The effects of harvest on wolf dispersal
January 2023 - July 2026
- Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Gray wolves are a managed big game species in Idaho. Hunting and trapping as well as control for livestock depredations can influence wolf pack structure and the dispersal decisions made by individuals. We currently do not know how do groups backfill after harvest or targeted removal or what impact harvest has on dispersal. We propose to combine data from IDFGs annual wolf monitoring program with genetic samples from harvested wolves as well as those from a 16 year study collecting genetic samples in Idaho to answer questions about the effects of harvest on wolf dispersal.
We propose generating population-level genetic metrics (e.g., private alleles, Fst, r) for harvested wolves in three IDFG wolf density strata to test whether there is genetic evidence for nearby vs far away immigrants as a function of wolf density and harvest rate. We will also use data from long-term study areas where we have observed full pack turnover. Lastly, we propose to build a predictive model using prey data, IDFG wolf density strata, and relatedness to identify dispersers from harvest data and estimate dispersal rates as a function of harvest rate, prey abundance, wolf density, and other relevant covariates.