Study looks at wolf population decline
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
October 16, 2009
The European Journal of Wildlife Research includes an 11-page paper entitled "Historical dynamics of a declining wolf population: persecution vs. prey reduction" by J. Fernandez and N. Ruiz de Azua. Here's the abstract of the paper:
"Using records from archives detailing bounties for wolves killed in northern Spain during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, we investigated demographic and spatial distribution parameters of the population to determine whether direct persecution or prey availability was responsible for the observed population decline. Captures of adult, subadult, and young individuals, including those of litters, showed a downward trend. Progressive decreases in age ratio and litter size, and the increase in the proportion of males, were compatible with a population under food stress, driven by the extinction of wild ungulates, the sharp reduction in livestock numbers, and the lack of alternative prey. The immigration and dispersal process does not seem to have functioned under such conditions. In the study area, where strychnine was not used until the end of the nineteenth century, the broadly accepted idea of human persecution
having an exclusive or primary role in wolf decline does not necessarily apply."