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Winter Prey Selection by Wolves and Cougars in and Near Glacier National Park Montana

Kyran E. Kunkel, Toni K. Ruth, Daniel H. Pletscher and Maurice G. Hornocker
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 63, No. 3 (Jul., 1999), pp. 901-910
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3802804
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3802804
Page Count: 10
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Winter Prey Selection by Wolves and Cougars in and Near Glacier National Park Montana
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Abstract

Expansion by wolf (Canis lupus) populations in the western United States creates new opportunities and challenges for researching and managing large mammal predator-prey systems. Therefore, we compared patterns of prey selection between wolves and cougars (Puma concolor) to ascertain the effects of multiple predators on prey and on each other. Because of differences in hunting techniques, we predicted that wolves would kill more vulnerable classes of prey than cougars. Our results did not support this prediction. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) composed the greatest proportion of wolf (0.83) and cougar kills (0.87), but elk (Cervus elaphus) and moose (Alces alces) composed a larger proportion of wolf (0.14, 0.03, respectively) than cougar (0.06, 0.02, respectively) kills. Wolves and cougars selected older and younger deer and elk than did hunters. Cougars killed relatively more bull elk (0.74) than did wolves (0.48). Male deer killed by cougars had shorter diastema lengths than did male deer killed by wolves (P = 0.02). Pack hunting by wolves and dense stalking cover may have partially explained the failure to support predictions of the coursing versus stalking dichotomy. Wolves and cougars may be exhibiting exploitation and interference competition that is affecting each others' behavior and dynamics, and that of their prey.

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