Native prey distribution and migration mediates wolf (Canis lupus) predation on domestic livestock in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Canadian Journal of Zoology
By: , and 

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Abstract

Little research has evaluated how the migration and distribution of native prey influence patterns of livestock depredation by large carnivores. Previous research suggests that the presence of native prey can increase depredation rates by attracting predators (prey tracking hypothesis). Alternatively, the absence of native prey may facilitate predation on livestock (prey scarcity hypothesis). In this study, we evaluated support for these competing hypotheses through analysis of 4 years of cattle (Bos taurus L., 1758) depredation data (n = 39 kills), 2 years of summer and fall wolf (Canis lupus L., 1758) predation and tracking data (n = 4 wolves), and 3 years of elk (Cervus elaphus L., 1758) movement data (n = 70 elk). We used logistic regression to compare the relative influence of landscape features and elk distribution on the risk of livestock depredation in areas with migratory and resident elk. Cattle depredations occurred in habitats with increased encounter rates between wolves and livestock. In resident elk areas, depredation sites were associated with elk distribution and open roads. In migratory elk areas, depredation sites were associated with wolf dens, streams, and open habitat. Patterns of carnivore–livestock conflicts are complex, and using ungulate distribution data can predict and minimize such instances.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Native prey distribution and migration mediates wolf (Canis lupus) predation on domestic livestock in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Series title Canadian Journal of Zoology
DOI 10.1139/cjz-2015-0094
Volume 94
Issue 4
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher NRC Research Press
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Seattle
Description 9 p.
First page 291
Last page 299
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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