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Large Mammal Unit 1. The Wolf is Largest member of the dog family They are socially active and intelligent animals. Adult male wolves average about 70-110.

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Presentation on theme: "Large Mammal Unit 1. The Wolf is Largest member of the dog family They are socially active and intelligent animals. Adult male wolves average about 70-110."— Presentation transcript:

1 Large Mammal Unit 1

2 The Wolf is Largest member of the dog family They are socially active and intelligent animals. Adult male wolves average about 70-110 lbs. Adult female wolves average about 50-85 lbs. They stand about 26 - 32 inches high at the shoulder Measure 4 to 6 feet in length from nose to tail tip. 2

3 Legs and feet Their legs and feet are longer than other canines Can travel long distances at high speeds Their feet are large and blocky, enabling them to walk on slippery ice and on top of snow (like snowshoes). 3

4 Muzzle Has a long muzzle with powerful jaws and long sharp teeth Large canine teeth Well adapted for a predator Strong enough to crush bones 4

5 Tail Tail is long and furry Serves as an excellent insulator when the wolf curls up and tucks its muzzle into the tail 5

6 Physical Characteristics With its prominent facial markings, the wolf resembles a German Shepard. Two Layers of fur Dense under fur Covered by coarse guard hairs enables the wolf to shed moisture and adds warmth. Color phases range from white to gray to black, with grizzle gray the most common. The wolf is often confused with its cousin the coyote. 6

7 Color phases range from white to gray to black, with grizzle gray the most common. 7 The wolf is often confused with its cousin the coyote

8 Wolf Versus Coyote The wolf has a broader muzzle, shorter ears, and is 2 to 3 time larger. Wolves also generally lack the yellow and reddish tones in their coats. 8

9 Senses Smell – wolves are able to detect odors over a mile away. Their sense of smell is 100 times greater than humans. They rely heavily on their sense of smell for survival. It helps them locate food. Hearing – wolves have an acute sense of hearing. They are able to hear up to distances over four miles. Vision – a wolf’s vision is very sharp in detecting movement. The wolf, however, relies a great deal more on its hearing and smell for survival. 9

10 Red Wolf Preferred habitat is Mexico, Southern India and Southeast and Southwest United states Believed to be a hybrid of a wolf and coyote Shorter reddish outer coat and they live in warmer climates than the gray wolf 10

11 Wolf versus Dog Wolf is considered to be the original dog Many dog breeds resemble the wolf Dog-Wolf crosses are called a demiwolf Belong to the same family “Canidae” as Jackal and fox Same gestation length, teeth structure and vocalization Wolves have a scent gland that dogs don’t Different gait Wolves breed once a year, dogs twice Wolf skull is longer, wider and flatter than a dog’s 11

12 History In the late 19 th and early 20 th century wolves were eliminated from the most accessible regions of the US. This included shooting, trapping, poisoning, and in latter stages, aerial hunting. By 1918 the wolf had been eliminated from the southern 2/3 of MN. 12

13 History In 1849 a $3 bounty was placed on timber wolves. The bounty was removed in 1965. From 1969 to 1974 certified trappers were authorized to take depredating wolves. Wolves became protected in most of the Superior National Forest in 1970 13

14 History The wolf remained unprotected outside the forest until 1974. This is when federal protection was afforded under a more stringent Endangered Species Act. In 1978 the wolf was reclassified to “threatened”. This allowed federal authorities to kill wolves when livestock killings were verified. 14

15 Distribution Wolves formerly occupied most of the northern hemisphere. An estimated 25,000 wolves exist in Canada. 5 to 10 thousand in Alaska. MN has the largest wolf population in the lower 48 states. 15

16 Historic and Present Range of Canis Lupus 16

17 Distribution During the last 15 years, wolves have increased and expanded their range south and west. They are now found in 37,700 square miles. 17

18 Wolves in Minnesota Estimated at fewer than 750 animals in the 1950s, Minnesota's wolf population is the largest population in the lower 48 states. The 2012-13 estimate is 2,211 wolves in Minnesota Down from the 2007-08 estimate of 2,921 Minnesota’s minimum mid-winter goal is at least 1,600 wolves. 18

19 Endangered Species removal Minnesota's wolves transitioned from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act to state management by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Jan. 27, 2012. Listed as a threatened species Dan Stark MN DNR Wolf Specialist on Minnesota's Wolf Population Wolf Discussions from the MN DNR 19

20 The 2012 Minnesota Legislature passed a bill providing for the first-ever wolf season. A statewide winter population of 1,600 wolves is the minimum goal. If Minnesota's wolf population falls below this minimum, DNR will take immediate and appropriate management actions to reverse the decline and restore the population to its minimum. The target harvest was 400 wolves. 413 wolves were harvested. 20

21 What is the value of the wolf Effects of predation – there are many benefits of predation on the ecosystem. Aesthetic value and economic value – many communities benefit from tourism. They also value the wildness of having wilderness in their backyard. Scientific research - the study of the ecology of wolf communities and principles of predator prey relationships have benefited sociology, and behavior sciences. 21

22 Natural History About 90% of MN’s wolves live in social groups called packs. Packs generally have five to eight members. A male, female, and their pups, plus sub-adult offspring. The pack is a highly ordered social system based on dominance. Leader is called thee Alpha male and his mate is the Alpha female. An individuals ranking within the pack is determined by pecking order. Lowest ranking is the outcast 22

23 Natural History A wolf pack typically defends a well defined area. Territories are usually 30 to 120 square miles. Unless prey is scarce, a pack will avoid crossing into a neighboring territory. Howling advertises territorial claims and also functions to assemble the pack. 23

24 How do wolves communicate audibly? Howling Communal – life is good Inter pack – avoidance mechanism Intra pack – location query Identify individual wolves Limit the audible range of the howling Woofs, barks, growls – Heightened chance of aggression Squeaks, moans, 24

25 Wolves communicate through posture and movement 25

26 Visual communication Messages are conveyed through facial expression 26

27 Tail Posture 27

28 Marking the territory Scent Glands Urine Marking Raised leg urination Dominant males Flexed leg urinationDominant females Squat urination Submissive females Other means Defecation Scraping with paws Scent rolling 28

29 Wolves are Territorial & Nomadic Buffer zones between packs Wolves eliminate mesopredators such as coyotes, raccoons and fox 29

30 What are wolf packs? Breeding pair The rest of the pack Physically grown siblings not yet of breeding age Pups of the year usually born in late April and early May Dispersers and floaters Den is rendezvous point Wolf numbers seldom achieve a density of more than 1 per 7 to 10 square miles. 30

31 Natural History Mating occurs in February. First stage is called courtship behavior Starvation conditions will halt gestation Pup mortality can be as high as 50 % or more. Unlike domestic dogs, the wolf can only mate once a year. This is usually done by the dominant pair in the pack. 31

32 Natural History Birthing process is called whelping Four to seven young are born 60 - 63 days later. This is done in a excavated burrow, hollow log, or rock crevice. After weaning the pups are moved to an area above ground, usually near water. 32

33 Regurgitation One aspect of parental care by wolves (Canis lupus) is regurgitation or disgorging food to family members. After feeding, wolves regurgitate to their pups or to the breeding female. Supplements food carried in the mouth 33

34 Natural History The care, feeding and education of the pups is shared by all pack members. By October the pups are old enough to travel and hunt with the adult. Wolves reach sexual maturity at about 22 months of age. Wolves often disperse from the pack at this time. 34

35 Wolves Summary Apex Predator Family oriented Self regulating population based on number of prey species and disease Lead a short and dangerous life Harmless to people Dangerous to other animals including livestock and pets 35

36 What animals do wolves prey on? Old, lame, infirm and young Hoofed mammals Deer and Elk Moose Livestock Smaller mammals Beaver Rabbits Rodents 36

37 Food Habits The primary food of the timber wolf is the white-tailed deer. Fawns and old animals comprise the majority of wolf killed deer. It is estimated that 1 wolf takes an average of 20 deer/year including newborn fawns. Wolves supplement their diet with beaver, snowshoe hare, and other small animals. A wolf can consume 20 pounds of meat at a time and then go for long periods without eating 37

38 Food Habits Moose are an important source of food where deer are scarce. Wolves have the ability to size up prey. This ability to assess the odds of successfully taking prey saves the wolves time and energy and reduces the risk of being injured. A healthy deer or moose will generally escape an attack by outrunning the wolf. 38

39 Management The maturation of northeastern forests has caused deer populations in the area to decline because older forests do not contain saplings. Since deer are a primary food source for wolves, the population declines, increased wolf dispersal, and range expansion. Range expansion into more settled areas increases the potential for conflict with people. 39

40 Management Livestock depredation by wolves affects only a small number of MN livestock producers. About 40 farmers experience losses to wolves in the state each year. In response about 80 wolves are killed each year by US Department of Ag trappers. 45,000 is paid by the MN Dept. of Ag to partially compensate farmers for their losses. 40

41 Major causes of wolf mortality Starvation Caught trespassing in other pack’s territory Territory invaded by other packs Killed by intended prey Disease By humans Trapping Hunting Poisoning 41

42 Two stages of the wolf hunt 42 Stalking or Encounter Rush or Chase

43 What is the “Dance of Death”? Predator sizes up large potential prey Is prey vulnerable, safe to test and attack Potential prey tries to discourage predator Wolves approach 20 moose for everyone they attack 43

44 Moose tries to flee 44

45 Moose Collapses 45

46 Moose meets his end 46

47 47

48 What happens when you remove predators from an environment? Diseased herbivores are not removed by predators Disease spread more readily through animals Over browse target vegetation Learn to browse invasive species and end up spreading Can lead to prey collapse as herbivores numbers decline due to food shortage 48

49 Death of a prey animal The carcass decomposes adding nutrients to the soil. Lush green vegetation grows from the nutrient rich soil. The vegetation attracts small rodents and. The small animals draw fox and other predators, providing for their dietary needs. The remains of prey animals also provide food for other scavenger animals such as :ravens, eagles, weasels, etc. 49

50 Starvation is the number 1 killer of wildlife Winter is starvation’s most effective enabler Natural selection determines who grows up and breeds. Surface area to volume ratio determines heat retention in warm- blooded animals 50

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