Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Far Reaching Effects of Added Protection for Eastern Wolves

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Allowing wolves to express their natural social behavior benefits the wider ecosystem as well as the wolves themselves. (Dr. Gordon Haber)

In Algonquin Provincial Park eastern wolves have been protected for more than a century. Nevertheless, hunting in the surrounding townships was causing around two-thirds of total wolf deaths, primarily in winter when their main prey, white-tailed deer, roamed outside the park in search of forage. But in 2001, when hunting on the outskirts of the park was banned, an amazing transition began to unfold. Protected from hunting, not only did the Algonquin wolf population hold steady, there was also a rapid transition to more stable, family-based packs. This shift in social structure allowed younger wolves to learn sophisticated hunting strategies from their elders and better equip the family to successful hunt larger prey. With added protections, eastern wolves reclaimed their place as a keystone species within the ecosystem.

More from New Scientist.

Photo: Steve Dunsford, Impressions of Algonquin

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