Demography of a harvested population of wolves (Canis lupus) in west-central Alberta, Canada

Authors: Webb, N.F.1; Allen, J.R.2; Merrill, E.H.1

Source: Canadian Journal of Zoology, Volume 89, Number 8, August 2011 , pp. 744-752(9)

Publisher: NRC Research Press

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Wolves (Canis lupus L., 1758) are subject to liberal public harvests throughout most of their range in North America, yet detailed information on populations where sport harvest is the primary source of mortality are limited. We studied a harvested wolf population in west-central Alberta from 2003 to 2008. Demographic data were collected from visits to den sites, 84 collared wolves from 19 packs, and a harvest monitoring program that augmented mandatory reporting for registered traplines. Annual harvest rate of wolves was 0.34, with harvest on registered traplines (0.22 ± 0.03) being twice that of hunters (0.12 ± 0.04). Most wolves harvested (71%) were pre-reproductive. Probability of a pack breeding was 0.83 ± 0.01, litter size averaged 5.6 ±1.4, and these rates and stability of home ranges were unaffected by the number of wolves harvested. Natural mortality (0.04 ± 0.03) and dispersal rates (0.25 ± 0.04) were lower than reported for wolf populations in protected areas. Reproductive rates balanced total wolf mortality, indicating harvest was likely sustainable. We suggest that a high proportion of juveniles harvested and the spatial structure of the registered trapline system contributed to the sustainability of harvests.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E9, Canada. 2: Fish and Wildlife Division, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Edmonton, AB T5K 2M4, Canada.

Publication date: August 30, 2011

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