cases. Still with this kind of feat, I would expect some to require more solid proof.

 
[Image: SingleWolfPredationonAdultBison001.jpg]
 
[Image: SingleWolfPredationonAdultBison002.jpg]

In Carbyn' latest book, more of a biography/memoir rather than a scientific piece, he says single wolves were not highly proficient buffalo hunters. He says the ones here mostly hunt small game, scavenge, but also test/attack bison, especially small adult bull groups. However, as you'd expect, single wolves were less likely than packs to test or attack bison that were encountered. He also mentions the above account by the trapper as a kill (no mention of a scavenging event). 

One would have to reason that if single wolves regularly tested/attacked adult bison, they must at least on a rare occasion succeed in killing them as you would wonder why they'd bother wasting energy on them. Certainly, I'd expect these bison to be more vulnerable, perhaps in very poor condition. Still, even a crippled bison could be lethal. In Carbyn's latest book, he recounts a story of a hunter/trapper who shot a bull bison, but was gored to death when he followed him in thick cover. Similarly, Carbyn noted the most aggressive bison he personally encountered was one who was crippled. Thus, IMHO, if a wolf (or any animal) can kill an adult bison in poor condition, its a remarkable achievement! 

As I've always said, there is a great increase in the efficiency of wolves (and dogs) when they go from 1 to 2 animals. With bison, (bulls averaging 1,870 lbs., and reaching 2,200 lbs. here) - the wolf's largest and most formidable prey - there is no doubt that this is especially true. Of all of the wolf's prey, bison would seem to be the one prey where larger packs could be beneficial.

cannidae Wrote:Hunting The Hunters -- Reintroduced Wolves Killing Mountain Lions
By Martin Forstenzer

Special To The Seattle Times

Environment. The reintroduction of wolves in various habitats has prompted scientists to study animal behavior in altered ecosystems. One study of wolf-mountain lion interaction in Montana provided some surprises.

There are predators and there are the animals they prey on. But what happens when predators interact?

That is the question scientists are trying to answer through observation of gray wolves and mountain lions in northwestern Montana.

A just-completed study of predator interactions has opened a window onto their behavior. The study has yielded surprising results, particularly about the degree to which wolves affect mountain lions. The impacts may have ramifications for wildlife prey species and possibly for humans as well.

The study, conducted by the Hornocker Wildlife Institute, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the University of Idaho, was the first ever done of wolf and mountain-lion interactions.

It comes after the wolf, pretty much eradicated from the Lower 48 states after being a threat to livestock and perceived threat to humans, is being reintroduced by humans to habitats throughout the West. The reintroduction is mandated by the Endangered Species Act to re-establish wolf populations.

In addition to the well-publicized reintroduction in Yellowstone National Park, wolves have also been reintroduced in central Idaho and are scheduled to be released next spring in eastern Arizona. The Olympic Peninsula is among the places being considered for wolf reintroduction.

Tracking the lions

In 1993, the Hornocker Institute, known for its work conserving tigers in Siberia and with mountain lions and other predators in North America, began a study of gray wolves that migrated naturally from Canada into the United States. The wolves recolonized an area of prime mountain lion habitat along the North Fork of the Flathead River in northwestern Montana, just west of Glacier National Park.

For the study, biologists put radio collars on 40 mountain lions in order to follow their movements and used snow tracking to study the interactions between the cats and the wolves.

According to Toni Ruth, the study project leader, wolves and grizzly bears tend to harass and cause the deaths of mountain lions to a greater degree than was previously understood. When wolf packs encountered mountain lions, the cats were generally chased off or killed, she said. The recolonized wolves commonly drove lions away from their prey kills - mostly white-tailed deer or elk. The lions were then forced to make additional kills in order to survive.

"In one tracking sequence in fresh snow," Ruth said, "wolves chased a lion from a kill site, in and out of cover, and treed the lion. The wolves went back up to the kill site, and later the lion went back to the site but there was nothing left."
The study also documented that grizzly bears usurped both mountain lion and wolf kills. Some bears tracked lions to kill sites, apparently while staying out of hibernation for an entire winter. Over the course of the study, the biologists documented that wolves killed three mountain lions, a grizzly killed another one, and three more were killed by other lions.

Seven other cats died of starvation. "The starvations are probably related to mountain lions getting bumped off of their kills," Ruth said. "They're expending the energy to make a kill but are not able to reap the benefits. There is also the compounding problem of a decline in prey availability."

Female lions in wolf territory also seem to have fewer surviving kittens, Ruth added. In one case, a grizzly tracked a lion back to its den, and may have killed one of the kittens there.

Data from the study have influenced other biologists working with mountain lions or their prey species. "I think the role of this project is to take that extra step farther back and look at how a totally natural system would have been," said P. Ian Ross, a Calgary-based wildlife consultant who has studied mountain lions extensively."It's a real good classroom to observe and allow us to make some predictions."

Conflicts to come

Most wildlife biologists agree that, in recent times, mountain-lion populations have expanded significantly beyond their historic numbers across the West, in part because of the absence of wolves. In areas where wolves are re-established, lion populations will probably be reduced in size in the long run, and some prey populations will also likely be diminished, Ruth said. After reintroductions, wolves will probably displace lions from ecosystems, and in some cases drive the cats into areas of human habitation, she added.

"Mountain lions are able to cope with human areas, which wolves stay away from," she said.

Another factor that may draw lions to populated areas is that, according to earlier studies, deer tend to retreat to the edges of wolf territories. In some places, that would provide lions with an available prey species close to ranches or towns. Ruth believes that in eastern Arizona, where the Mexican wolf is to be reintroduced next spring, displaced lions may be driven to prey on cattle or pets.

"There could be impacts for local livestock owners as well as for bighorn sheep in New Mexico," a state endangered species there, Ruth said.

The Arizona plan has already been controversial with residents in the reintroduction area, particularly ranchers and Native American tribes who are concerned about the impacts of the wolves on livestock and wildlife.

Dave Parsons, leader of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Mexican wolf-recovery program, said he was familiar with the Hornocker study, and agreed that some mountain lions would be displaced when wolves are reintroduced. "When wolves were taken out, other predators made adjustments to fill that void. I expect we're going to see an unsorting of that when we go back (and reintroduce wolves)," he said.

However, he added that he expected the ecosystem to eventually reach a natural balance in which predators would kill roughly the same number of prey animals that they now do. "It will take a little time for the predatory community to go through this transition, but eventually there will be a few fewer lions and a few fewer coyotes, so that the overall predation pressure will remain relatively unchanged," Parsons said.

Wolves on the Peninsula

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is waiting for an appropriation of funds to begin a feasibility study for a wolf reintroduction on the Olympic Peninsula, according to Dave Frederick, supervisor of the agency's Western Washington office. But because interactions between predators may vary greatly in different types of terrain and habitat, little is known about how the animals would behave on the peninsula.

"When you put a top-line predator in with other top-line predators like mountain lions, bears and whatever else, there is competition," Frederick said. "There's always the possibility that wolves will displace lions to a certain extent. A lot of this is site specific, and there is no baseline data for wolf-mountain lion interactions on the peninsula.

Before wolves recolonized northwestern Montana, modern biologists had little opportunity to study wolf and mountain-lion interactions. In recent times, the two predators have coexisted only in a few limited areas. (What are apparently remnant populations of wolves still reside in northern Washington in the Cascades and Selkirk Mountains, which also hold mountain lions.) However, interactions between the two predators were never studied.

The Hornocker study is one of four being done of the same group of wolves in Montana. In addition to the mountain-lion study, biologists from the University of Montana are studying wolf predation on hoofed mammals, interactions between wolves and coyotes, and genetic traits of the wolves. The researchers shared data about the wolves and other mammals.

Copyright © 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved. 


http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19971014&slug=2566106

reddhole Wrote:Wolf kills 100-pound dog in Utah
August 4th, 2010 @ 6:08pm
By PAUL FOY, Associated Press Writer
(Stock photo) 

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A wolf attacked and killed a dog that was guarding sheep near the Wyoming border, the Utah Department of Agriculture confirmed Wednesday. 

The wolf killed the dog a week ago on private lands in the Chalk Creek area east of Coalville, Department of Agriculture spokesman Larry Lewis said. 

Lewis said the 100-pound Great Pyrenees was no match for the wolf, which injured a second guard dog in the same attack. The other dog was missing for several days but turned up Wednesday nursing injuries from the attack, he said. 

Wildlife officers were able to confirm the wolf kill by collecting fur from the scene, and a livestock herder reported that he saw a wolf limping away from the attack, Lewis said. 

The wolf is still on the loose. An effort to trap it was unsuccessful. 

Lewis said he couldn't identify the sheep herder or landowner because they don't want publicity that could draw tourists or vigilantes to their ranch. 

State officials, meanwhile, are trying to confirm another report that a wolf or wolves killed a calf Tuesday near Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area, 15 miles east of Hyrum along the border of Cache and Rich counties. 

Traps were being set Wednesday in that location, said Mark Hadley, a spokesman for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. 

Officials say wolves are becoming a problem in northern Utah for the first time since the 1930s. Among other recent attacks was a wolf that killed two calves, and a wolf that attacked livestock in northern Utah's Cache County in July. 

In addition, "there's been plenty of sightings" of wolves in northern Utah this summer, Lewis said. 

The Utah and U.S. departments of agriculture employ 10 trappers who live in remote areas of Utah to deal with nuisance coyotes, cougars, bears -- and now wolves.


http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=148&sid=11858806

dinomike Wrote:Arctic Wolf - Canis lupus arctos

Scientific classification 
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Canis
Species: C. lupus
Subspecies: C. l. arctos
 
Conservation status: Least Concern

The Arctic Wolf (Canis lupus arctos), also called Polar Wolf or White Wolf, is a species of mammal of the family Canidae, and a subspecies of the Gray Wolf. Arctic Wolves inhabit the Canadian Arctic, Alaska and the northern parts of Greenland.

Anatomy
Though the same species as a Gray Wolf, Arctic Wolves generally are smaller than the "Forest Gray Wolves" (Arctic Wolves are sometimes called "Tundra Wolves"). They are about 0.9 to 1.8 m (35 to 71 in) long including the tail; the head and body without the tail measure 1 to 1.5 m (39 to 59 in); males are larger than females and are more aggressive. Their shoulder heights vary from 0.63 to 0.79 m (25 to 31 in), shorter than other wolf subspecies of similar mass, their ears are smaller to trap body heat and their muzzles are much shorter. The males weigh 34 to 46 kg (75 to 100 lb) and females 36 to 38 kg (79 to 84 lb), but may fall in the 45 to 70 kg (99 to 150 lb) range. Arctic Wolves are smaller than other wolves and have long, thick white fur. Like other wolves, they have strong jaws with sharp teeth, including long canine teeth which tear flesh. During the winter, the Arctic Wolf grows a second layer of fur for protection during the harsh winter weather. Wolves have very good eyesight, acute hearing, and a keen sense of smell which help them hunt.

Habitat and distribution

[Image: Arcticwolf_distribution.gif]

The Arctic Wolf inhabits the northern part of Greenland, the Canadian Arctic and parts of Alaska. They have lived in North America for more than two million years. When they find a den, they make a couple of chambers for food and young. Arctic wolves live on the islands of the Canadian Arctic, and the north coast of Greenland, roughly north of 70° North latitude. The Arctic Wolf is the only subspecies of the Gray Wolf that still can be found over the whole of its original range, largely because, in their natural habitat, they rarely encounter humans.

Their habitat is extremely harsh and remote, and few scientists venture into that world during the long, dark winter – even the vast majority of Inuit live further south than the Arctic wolf. As a result, the details of their lives through much of the year are virtually unknown.

Behavior
The Arctic Wolf is one of the few mammals that can withstand the arctic weather. It can survive in sub-zero temperatures for years, in absolute darkness for five months per year, and without food for weeks. Arctic Wolves usually travel in packs of 2 to 20. They live in small family groups: a breeding pair (alpha male and female) and their pups. The pack works together to feed and care for their pups. Lone Arctic Wolves are young males that have left their pack to seek their own territories. They avoid other wolves, unless they are able to mate. Having found an abandoned territory, a lone Arctic Wolf will claim it by marking the territory with its scent, then gather other lone wolves into its pack. When the female is pregnant, she leaves the pack to dig a den to raise her pups. If the ice is too thick, she will move to a den or cave.

Hunting
Like all wolves, Arctic Wolves hunt in packs, preying mainly on Caribou and Muskoxen, but also Arctic Hares, seals, ptarmigan and lemmings, and smaller animals such as waterfowl.[5] To eat rodents they must pick up their scent and find the entrance to their tiny dens to flush them out. Wolves almost never attack humans. Due to the scarcity of prey, they roam large areas, up to 2,600 km2 (1,000 sq mi), and follow migrating caribou south during the winter. They are not fast runners, instead relying on stamina to take down prey.

They kill their prey with a bite on the neck. Adult wolves have 42 teeth, their main weapon in hunting. They swallow food in large chunks, barely chewing it. They eat all of their prey, including the bones. Wolves can eat up to 20 pounds (9 kg) of meat at one meal. When they return from the hunt, wolves regurgitate some of the food for the hungry pups.

Reproduction
Due to the Arctic's permafrost soil and the difficulty it poses for digging dens, Arctic Wolves often use rock outcroppings, caves or even shallow depressions as dens instead. After gestation of about 63 days to 75 days, birth is in late May to early June, about a month later than Gray Wolves. The mother gives birth to 2 or 3 pups, though there may be as many as 12. This is fewer pups than Gray Wolves, which have four to five. It is generally thought that the lower number is due to the scarcity of prey in the Arctic. Pups are born blind and deaf, and weigh about one pound. They are dependent on their mother for food and protection. When they are three weeks old, they are allowed outside the den. Other wolves in the pack may take care of the mother’s pups until she returns with food.

[Image: 62460216_41014415_Beluyy_volk.jpg] 

taipan Wrote:How big? How bad? Alaska wolf size depends on prey 

by Tim Mowry / tmowry@newsminer.com Fairbanks Daily News Miner 
Dec 29, 2010 | 1557 views | 2  |  | 12  |  |  

[Image: CKNI_30wolf.jpg]
A wolf stands in the brush near Wonder Lake in Denali National Park and Preserve. Adult male wolves in Denali average about 105 pounds while the average weight for females is 90 pounds.

FAIRBANKS — If you’re looking for the biggest wolves in Alaska, head to the Fortymile country.

That’s where legendary Alaska wolf trapper and hunter Frank Glaser caught a 175-pound male in the summer of 1939, the largest wolf ever documented in Alaska. Glaser trapped the wolf on the Seventymile River near Eagle.

“They run some big wolves in that country,” state wildlife biologist Craig Gardner, who spent 20 years working in the area while stationed at Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Tok, said. 

While the wolf Glaser caught had a belly full of meat, Gardner captured a 142-pound male with an empty stomach in 1997 when the state was sterilizing wolves as part of a recovery plan for the Fortymile Caribou Herd. The wolf was the alpha male in a pack of 16 wolves.

“He was just enormous,” Gardner said.

Wildlife biologist John Burch of the National Park Service caught a 148-pound wolf in 2001 in the Fortymile country, i.e. the Yukon Charley Rivers National Preserve. A female with him weighed 110, Burch said.

“They were on a moose kill,” Burch recalled. “He had a stomach full of meat and so did she.”

Burch has caught one other wolf over 140 pounds — a 143 pounder 10 years ago — and four that were over 130 pounds, including a 132 pounder last year.

“Any wolf over 140 I would classify as huge,” Burch said.

The average weight for an adult male wolf in Alaska is about 100 to 110 pounds while females average about 90 pounds. The biggest wolf in most packs almost always are the alpha males, biologists said.

“If you catch an alpha male out of a pack that weighs 120, that’s representative of a big, fully grown adult,” said biologist Mark McNay, who spent half of the 27 years he was at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game studying wolves before retiring in 2007.

During his career at Fish and Game, McNay captured and weighed more than 300 wolves. The biggest was a 143-pound male he caught in the Alaska Range in 2003. That wolf was the alpha male in a pack of 16 and was coming off a fresh kill, he said.

The biggest female McNay has ever caught was a 118-pound wolf in the late 1980s, which he captured in the same area as the 143-pound male in 2003. The alpha male in that pack weighed about 125 pounds.

“They were in exceptionally good territory that had lots of moose and caribou in it,” McNay said.

Most of the wolves in Alaska are what McNay referred to as “moose wolves” because they rely on moose for the bulk of their food. Based on loosely adhered to formula used by biologists, a wolf requires an average of about 10 pounds of food per day. That means an average wolf eats the equivalent of two moose per year.

“That’s a little misleading because they eat caribou, Dall sheep, a few birds, a few beaver; they eat other things,” McNay said. 

The weights of wolves fluctuate greatly depending on food availability. Wolves can eat 20 pounds of moose or caribou in one meal if it’s available. Wolves “can pack away a lot,” McNay said.

“If I caught one that was 143 pounds and it hadn’t eaten for a couple days it could be the same size as a 170-pound wolf coming off a fresh kill,” he said.

Other biologists agreed wolves are extreme opportunists when it comes to food.

“You find that in stomachs pretty commonly — 15 pounds of meat, hairball and bone,” longtime Fairbanks biologist Rod Boertje said. “That’s how you get these 140-pound wolves.”

“If they have the opportunity to eat a lot they will,” Burch added.

While there was no mention of Glaser’s giant catch in a book chronicling his wilderness adventures titled “Alaska’s Wolf Man” by Jim Rearden, wolf researcher Stanley Young, who worked as a biologist for the U.S. Biological Survey, the predecessor to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, makes mention of it in the book he wrote in 1944, “The Wolves of North America.”

“A very large male collected by Frank S. Glaser, July 12, 1939, on 70-Mile River, approximately 50 miles from its mouth in extreme east central Alaska, weighed 175 pounds,” Young wrote. “It was the heaviest that has been taken by any of the personnel of the Fish and Wildlife Service.”

There also is mention of a 172-pound male with a stomach full of meat caught in the Northwest Territories in 1947 and a 157-pound wolf shot on the Savage River drainage in the Alaska Range in 1934.

The wolves Burch handles in the Yukon Charley Rivers National Preserve are bigger than the wolves he dealt with working in Denali National Park and Preserve for 10 years. According to his figures, males in the Yukon Charley run about 5 pounds bigger than Denali Park males and females are about 2 pounds larger.

Of the 179 wolves Burch has captured in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve since 1993, the average weight for adult males is 111 pounds and for females it is 97.

In Minnesota, where he worked with wolves for seven years, Burch said, “a wolf over 100 pounds was almost unheard of.”

Of the 300 or so wolves that biologist Layne Adams with the U.S. Geological Survey has handled working in Denali National Park and Preserve and Gates of the Arctic National Preserve, the biggest was a 135-pound male in Denali. Adams still remembers the size of the wolf as if it were some kind of mutant.

“The thing was huge to me, compared to what I normally handled,” Adams said, noting the average weight of male wolves in Denali is 105 pounds. “The first thing I noticed was the size of his head. It was huge.”

Most trappers don’t weigh the wolves they catch because they skin them in the field, said Al Barrette at Fairbanks Fur Tannery. Even if they did weigh them, chances are they would weigh less than those handled by biologists because they’ve been in a trap for several days, he said.

“When trappers catch wolves they’re on the move, looking for food, their bellies are empty,” said Barrette, a trapper himself. “It’s not too often you catch a wolf with a full stomach.”

Barrette weighs about 50 wolves per year that trappers bring him to skin and the biggest he has ever weighed is 128 pounds.

As for talk of 150-pound wolves, Barrette said, “I’d like to see one.”

http://newsminer.com/view/full_story/108...ead_story1

warsaw Wrote:Craniometrical features in wild Italian south-central Apennines wolf
http://www.ambulatoriovalerii.it/CRANIOM...POSTER.pdf
Causes of wolf mortality in Croatia in the period 1986-2001
http://www.environmental-studies.de/Wolf...roatia.pdf

reddhole Wrote:Below is an account of a single male wolf killing an adult cow elk in Yellowstone National Park.

We go to Lamar only, for wolves of course and were we rewarded this weekend.. Not only did we see wolves decimating coyote dens (then watched as the coyotes carried the remaining pups to a new den), swimming across ponds, being chased by coyotes and testing elk, we saw a single wolf take down a cow elk...from start to finish!!!

Three wolves are chasing a cow across the street from Fisherman's/Coyote...the elk heads for the road, crosses, only one wolf is brave enough to follow..the black that was once the Slough Alpha male..he gets her by the leg on the other side of the road....she struggles, he gets her neck...she manages to get away but he is hot on her heels, literally. He gets her down again, on a rock not 200 feet from the road, this time she stays down. He has her by the neck and it's not long before she is unconcious..but still alive as he begins to nibble.

He does not like his exposed position so he pulls her down off the rock...THOSE WITH WEAK STOMACHS STOP READING...I'll give you a sec..

ok, we watched as he removed the calf fetus from her and carried it accross the street to his waiting cohorts.

The photogs got some National Geo shots on Monday, I'll tell you what.

I will update this with photos as soon as possible..but there's gotta be someone else out there who saw this too?????
It was such an emotionally charged scene, I found myself excited by the chase but saddened for the cow and her calf. Nature, it's AMAZING!

She tries to run

[Image: SingleYellowstoneWolfKillsAdultCowElk1.jpg]

[Image: SingleYellowstoneWolfKillsAdultCowElk2.jpg]

The death grip around the throat

[Image: SingleYellowstoneWolfKillsAdultCowElk3.jpg]

The end..although at this point the cow is still alive.

[Image: SingleYellowstoneWolfKillsAdultCowElk4.jpg]

[Image: SingleYellowstoneWolfKillsAdultCowElk5.jpg]

After this he takes her down off the rock...I do not have any shots of the fetus, but I'm sure the professionals out there do.

[Image: SingleYellowstoneWolfKillsAdultCowElk6.jpg]


http://forums.yellowstone.net/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1998

A older account of a yearling male wolf killing an adult cow elk. Cow elk was killed per US National Park Service website.

[Image: 6ChaseCorrection.jpg]

[Image: 6TakedownCorrection.jpg]
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
#13
taipan Wrote:Study reveals insight into wolves
It said North American gray wolves and coyotes are hybrids that developed over the last few hundred years.

Updated: May 31, 2011 - 7:03 PM 

ALBANY, N.Y. - Wolves in the eastern United States are hybrids of gray wolves and coyotes, while the region's coyotes actually are wolf-coyote-dog hybrids, said a new genetic study that is adding fuel to the debate over the origins of two endangered species.

It is unlikely to affect the management of the endangered red wolf in North Carolina and the eastern Canadian wolf in Ontario, but it offers fresh insight into their genetic makeup and concludes that those wolves are hybrids that developed over the last few hundred years.

Some scientists have argued that the red wolf, Canis rufus, and the eastern Canadian wolf, Canis lycaon, evolved from an ancient eastern wolf species distinct from the larger gray wolf, Canis lupus, that is found in western North America.

Experts who adhere to that theory -- including L. David Mech, senior research scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey's Northern Prairie Research Center in St. Paul, and founder of the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minn. -- say the study falls short of proving anything. They say it doesn't explain why hybrids appear only in some places and note that western wolves don't hybridize with coyotes but often kill them.

In the study, published online in the peer-reviewed journal Genome Research, 16 researchers led by Robert Wayne of the University of California-Los Angeles, used information from the dog genome -- the animal's entire genetic code -- to survey the genetic diversity in dogs, wolves and coyotes. It was the most detailed genetic study of any wild vertebrate species to date, using molecular genetic techniques to look at more than 48,000 markers, said Roland Kays of the New York State Museum and a co-author.

The study showed a gradient of hybridization. In the West, wolves were pure wolf. In the western Great Lakes, they were 85 percent wolf and 15 percent coyote. The red wolf in North Carolina was found to be 24 percent wolf and 76 percent coyote. Northeastern coyotes were found to also be 9 percent dog and 9 percent wolf. Mech said, "It's an academic issue. ... From a conservation standpoint, it shouldn't make any difference."

http://www.startribune.com/sports/outdoo...08203.html

[quot=reddhole]A wolf killed one dog and injured two others last week as the hounds pursued a mountain lion in the Roscoe-Luther area, according to the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

“Wolves can be aggressive toward dogs at any time of the year, but we do document an increase at this time of the year,” said Carolyn Sime, FWP’s wolf project leader.

Beginning in December and continuing through February, male wolves are wandering and competing for mates in advance of the breeding season.

“That aggressive behavior can transfer over to domestic dogs,” Sime said.

“The reason they attack dogs is they think there’s a strange wolf in their territory,” said Ed Bangs, western gray-wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Hunting dogs are often a target because they’re barking and baying, notifying wolves that they’re in the area, he added.

The number of dogs reported killed by wolves in Montana since 1990 is 40, according to preliminary data from FWP. That compares with 22 in Wyoming and 60 in Idaho.

“We think that’s low because people don’t always report that kind of stuff,” Sime said.

Wolves are also known to kill other wolves in territorial disputes, as well as coyotes


http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-an...03286.html
[/quote]

cannidae Wrote:lone wolf hunting bison
[Image: 267874_2071167136938_1177670810_32140367_1538879_n.jpg]
[Image: 268642_2071077374694_1177670810_32140079_8234792_n.jpg]

taipan Wrote:Larger wolf packs are less successful in hunting elk 
 
By Brian Maffly
The Salt Lake Tribune
First published Sep 29 2011 10:52PM
Updated Sep 30, 2011 10:37PM 

A few weeks ago Yellowstone National Park officials discovered the carcass of one of the park’s deadliest wolves, an aging male that scientists knew to be an aggressive bison hunter. 

Wolf No. 495 died naturally, but his body bore bruises consistent with injuries inflicted in an encounter with large game, according to Dan MacNulty, an assistant professor of wildlife ecology at Utah State University.

The wounds found on No. 495 help explain MacNulty’s latest findings that wolves’ hunting success bears little correlation to the size of the hunting party beyond four wolves. Wolves hunt in groups because taking down large hoofed animals is not only challenging but dangerous. 

But if the attack party exceeds four animals, the chance of success levels off, according to research MacNulty and colleagues published this week in the journal Behavioral Ecology.

"Wolves aren’t as effective hunters as we think they are. That perception is premised on the notion that each individual contributes to the hunt, so there is an additive effect when the group is bigger. That is just not the case," said MacNulty, an assistant professor of wildland resources. "Individuals are responding to the threat of injury and death that large prey poses, so they are pulling back, making decisions to avoid the cost of injury."

The new research is based on eight years of observations in Yellowstone’s Northern Range involving 94 wolves from five packs, including the late No. 495 from Mollie’s pack. 

Once eradicated from the Northern Rockies, wolves were reintroduced at Yellowstone in 1995. These animals and their descendants are among the most closely studied populations in the world. The observations track behavior of individual animals over the course of their lives, creating a powerful data set for understanding this controversial social predator. 

The findings suggest group hunting is not the main reason wolves live in packs, according to co-author David Mech of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. "Looking to lions and other social predators, it provides further insight into the evolution of living in groups," he said. 

Hunting is a four-stage process for wolves that grows increasingly dangerous. First the group approaches a prey herd, then chases it and singles out an individual before taking it down. 

MacNulty’s data tracked how many wolves were involved at each stage of particular elk hunts and their outcomes. But his team also knew a lot about each wolf involved, which gave the team insights into wolf behavior.

"We knew the gender, the age, whether they were breeding," said MacNulty. "Parents generally take the lead because they have offspring to provide for. … Given a choice, wolves will stay out of harm’s way until it’s safe to enjoy the spoils of the hunt. They’re opportunists. And this challenges the popular belief that wolves are highly cooperative hunters."

MacNulty has been involved with the Yellowstone Wolf Project from its inception. Co-author Doug Smith, of the National Park Service, leads the program and conducted some observations aerially, although most were done on the ground by volunteers.

"Our findings may not be true of larger prey. Wolves are throwing the kitchen sink at bison," Smith cautioned.

Real wolves bear almost no resemblance to their fairy-tale caricatures. In previous research, MacNulty demonstrated that wolves’ hunting prowess peaks at age two or three, then declines rapidly. These archetypal killers aren’t well-built for killing big prey anyway.

Cougars’ claws and powerful forelimbs are not only effective tools on large prey, but also enable the predator to kill without being killed. By contrast, wolves’ tools are teeth and jaws, but to put them to use, they must expose themselves to serious harm. 

"Wolves are risk averse. They are cautious hunters," MacNulty said. "Hunting success also peaks in small groups with other social predators. But our study is the first to rigorously test this pattern and demonstrate that it’s likely due to individuals switching from cooperation to ‘free riding’ as group size increases."

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/sports/5260...y.html.csp

reddhole Wrote:Bone tales

Paleopathologist examines Yellowstone wolf skeletons for clues to their lives

By BRETT FRENCH Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette  

Despite loose and missing teeth, disease and an injury from being kicked by an elk, at 7 years old, wolf #8M was still hunting elk in Yellowstone National Park as the alpha male of the Rose Creek pack.

The animal's determination and grit impressed Sue Ware, a paleopathologist who works for the Denver Museum and has been studying bones of the park's wolves, including #8M, since 2008.

"I don't understand how an animal could live through this," she said.

After his death, Ware's examination of #8M's skeleton showed his muzzle to be riddled with holes from a bone infection, his canine teeth loose and blunted. The infection probably led to his death, since it can cause heart disease, organ damage and severe pain.

Yet a week before he died, wolf watchers had shot a video of the male hanging on to an elk during a hunt -- loose, dull teeth and all.

"He was never challenged for his position in the pack, and he was doing everything you would expect him to do in the pack," she said.

History of injuries

Ware's analysis of about 160 wolf skeletons over the past three years has revealed more details on just how tough it is in the wild canid's world. Her examination of their bones have revealed injuries from attack by other wolves, a cougar bite to one wolf's skull, assorted broken ribs and legs from kicks by elk and bison, as well as broken foot bones.

"One of the things that is most detrimental is re-injury," Ware said. "I see a lot of re-injured bones."

The re-injuries occur because, unlike an injured human athlete, the wolves can't sit out of the wild games until they are healed. They have to soldier on.

Making measurements

To make her examinations, Ware has to first have the carcasses cleaned of all tissue. Then she examines each of the wolves' 320 bones (321 for males). To determine what animal may have caused a bite injury -- another wolf, bear or cougar -- she measures the incision and compares it to the tooth size and shape of the other predators.

It's a painstaking task, one that she's used to study wolves from the upper Midwest, Canada and Alaska, as well as the fossilized remains of dire wolves -- a large-headed relative of the gray wolf that went extinct in North America about 9,500 years ago.

Healthier packs

Compared to wolf bones she has examined from other areas, Ware said the Yellowstone animals tend to be healthier. Yet those with injuries, some of them quite severe, demonstrate how tough the animals can be and provide the most interesting tales.

Take wolf #21M, an alpha male for the Druid Pack. He lived to be 9 years old, despite an injury to the top of his skull and cracked and worn teeth. Wolf #483F of the Leopold and Geode Creek packs suffered two different attacks that scarred the top of her skull -- one likely from another wolf, and another probably from a female cougar. Although she survived those attacks for awhile, she later died from a brain infection likely caused from the injuries.

"One good thing about the research that I'm doing is that it provides another lens for looking at these wolves," Ware said. "It gives other researchers a little more information on each and every one of these guys. It's a pretty interesting story all around."


http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-an...f8dac.html

wrr Wrote:[Image: 1807Wolf_pop.jpg]

"A recent study found 12 packs roaming the country, up from just one a decade ago, leading scientists to conclude that the wolf's return was "unstoppable". Two packs, thought to include a total of 18 animals all together, now live just 65 kilometres from Berlin.

Scientists estimate that there are over 100 wolves across Germany.

Wolf numbers have fluctuated across Europe and there are currently none in Britain, although private organisations have discussed reintroducing them to the forests of Scotland.

While Russia is thought have around 50,000 wolves, many will be in its eastern wilderness. Ukraine is thought to have the highest European wolf population with around 2,000.

Spain has the largest number of wolves in western Europe with around 1,500, according to the international Wolf Centre. Turkey also has a large wolf population, with around 5,000 living there.
"

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/interact...urope.html

reddhole Wrote:Below is a reference to a 70 kg (154 lb.) wild wolf weighed in Bob Hayes's study of Yukon Territory wolves.

Source: Bob Hayes, "Wolves of the Yukon"

[Image: 154lbWildWolf.jpg]

[Image: 154lbWildWolf2.jpg]
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
#14
reddhole Wrote:Wolf and bison weights from this area are listed below. Based on average weights of 300 kg for yearling bison and 39.5 kg for females wolves, the prey-predator ratio is 7.6:1. In an area not too far away, yearling bison average 360 kg. Given bison are more powerful on a pound for pound basis than most other ungulates (i.e. cervids), this is quite impressive IMHO.


[Image: WoodBuffaloParkBisonWeights.jpg]

[Image: WoodBuffaloParkWolfWeights.jpg]


It is also interesting the female wolf took the lead in the attack. Generally, the male does. Perhaps, it was a more mature female who was more experienced hunting bison than the male.

The sexual dimorpism figures are quite large here for wolves as well. Males are on average about 25% heavier than females which is quite large for most wolf populations. Perhaps males, which tend to play much larger role than females, have to be proportionately larger here due to frequent predation on bison.

wrr Wrote:First (officially reported) wolf back to California.

"The gray wolf that was wandering in southern Oregon has crossed the California border. According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) this animal is a 2 ½ year old male formerly from a pack in northeast Oregon. Since the animal has been collared with a Global Positioning System (GPS) device that periodically transmits its location, biologists have been able to document its travels since it was collared in February 2011. Based on the GPS data, he is now more than 300 miles from where his journey began.

His journey, in total, has been more than twice that far with many changes in direction. Several times he has reversed direction and returned to previous locations. Today, the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) learned that this wolf, designated OR7, crossed the state line into northern Siskiyou County yesterday. Tracking data puts his most recent location as a few miles south of the Oregon border. It is not possible to predict his next movements which could include a return to Oregon.

DFG continues to collaborate with ODFW and expects to receive daily location data. This information is transmitted daily when atmospheric conditions permit. DFG will be sharing only general location information as this wolf, while in California, is protected as endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

“Whether one is for it or against it, the entry of this lone wolf into California is an historic event and result of much work by the wildlife agencies in the West,” said DFG Director Charlton H. Bonham. “If the gray wolf does establish a population in California, there will be much more work to do here.”

Any wild gray wolf that returns to California is protected as endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

DFG has been following the recovery and migration of gray wolves in western states with the expectation that at some point they will likely reach California. The last confirmed wild gray wolf in California was killed in Lassen County in 1924. The available historic information on wolves in California suggests that while they were widely distributed, they were not abundant. DFG has been compiling historic records, life history information, reviewing studies on wolf populations in other western states, enhancing communication with other agencies and training biologists on field techniques specific to wolves. This effort is to ensure that DFG has all necessary information available when needed, it is not a wolf management plan and DFG does not intend to reintroduce wolves into California.
"

Whole page on it - http://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2011/12/29...alifornia/
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
#15
Red Dog Wrote:
reddhole Wrote:Some interesting data on wolf predation during summer. Most predation studies are done in winter (when its easier to track predator and prey in snow).

"Yellowstone National Park reports that their summer predation study utilizing GPS collars and searching for clusters of wolf activity is going well, in past summers GPS collar failure was a major problem. The tentative results are interesting. Wolves are mainly killing bulls in summer. Few cows and few calves were killed, similar to the results gathered from the elk calf mortality study. While the field crews are more likely to miss calves than other types of prey [they are small and consumed quickly] but the kills discovered so far are mostly bull elk."

[url=http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/weeklyrpt07/wk07132007.htm
http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/spec...132007.htm[/quote[/url]]

Here are the specific details from this summer predation study:

"In the latest “wolf weekly” report from Ed Bangs at USFWS, Ed wrote: Yellowstone Park researchers report that the summer predation study is going well. Approx 31 kills have been found May-mid through mid-July and they are 20 bulls, 5 cows, 5 calves, 1 mule deer. These data support the results of research done by following tagged elk calves [wolves killed few] and generally, but less so, scat analyses (scat analyses show more mule deer used in summer). Collar locations decrease from one every 30 min now to 8/day starting."

Red Dog Wrote:Another Druid disperser, Agate alpha male “Big Blaze,” is currently missing after a dramatic fight with interloping Mollies wolf 641M, right next to the road in Little America on February 14.

Both 641M and “Big Blaze” repeatedly applied biting holds to the other’s muzzle. Although “Big Blaze” initially put up a good fight, it appeared that the larger 641M prevailed. “Big Blaze” was only seen once again, shortly after the fight, so our hopes have dimmed that he survived.


http://wolves.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/k...more-11537

Red Dog Wrote:Account # 1

As soon as they arrived at Rainy Bay, Hardie released the hounds, who sprang into action after quickly finding a scent trail. They soon found the cat, but instead of fleeing up a tree as a cougar would normally do, this feline fought back.

Here is a nearly identical case of a wolf killing one cougar hunting hound and wounding two others in Montana:
“I got within ten feet of it and I saw it sitting on top of my dog Sally, while Penny was barking in his face,” said Hardie. “To me it looked like a hundred-pound-plus cat; probably a 2 year old male,” he said. “It could be a bad cat or it could be injured from being hit by a car, I don’t know.”

All four of Hardie’s Treeing Walker Hounds went in on the cougar. “They all went in face-to-face with the cat,” he said. Unfortunately one of the hounds was killed while “two of the others were sliced up pretty bad”.

“The one that was killed was 2 ½ years old and was my second lead dog,” said Hardie. “They’ve never been whacked up as bad as this.”


Account #2:

A wolf killed one dog and injured two others last week as the hounds pursued a mountain lion in the Roscoe-Luther area, according to the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

“Wolves can be aggressive toward dogs at any time of the year, but we do document an increase at this time of the year,” said Carolyn Sime, FWP’s wolf project leader.

Beginning in December and continuing through February, male wolves are wandering and competing for mates in advance of the breeding season.

“That aggressive behavior can transfer over to domestic dogs,” Sime said.

“The reason they attack dogs is they think there’s a strange wolf in their territory,” said Ed Bangs, western gray-wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Hunting dogs are often a target because they’re barking and baying, notifying wolves that they’re in the area, he added.

The number of dogs reported killed by wolves in Montana since 1990 is 40, according to preliminary data from FWP. That compares with 22 in Wyoming and 60 in Idaho.

“We think that’s low because people don’t always report that kind of stuff,” Sime said.

Wolves are also known to kill other wolves in territorial disputes, as well as coyotes


http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-an...03286.html

Red Dog Wrote:Wolf kills young black bear which looks close to its size:





1 or 2 wolves kills yearling grizzly bear:

[Image: WolfKillsYearlingGrizzlyBear.jpg]

Red Dog Wrote:From Reddhole:

[Image: Wolfkilledbysinglewolfwisconsin.jpg]

A wolf carcass was found on the Upper South Fork of the Shoshone River in the Trophy
Game area. Department personnel suspect it was killed by another wolf. The carcass has
been sent to the department’s laboratory for further analysis to determine the exact cause
of death.



We may be seeing two groups broken up by neighboring packs: One pack in Zone 1 where the breeding female has died from
intraspecific aggression (killed by another wolf)
and the remaining
adult males have shown movements outside their home range, and one pair in Zone 2 where the breeding female is over 12 years old.

Wolves are like humans for having such complex family relationships.  Wolves are also like some humans in that they wage complete warfare toward their neighbors. An alpha wolf typically kills one to three wolves in his or her lifetime.

http://www.isleroyalewolf.org/overview/o...olves.html

In the beginning, the pack consisted of four 6.5 year old male wolves: Moody, Ludo, Dobby and Snipe.

Two wolves had to be put down during the study period (Dobby after 22 trials, Snipe after 68 trials). About two month after Dobby’s dead the hierarchy of the pack became unstable. After another month Moody and Snipe had a severe fight ending with Snipe being put down due to his injuries (Safari Park keepers, pers. comm., 2009).

Red Dog Wrote:In regards to prime age adult moose rarely being killed, this is generally the case, but there are exceptions. In general wolves do disproportionately kill more moose calves and old adults, but they still do kill some prime aged adult moose and in some areas they do kill prime  aged adult moose quite a bit. Here is an example showing the proportion of different aged moose killed in some studies - some studies show a substantial proportion of prime-aged adult moose being killed. IMHO, this is likely due to the lack of alternative prey.


[Image: AgeofMooseKilledinVariousStudies001.jpg]

Red Dog Wrote:[Image: Wolfkillingeagles006.jpg]

Red Dog Wrote:Below are the known wolf predation accounts on wolverines. While many of them have more than one wolf in the area, it does not mean that more than 1 wolf did the killing. For example, in Yellowstone packs are on average about 15 members, but 2-3 members are usually only involved in killing adult elk (far larger than a wolverine with many more attack points). 

Along that line of thinking, when the reports are read closely, its clear that the wounds are indicative of not many wolves or one wolf attacking. For example, there are relatively few bites, and they are often in vital areas. In contrast, wolf pack kills of black bears and cougars showed bites on nearly every square inch of the victim's body (indicative of many mouths attacking).

Also, IMHO, it is incorrect to assume that just because many members of a wolf pack were near a wolverine, it means "an entire pack is needed to kill them." In reality, wolverines and wolves mostly compete in winter (in summer wolverines live at higher elevations and consume small mammals), which is the time when wolves are most social. Thus, any encounter is likely to have more than one wolf present - but that doesn't mean all are needed to kill a wolverine.

In reality, it would be difficult to "prove" that a single wolf killed a fox because other wolves may be nearby. However, few people would doubt it could occur. 

Finally, lone wolves generally have little incentive to kill a wolverine. A lone wolf does not have a territory - and wolves generally only kill wolverines to remove a competitor from their territories (most killed wolverines were not eaten much). Thus, a lone wolf is not territorial and has little incentive to take on the risk of killing a wolverine.

Also, most lone wolves are young, dispersing animals.

With that being said, there are two cases of lone wolves killing a wolverine in the accounts below. 1 wolverine had 1 leg in a trap (but apparently could still move) and 1 account from Inuit cited in a modern study of wolf predation on wolverines. A third case of a lone wolf killing a wolverine is possible below - where "one or more" wolves killed a wolverine.

The Predation Accounts

[Image: Burkholder1962001.jpg]
 
[Image: Boles1977001.jpg]
 
[Image: Boles1977002.jpg]
 
[Image: Banci1987001.jpg]
 
[Image: White2002001.jpg]
 
Single Wolf Dominating a Wolverine on 3 Occasions

Summary

[Image: Murie1963001.jpg]

Detailed Accounts

[Image: Muriefirstwolf.jpg]

[Image: Murie003.jpg]

[Image: Murie004.jpg]

Red Dog Wrote:Below are two new accounts of wolf-wolverine interactions.

Single Wolf Chases off Wolverine Near Carcass

The first is from Adolph Murie's "The Grizzly Bears of Mount McKinley" and highlights some grizzly bear, wolf, and wolverine interactions near a carcass. Specifically, at the bottom of the second paragraph it states "a wolf, after chasing a wolverine up a tree, came to the carcass and fed undisturbed."

[Image: murie_bear_wolf_wolverine.png]

This would now be 4 cases of lone wolves chasing off wolverine, 2 near  carcasses. This would be in addition to the potentially 3 cases of lone wolves killing wolverines (from my previous post).

Three Wolves Chase a Wolverine Near a Carcass

The following account is from Bjarvell and Isakson,"Winter Ecology of a Pack of Three Wolves in Northern Sweden" from the book "Wolves of the World", 1982.

Pack Composition:

As you can see below, the pack contained a large wolf and two smaller wolves. My guess is that it was a male, female and a pup/yearling or an adult wolf with two pups/yearlings.

[Image: WolfPackStructurefromNortherenSwede.jpg]

The Account:

Notice how it occurred at a wolf-kill (wolverine should be motivated to take it) and that the wolves chased for 500 meters and the wolverine ran for 2 KM. Thus, the wolverine must have perceived a very significant risk if it ran for 1.5 KM AFTER the wolves (two of which were small) stopped chasing.

[Image: WolvesChasingaWolverineinNorthernSw.jpg]


Authors' Analysis:

The authors cite how this case is consistant with the (Murie, 1963) and (Burkholder, 1962) cases (both in my previous post). (Murie, 1963) involved 3 case of single wolves chasing/treeing wolverine and (Burkholder, 1962) involved 3 wolves killing a wolverine (though iits not clear how many actually were physically involved). Thus, both lone wolves and packs are aggressive toward wolverines, and wolverines avoid them based on the available scientific evidence.

[Image: WolvesChasingaWolverineinNorther-1.jpg]
[Image: WolvesChasingaWolverineinNorther-2.jpg]

Red Wrote:Below is a study presented at the 1st Symposium on Wolverines.

Notice the following facts from the abstract below:

82.6% of the wolverine's diet comes from scavenged moose. Thus, a wolverine should have  a strong incentive to steal wolf kills.

The last sentence - "We found no evidence for the importance of direct intra-guild interactions for wolverines to localize food, and it seems wolverines actively avoid close-contact with wolves and prefer old carcasses, probably due to the risk intra-guild predation at fresh wolf kills." Thus, wolverines actively avoid wolves here due to the risks of potential intra-guild predation.

Wolf packs in this area tend to be small, usually a pair and pups of the year.

[Image: Wolverine-WolfInteractioninNorway00.jpg]

Red Dog Wrote:From ScottWolverine:

The following is taken from the book (Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation)
By L. David Mech, Luigi Boitani.

[Image: wolfwolverine3.jpg]

Red Dog Wrote:In July 2003 a radio-marked female wolverine was assumed killed
by wolves together with one of her three cubs within the study area. The leftovers, with bite
marks from large canids, were found only several kilometres from a rendezvous site of a wolf
pack followed by GPS-transmitters and no (feral) dogs are known to use the area (Landa et al. unpublished data). Also predation of wolverines by wolves has previously been documented (Novikov 1962; Hornocker and Hash 1981; Bjärvall and Isakson 1982; Banci 1994; Copeland 1996; Magoun and Copeland 1998). Spatial and temporal avoidance of wolves is furthermore, indicated by our observations of wolverines making primary use of high elevations (based on their marking behavior, defecations, urinations, resting places and hunting attempts) with short-term excursions to find food sources at lower elevations.


and

Predation of wolverines by wolves has previously been documented (Novikov 1962;
Hornocker & Hash 1981; Bjärvall & Isakson 1982; Banci 1994; Copeland 1996; Magoun &
Copeland 1998), and the lack of observations in which wolverines followed wolf trails may
indicate that wolverines experience intra-guild predation and interference by wolves (Linnell
& Strand 2000).



http://www.jerv.info/Info/vDijk_PhDthesis_2008.pdf

The paper notes that 2 wolf packs existed in the area and ranged from 2-11 members, but in Scandinavia these are almost always a pair with young. Also, 2 lone wolves frequented the area. It is quite possible the wolverine was killed by 1 or 2 adults.

Red Dog Wrote:
Quote: Concerning skulls and bite forces......
Female leopards according to sunquist don't really have much of a sagittal crest.
-Do female wolves show similar sexual dimorphism(other than size)?

Scott,

There is definitely sexual dimorphism in wolves, but not as much as in big cats. Here is some skull size data for canis lupus occidentalis (additional specimens from what I listed previously):

[Image: WolfSkullSizesSex003.jpg]

Here are leopard skull sizes by sex - they are more sexually dimorphic than wolves:

[Image: LeopardSkullSizesSex004.jpg]

Both cranial and postcranial morphology studies indicate that male wolves are much more specialized for killing prey than females.

This comes from the wolf skull study above:

There is a significant positive relationship between cranial size and mean prey weight in wolves of both sexes. The higher level of significance in the relationship between zygomatic width and mean primary prey weight, for male wolves relative to fernale wolves,
suggests that males may be more specialized for hunting and killing large ungulate prey.


This comes from a study on postcranial morphology of Northwest Territories wolves:

[Image: WolfSexualDimorphism005.jpg]
[/quote]
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]


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