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Computer Simulation of Vasectomy for Wolf Control

Robert G. Haight and L. David Mech
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 61, No. 4 (Oct., 1997), pp. 1023-1031
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3802099
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3802099
Page Count: 9
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Computer Simulation of Vasectomy for Wolf Control
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Abstract

Recovering gray wolf (Canis lupus) populations in the Lake Superior region of the United States are prompting state management agencies to consider strategies to control population growth. In addition to wolf removal, vasectomy has been proposed. To predict the population effects of different sterilization and removal strategies, we developed a simulation model of wolf dynamics using simple rules for demography and dispersal. Simulations suggested that the effects of vasectomy and removal in a disjunct population depend largely on the degree of annual immigration. With low immigration, periodic sterilization reduced pup production and resulted in lower rates of territory recolonization. Consequently, average pack size, number of packs, and population size were significantly less than those for an untreated population. Periodically removing a proportion of the population produced roughly the same trends as did sterilization; however, more than twice as many wolves had to be removed than sterilized. With high immigration, periodic sterilization reduced pup production but not territory recolonization and produced only moderate reductions in population size relative to an untreated population. Similar reductions in population size were obtained by periodically removing large numbers of wolves. Our analysis does not address the possible effects of vasectomy on larger wolf populations, but it suggests that the subject should be considered through modeling or field testing.

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