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Evaluation of Age Determination Techniques for Gray Wolves

David B. Landon, Carol A. Waite, Rolf O. Peterson and L. David Mech
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 62, No. 2 (Apr., 1998), pp. 674-682
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3802343
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3802343
Page Count: 9
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Evaluation of Age Determination Techniques for Gray Wolves
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Abstract

We evaluated tooth wear, cranial suture fusion, closure of the canine pulp cavity, and cementum annuli as methods of age determination for known- and unknown-age gray wolves (Canis lupus) from Alaska, Minnesota, Ontario, and Isle Royale, Michigan. We developed age classes for cranial suture closure and tooth wear. We used measurement data obtained from known-age captive and wild wolves to generate a regression equation to predict age based on the degree of closure of the canine pulp cavity. Cementum annuli were studied in known- and unknown-age animals, and calcified, unstained thin sections were found to provide clear annulus patterns under polarized transmitted light. Annuli counts varied among observers, partly because of variation in the pattern of annuli in different regions of the cementum. This variation emphasizes the need for standardized models of cementum analysis. Cranial suture fusion is of limited utility in age determination, while tooth wear can be used to estimate age of adult wolves within 4 years. Wolves <7 years old could be aged to within 1-3 years with the regression equation for closure of the canine pulp cavity. Although inaccuracy remains a problem, cementum-annulus counts were the most promising means of estimating age for gray wolves.

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