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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Trent University(Canada) CANID AND UNGULATE ECOLOGY LAB led by Brad White, Linda Rutledge, Paul Wilson, Brent Patterson, Tyler Wheeldon is on the cutting edge of study relating to the distribution and abundance of wildlife populations.............This group of researchers are on the front line of investigation regarding Eastern Wolves, Eastern Coyotes and their interactions with Whitetail Deer, Moose and Caribou in Ontario as well as other parts of East and Midwest North America---Please take a look below at the investigations that they are undertaking currently


Our basic research interests are in determining the proximate and ultimate factors that cause changes in the distribution and abundance of wildlife populations, and more specifically in understanding the dynamics of vertebrate predator-prey systems.

 Our research approach is largely empirical, based on field studies, and makes use of advances in spatial and statistical modeling including invasive and non-invasive field sampling, resource selection functions, proportional hazards survival and hazard modelling, and spatial simulation models using GIS.

 As humans, we are the dominant driver of change in the environments we live in and share with wildlife. Accordingly, we focus on research with applied conservation and management components. Our work continues to inform management issues involving wolves, coyotes, moose, and deer in Ontario and beyond


Demographic response of eastern coyotes to intense harvesting
WRDS Research Team:

Eastern Coyote 
Project Objectives/Overview:
Coyotes range across the majority of North America and are considered the archetypal generalist, able to adapt and thrive in a variety of environments. Across this range coyotes exhibit much variation in diet, habitat use, activity patterns, and demography making them an interesting animal to study, but often a difficult one to manage. In most areas, hunting and trapping of coyotes is generally ineffective at controlling their numbers or reducing conflict with people or livestock. Given the perceived increase in coyote numbers and conflicts with humans, we are undertaking this study to learn more about life history of harvested coyotes in southern Ontario to better inform management of these animals. Specifically our objectives are:
  • to understand how coyotes are able to withstand such high levels of harvest without any detectible decline in numbers,
  • quantify the spatial and temporal aspects of coyote depredation on livestock,
  • based on the above, assess efficiency of common control options employed against coyotes in response to depredation concerns,
We are conducting this study in Prince Edward County (PEC), in southeastern Ontario. The area is mostly agricultural and supports a large livestock industry.
Funding Partners:
  • NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council)
  • MNR Applied Research and Development Branch
  • Trent University
Interesting fact! As of August 2012, we have radio-collared 120 coyotes since the project began in May 2010. Annual survival is low with fewer than half the collared coyotes surviving more than one year after marking. Food habits of this coyote population are also interesting with mice, voles, cottontails, and fruit (apples and berries) making up the majority of the diet. Unlike coyote populations in some forested areas, coyotes in PEC seem to make very little use of deer as a food item.

Effect of a Harvest Ban on Wolves

Canid and Ungulate Ecology Lab

Algonquin Provincial Park, 2002-2007

Algonquin Park is the largest protected area for wolves in Ontario. However, despite being protected within the Park's boundaries, many animals from the eastern half of Algonquin were shot, snared, or hit by cars while following migratory deer out of the Park in winter during the 1980s and 90s. This killing was cause for concern, and in November 2001 Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) announced a moratorium on all wolf hunting and trapping in the 40 townships surrounding Algonquin Park.
Eastern Wolf in Algonquin National Park
To determine the effects of this harvest ban on Algonquin wolves, we monitored 210 radio-collared wolves from 2002-2007. Pups were also surgically implanted with transmitters to monitor survival and cause-specific mortality.
Overall, we documented a moderate increase in annual survival rates of yearling and adult wolves in Algonquin Park following the ban. However, increased survival did not result in a detectable increase in either pack size or overall population density, due to high rates of dispersal by both juvenile and adult pack members and an increasing rate of natural mortality.
Although not required to prevent extirpation of wolves from the park, protection from humans seems to be helping park wolves minimize hybridization with coyotes and has resulted in a return to a more natural social structure (see Rutledge et al. 2010 in our Publications section). Research is presently underway to investigate this phenomenon more closely.
Although some populations remain strong, moose (Alces alces) density and distribution have been declining in many areas along the southern edge of their North American distribution. In many areas hunters commonly blame wolves and bears for low moose numbers, whereas excessive hunting has also been implicated in some declines.

In other populations, the causes of decline may be related primarily to factors including habitat loss and fragmentation, white-tailed deer parasites, predation, and climate change. During 2007-2009, we fit 93 adult female moose with vaginal implant transmitters to assist in locating and radio-collaring neonatal moose calves in central Ontario.

Our objectives were to measure calf survival and assess the relative importance of the various causes of death. Calves in the western half of our study area were exposed to a 6 day "open" (i.e. non lottery) hunt, whereas the eastern half of our study area occurred in Algonquin Provincial Park, where no hunting occurred. Annual survival of 87 collared calves was similar among areas and approached 62%.
 Despite annual survival being similar between areas, predation by wolves and bears was a major source of mortality only in Algonquin where it was single largest cause of death. In the portion of the study area where hunting was permitted, annual calf mortality owing to hunting was only 16%.
 We conclude that calf survival in our study area was moderate to high and that there is little justification for predator control or further restriction of calf hunting in this area.
Hybridization Dynamics between Eastern Wolves (Canis lycaon) and Coyotes (Canis latrans) in Central Ontario

Eastern wolves are listed as a species of 'Special Concern' in Canada due to concern about human impacts such as harvest and habitat loss (COSEWIC report). Whether hybridization represents a threat to the long-term persistence of eastern wolves in Ontario is not well understood. Therefore, studying hybridization dynamics between wolves and coyotes is necessary to assess the threat of hybridization to the persistence of the eastern wolf, and such studies should be conducted before eastern wolves become threatened or endangered.

Eastern Coyote


·describe the spatial distribution of wolves, coyotes, and hybrid genotypes in central Ontario
·compare fitness of wolves, coyotes, and hybrids
·investigate behavioral patterns of wolves, coyotes, and hybrids, including: a) relationships among resource use, genotype, and individual fitness, b) space use, and c) spatial interactions.
Study area
·Western Algonquin Provincial Park (APP) and in Wildlife Management Units 49 and 50 (WMU 49/50), which are located immediately west of APP

Determining the Distribution of Ontario Canis Species and their Associated Hybrids

Ontario maintains two wolf species (eastern timber wolves,Canis lycaonand Gray wolves, Canis lupus), and composite animals with both genomes (e.g.C. lycaon x lupus), so accurate estimates of densities are dependent on an accurate genetic characterization of canids in the distributions of these two species.

Gray Wolf

This work has the specific goal of analyzing new samples from "gaps" in our previous sample distribution in Ontario, and includes the analysis of wolf DNA samples from the neighbouring jurisdictions of Minnesota, Michigan, and Quebec.

 This will allow a more comprehensive analysis of the present day distribution of the various types of Ontario Canis species and allow further insight into the mechanisms promoting and preventing hybridization among the different Canid species in Ontario.

Eastern Wolf

Understanding Wolf-Caribou Interactions in Northern Ontario

Forest-dwelling caribou have experienced declining abundance and range retraction throughout large parts of the boreal zone in Ontario, resulting in the designation of woodland caribou as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act in Ontario and nationally under the federal Species at Risk Act.

 Inadequate food supplies may be one factor related to the recent declines in woodland caribou populations, but in general, unsustainable levels of predation are thought to be a major contributing factor. However, there is no reason to expect that a single factor explains caribou decline across all of Ontario and our goal is to develop a more complex model evaluation design that considers the impact of (and interactions among) multiple causal factors.

Wolves and Caribou


·use satellite radio-telemetry data for wolves across 3 areas of northern Ontario to determine patterns of movement, home range use, predation risk, survival, and offspring recruitment
·develop mechanistic movement models for woodland caribou and wolves on the basis of energy gain and predation risk
·use mechanistic movement models from ½ the study animals to predict patterns of home range use, habitat selection, and predation risk and test those predictions against field observations from the other ½ of study animals
·link the movement, energy-gain, predation risk, and vital rates sub-models with a spatially-explicit population viability model for woodland caribou
·use the PVA models to predict the long-term effect of forest disturbance from natural and anthropogenic causes on the probability of population persistence by woodland caribou and the potential caribou response to alternative management policies available to the government of Ontario
Study area
·we are conducting this work in 3 large study areas in northern Ontario; 2 disturbed landscapes south of the area of the undertaking, and a 3rd control site just west of Pickle Lake


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