Human-caused mortality triggers pack instability in gray wolves

Kira A. Cassidy, Bridget L. Borg, Kaija J. Klauder, Mathew S. Sorum, Rebecca Thomas-Kuzilik, Sarah R. Dewey, John A. Stephenson, Daniel R. Stahler, Thomas D Gable, Joseph K. Bump, Austin Homkes, Steven K Windels, Douglas W. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Transboundary movement of wildlife results in some of the most complicated and unresolved wildlife management issues across the globe. Depending on the location and managing agency, gray wolf (Canis lupus) management in the US ranges from preservation to limited hunting to population reduction. Most wildlife studies focus on population size and growth rate to inform management, but relatively few examine species biological processes at scales aside from that of the population. This is especially important for group-living species such as the gray wolf, for which the breeding unit is the social group. We analyzed data for gray wolf packs living primarily within several US National Park Service units (years of data): Denali National Park and Preserve (33 years), Grand Teton National Park (23 years), Voyageurs National Park (12 years), Yellowstone National Park (27 years), and Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve (23 years). We identified two gray wolf biological processes that differed from population size – namely, pack persistence and reproduction – and determined that while human-caused mortality had negative effects on both, pack size had a moderating effect on the impacts of mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)356-362
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Denali National Park and Preserve would like to thank L Adams, S Arthur, J Burch, D Mech, and T Meier for project leadership and data collection, as well as pilots T Cambier, S Hamilton, D Miller, R Swisher, and L Williams. Grand Teton National Park would like to thank M Jimenez, S Woodruff, and G Lust of Mountain Air Research; D Stinson, B Hawkins, K Overfield, and T Schell of Sky Aviation; M Packila of Wildlife Air; and J Pope and crew of Leading Edge. The University of Minnesota would like to acknowledge funding for this project provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, as recommended by the Legislative‐Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. Yellowstone National Park (YNP) would like to thank Living with Wolves, especially Jim and Jamie Dutcher, and G Dutcher, as well as Yellowstone Forever, A Graham and B Graham, V Gates, K Yeager and F Yeager, and the Browning family; YNP also thanks M Packila of Wildlife Air, R Stradley of Gallatin Flying Service, S Ard of Tracker Aviation, B Hawkins of Sky Aviation, J Pope and crew of Leading Edge, and T Woydziak of Baker Aviation. Yukon‐Charley Rivers National Preserve would like to thank J Burch, K Joly, M Cameron, and J Pruszenski for field data collection, and pilots T Cambier, R Swisher, H McMahan, M Stott, S McMillan, G Lee, and B Niegus. All parks would like to thank the National Park Service, Living With Wolves (especially Jim Dutcher, Jamie Dutcher, and G Dutcher), and the Val A Browning Foundation. Our deepest thanks to the many field technicians, volunteers, and community members who helped us collect the data that are the foundation of this work. : All wildlife were handled in accordance with recommendations from the American Society of Mammalogists (Sikes and the Animal Care and Use Committee of the American Society of Mammalogists 2016 ) and capture protocols were approved by NPS veterinarians (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee numbers: DNPP: AKR_DENA_Borg_Wolves_2019.A3, GTNP: WY_GRTE_Stephenson_Wolf_2020.A3, VNP: MWR_VOYA_WINDELS_WOLF & 1905‐37051A, YNP: NP_Smith_Wolf_2012.A3, YCRNP: AKR_YUCH_Sorum_Wolf_2019.A3). Ethics statement

Publisher Copyright:
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment© 2022 The Authors. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of The Ecological Society of America.


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