Alberta Wolves Eat More Cattle than Thought

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The following article is from The Vancouver Sun.

By Hanneke Brooymans

Wolves are eating more cattle in southwestern Alberta than previously known, according to researchers from the University of Alberta.

Andrea Morehouse and Mark Boyce tackled the research based on a request from the province’s fish and wildlife division. There had not been any wolf diet work done in southwestern Alberta and there was a growing concern among cattle producers, said Morehouse, who is now a PhD student at the University of Alberta.

Since 2000, compensation paid to livestock producers because of wolf predation on cattle rose from $45,321 to $110,046, according to their research paper, which was published online in Frontiers in Ecology and Environment on March 24.

“Southwestern Alberta is a unique part of the province in that the interface between the mountains and the prairies is very sharp and there’s a high degree of overlap between where livestock are grazing and where wildlife, including carnivores, have home ranges and territories,” Morehouse said in an interview. “This overlap means there’s probably a little more potential for conflict here than elsewhere in the province, so that’s why we focused down there.”


Wolf diet research is usually done by analyzing scat. But wolves also scavenge, so what’s in scat isn’t necessarily what they have killed.

Morehouse also used global positioning system technology from June 2008 through October 2009 to find where clusters of wolves had been to help figure out what they were eating and whether the wolves had killed the prey themselves. The technology was particularly useful in the summer.

“Producers in southwestern Alberta put their cows in the forest reserve in roughly May and pull them out in roughly October, and they’re often a few head short,” Morehouse said. “So they’re missing a few cattle and they’ve long suspected that wolves are accounting for the ones that are missing. But they haven’t had evidence to support that claim.

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Source:  The Vancouver Sun

Posted by Haylie Shipp

 

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