Conservation and Trapping News

Wolves: Human-caused mortality triggers pack instability in gray wolves
Jan 19, 2023 09:48 ET


Transboundary movement of wildlife results in some of the most complicated and unresolved wildlife management issues across the globe. Depending on the location and managing agency, gray wolf (Canis lupus) management in the US ranges from preservation to limited hunting to population reduction. Most wildlife studies focus on population size and growth rate to inform management, but relatively few examine species biological processes at scales aside from that of the population. This is especially important for group-living species such as the gray wolf, for which the breeding unit is the social group. We analyzed data for gray wolf packs living primarily within several US National Park Service units (years of data): Denali National Park and Preserve (33 years), Grand Teton National Park (23 years), Voyageurs National Park (12 years), Yellowstone National Park (27 years), and Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve (23 years). We identified two gray wolf biological processes that differed from population size – namely, pack persistence and reproduction – and determined that while human-caused mortality had negative effects on both, pack size had a moderating effect on the impacts of mortality.

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