Video observations of wolves hunting ungulates on linear features
June 30, 2023
Anthropogenic linear features allow wolves to travel faster and more efficiently, which is thought to increase wolf hunting efficiency of ungulates. Most previous studies have evaluated the role of linear features in wolf-ungulate dynamics by relying on indirect observations (e.g., GPS location data). Thus, there remains little direct observational data showing how wolves use linear features to hunt ungulates. Here, we present observational data (29 hunting sequences) of wolves using linear features to hunt ungulates. Linear features have largely been considered travel corridors that facilitate wolf movement and allow wolves to detect prey near (but not necessarily on) linear features. However, we clearly demonstrate wolves also use linear features as active hunting arenas where they detect, pursue, and kill prey that are also traveling directly on linear features. Our observations further suggest one of, if not the, primary way wolves detect ungulates on linear features is via olfactory cues.
Author(s): Thomas D. Gable, Sean M. Johnson-Bice, Austin T. Homkes, Joseph K. Bump