Gray Wolves (Canis lupus) consume free-ranging horses (Equus ferus caballus) on the Chilcotin plateau, British Columbia
Keywords:Gray wolf, Canis lupus, scat, wolves, free-ranging horse, Equus ferus caballus, predator, prey, diet, hunt, scavenge
We analyzed 122 Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) scats, collected at all seasons during 2013–2017, to determine what wolves were eating in two adjacent study areas of the Chilcotin region, British Columbia: Brittany Triangle and Nemiah Valley. Free-ranging horses (Equus ferus caballus), Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Moose (Alces americanus), and small mammals contributed to wolf diet throughout the year. In both study areas, horse appeared more frequently than other species in occurrence-per-faeces (OF) and occurrence-per-item (OI) analyses. Horse occurred in 58 of 97 wolf scats from Brittany (OF 59.8%, OI 52.7%), deer in 26 (OF 26.8%, OI 23.6%), small mammals in 17 (OF 17.5%, OI 17.3%), Moose in four (OF 4.1%, OI 3.6%), and bird and fish minimally (both OF <2.5%, OI <2.5%). The sample size in the more human-developed Nemiah Valley was too small to estimate reliable patterns, but results suggest a similar ranking of dietary items. Domestic Cattle (Bos taurus), available in both study areas, appeared infrequently (combined area OF <3.5%, OI <3.0%). Based on our scat findings, free-ranging horses were a regular dietary item for wolves in the area. Studies elsewhere have found that, where wolves and free-ranging horses are sympatric, a predator–prey relationship exists.
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