A new study published today in the online Journal of Animal Ecology may help in the management of western wolf populations. Dr. Dan MacNulty, a professor in the College of Natural Resources at Utah State University, along with colleagues, tracked female wolves in Yellowstone National Park and monitored their success in raising healthy offspring. The study concluded that the weight of a mother wolf and the size of her pack are the best predictors of a female's ability to overcome environmental stressors like disease and raise pups successfully.
MacNulty explains how this research could be applied to the management of wolves:
"Managers could use information on pack size, weight of harvested females, or disease prevalence as indicators of future population growth, and then they could set their harvest limits accordingly. For example, if pack sizes are small, female wolves are underweight, and diseases out brakes occur, managers could reduce the harvest. But, if pack sizes are relatively large and female wolves are of healthy weights, then managers can have some level of confidence that they are meeting their population objectives."