Winter Habitat Use by Wolves, Canis lupus, in Relation to Forest Harvesting in West-central Alberta

Gerald W. Kuzyk, Jeff Kneteman, Fiona K. A. Schmiegelow

Abstract


Forested landscapes in west-central Alberta are facing increased pressures from forest harvesting and other land-use activities, which may alter the movements and distribution of Wolves and ungulates. Information on habitat use by Wolves in logged forests is scarce, potentially limiting effective land-use planning in the boreal forest. Nine Wolves, from four Wolf packs, were fitted with GPS radiocollars in the Rocky Mountain foothills, near Grande Cache, Alberta (2000-2001). We found Wolves did not use the landscape randomly, but rather exhibited a significant preference for non-forested natural habitats (shrubs, water), relative to their availability. Within forest habitats, Wolves used cutblocks proportionately more than unharvested forest and non-forested anthropogenic habitats (pipelines, clearings); however, selection of forest cutblocks was not statistically significant. We found no evidence that Wolves preferred or avoided forest cutblock edges. Wolf pack territories contained various levels of timber harvesting, but most areas were still in the early stages of harvest. Nevertheless, these areas have been allocated for large-scale harvesting. Understanding the potential responses of Wolves to rapidly changing landscape mosaics poses a significant challenge to researchers and managers, but such information is important to informing future land-management and conservation strategies for boreal forest Wolf-prey systems.

Keywords


Wolf; Canis lupus; Caribou; Rangifer tarandus; forestry; habitat; Moose; Alces alces; predation; Alberta

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22621/cfn.v118i3.15



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