Pack Size of Wolves, Canis lupus, on Caribou, Rangifer tarandus, Winter Ranges in Westcentral Alberta

Gerald W. Kuzyk, Jeff Kneteman, Fiona K. A. Schmiegelow

Abstract


We studied pack size of Wolves (Canis lupus) on Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) winter ranges in westcentral Alberta. These Caribou winter ranges are experiencing increasing pressure from resource extraction industries (forestry, energy sector) and concerns have been raised regarding increased Wolf predation pressure on Caribou in conjunction with landscape change. Thirty-one Wolves, from eight Wolf packs, were fitted with radiocollars on two Caribou winter ranges in the Rocky Mountain foothills, near Grande Cache, Alberta (2000-2001). There was a mean of 8.2 Wolves/pack and between 30 and 39 Wolves on each of the RedRock/Prairie Creek and Little Smoky Caribou ranges. The average pack size of Wolves in this region does not appear to have increased over that recorded historically, but the range (5-18) in the number of Wolves per pack varied considerably over our study area. Wolves preyed predominately on Moose (Alces alces), averaging one Moose kill every three to five days. There was some indication that pack size was related to prey size, with the smallest pack preying on Deer (Odocoileus spp.). It was clear that Caribou could not be the primary prey for Wolves, due to their low numbers, and relative to the pack size and Wolf kills we observed.

Keywords


Wolf; Canis lupus; Caribou; Rangifer tarandus; Moose; Alces alces; White-tailed Deer; Odocoileus virginianus; predation; pack size; colour phase; kills; Alberta

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22621/cfn.v120i3.321



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