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Bears butting in on Yellowstone Wolf kills

Battle of carnivores ultimately has little effect on population.

Bears and wolves vie for a carcass in this Yellowstone National Park file photo. Park biologists say after wolves take down prey, bears often will move in to claim the kill.

Wolves and bears in Yellowstone National Park squabble over elk carcasses, but the two species have little impact on each other’s overall population, a park biologist said last week.
Park wolf biologist Doug Smith outlined research and observation regarding the interaction of the two species in front of a group of bear managers who met at Spring Creek Ranch last week. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee and the Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Subcommittee of federal and state land and wildlife officials provide oversight for grizzly bear management in the ecosystem.

“When you see wolves and bears next to each other, 95 percent of the time there’s something dead that they’re both feeding on,” Smith said. “Typically what happens is wolves kill it, and bears take it.”

“Bears generally will find and take a carcass,” Smith said. “It’s not a matter of if, but when.”

During confrontations between wolves and bears, especially over food, bears in Yellowstone win roughly 80 percent of the time, Smith said. In other places such as Banff National Park in Canada, bears win a carcass about 50 percent of the time. The reason for the discrepancy is unclear, Smith said.

That doesn’t mean wolves live up on what’s often their own hard-earned kill.

View Full Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide: http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/article.php?art_id=7239

 

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