Wolves slowed down by snowfall


This 2016 video says about itself:

Wolves Master Winter Hunting

A herd of bison are on the move, with wolves hunting close behind. Will the prey outrun the predator this time?

Presented in association with World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Hello World! is a six-part series taking a look at the wonders of the natural world through the eyes of some of today’s most celebrated musicians.

In this case, the musician is Joan Jett.

From the University of Alberta in Canada:

Snowed in: Wolves stay put when it’s snowing

University of Alberta biologists examine the impact of snowfall events on wolves in northeastern Alberta

December 19, 2018

Wolves travel shorter distances and move slower during snowfall events, according to new research by University of Alberta biologists. The effects were most pronounced at night, when wolves hunt, and behaviour returned to normal within a day.

“Our findings suggest that there is something about actively falling snow that causes wolves to slow down,” said Amanda Droghini, a former MSc student in the Department of Biological Science and lead author on the study. “We don’t know the exact mechanism behind that. It’s unlikely that they were staying still because they were feasting on a recent kill. Instead, active precipitation might affect wolves‘ hunting abilities. Like rain, snow clears the air column of scent molecules. So, maybe falling snow makes it harder for wolves to detect the smell of prey.”

Over the course of two winters, the researchers used remote cameras to identify snowfall events and estimate snow depth. To study wolf movement, they collected telemetry data from 17 wolves to calculate travel speed and duration, as well as resting periods. It is the first study to examine how large carnivores respond to snowfall events.

With the effects of climate change on precipitation in the boreal forest region uncertain, it is difficult to predict the implications for wolf populations. Studies such as these increase our understanding of how large mammals react to normal snowfall events, but the type and amount of winter precipitation will likely have an impact on animal behavior and the energetic cost of movement.

“Winter is already challenging for many wildlife species because moving through snow requires more energy. Snow can also make it harder for animals to access food resources,” said Droghini, who conducted the research under the supervision of Professor Stan Boutin, Alberta Biodiversity Conservation Chair.

“Anything that increases those costs, such as increased rain-on-snow events, could lead to nutritional deficiencies, poor body condition, and even starvation as animals are unable to make up for those additional costs. That is one of the worst-case scenarios but, in truth, we know very little about potential changes to precipitation patterns and how wildlife will respond to those changes.”

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2 thoughts on “Wolves slowed down by snowfall

  1. Pingback: Wisconsin, USA carnivorous mammals, camera trap research | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: How prehistoric dogs hunted, new study | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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