Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Could hunting wolves actually boost wolf population?

wolves.zip
Wolf pups from the Wenaha Pack huddle in a 2012 photo. A new study indicates wolf hunting could actually cause population increases by elevating stress hormones that, in turn, encourage reproduction. ( Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife)

Oregon environment roundup

By Kelly House
November 18, 2014

The disease that's decimating sea stars off the Pacific Coast is a virus that's not new to the scene. A study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences links sea star wasting disease to a variety of densovirus—a virus that's also used to kill cockroaches and treat parvovirus infections in dogs. What caused the outbreak that continues to infect sea stars from Southern California to British Columbia is still unknown and, as the Seattle Times' Craig Welch reports, scientists still have no idea how to treat it.

Could wolf hunting as a means of population control be having the opposite effect? A study published Wednesday in the journal Functional Ecology indicates it could. According to research from scientists at the University of Calgary, wolves change their reproductive behavior in response to the stress of being hunted. In short, they have more babies. Part of the reason, the scientists conclude, is because alpha male deaths lead to social disruption, enabling lower-ranking males to breed with female pack members.

An Oregon environmental group has filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, claiming the agency hasn't done enough to protect habitat for the Canada lynx, a species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The suit comes in response to a September announcement that the Fish and Wildlife would expand protection of the cats to all areas in the lower 48 states, but the plaintiffs allege when the agency took that action, it drastically underestimated the animal's range. As such, attorney John Mellgren said in a statement, "the Service is failing its obligation to ensure that lynx can recover across the American west."

--Kelly House

source