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The Vancouver Island wolf (Canis lupus crassodon) : an initial study of food habits and social organization Scott, Barbara Mary Victoria


The food habits and social organization of Vancouver Island wolves (Canis lupus crassodon Hall) inhabiting an area on Northeastern Vancouver Island were studied from January, 1977 through January, 1979. During this period, two adjacent packs were studied in detail between March and November, 1978. Three members of the Upper Adam pack, an adult male, adult female and yearling female, were captured, fitted with radio-transmitters and subsequently radio-tracked for five months (April to August, 1978). The same procedures were carried out on the adult male and female of the Lower Adam pack, who were radio-tracked for eight and five months respectively (April to November; April to August). A lone male was captured and tracked for eight months (November, 1978 to June, 1979). Black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) were the major prey in the diet of both packs, while Roosevelt elk (Cervus elaphus roosevelti) and beaver (Castor canadensis leucodontus) were utilized as secondary food sources. Seasonal variation in the diet of the wolves was apparent, with deer fawns and elk calves constituting the bulk of the summer (June 1 to August 31) diet. Beaver were taken primarily during the winter months. Individual packs showed different foraging patterns. The lower pack depended less upon adult elk during the winter and more upon ungulate young during the summer, while the Upper pack utilized relatively more adult elk during the winter with more emphasis on adult deer as opposed to ungulate young during the summer. The Upper pack consisted of ten individuals, two adult males, one adult female, one yearling femaling, two unknown, and four pups. The radio-collared members inhabited a 64 km2 home range. Wolf density within their home range was one per 6.4 km2. The Lower pack consisted of five individuals including one adult male, one adult female, and three pups which ranged throughout a 75 km2 area. Density within this area was one wolf per 15 km2. Den sites were situated within pristine coniferous timber where hollow logs, tree bases and root systems were utilized for denning purposes. Both packs occupied densites from late April until mid-July. During the post-denning period rendezvous sites were frequented, situated in open meadows bordering on timber stands or river side areas. Both types of sites were generally typified by a water source nearby, structural suitability giving a view of the surrounding area, activity and resting areas, and several well used trails. Seasonal shifts in the use of core areas of home ranges were apparent for both packs, and den and rendezous sites were spatio-temporally distributed at significant distances from adjacent pack sites.

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