Wolves Regulate Their Own Numbers

A myth of wildlife management asserts trophy hunts are necessary to manage wolf populations and are for the good of the pack. Recent research demonstrates wolves effectively manage their own populations—no hunting required.

From the Wolf Conservation Center:

As apex predators wolves keep their own numbers in check.

Self-regulation in large carnivores like wolves ensures that the largest and the fiercest do not overexploit their resources.

According to a recent work published in OIKOS, population control is what distinguishes wolves and other “apex predators” from the rest. Wolves are highly social animals that live in well-organized family units called packs. Cooperative living gives wolf families a number of benefits. In addition to facilitating successful hunting, pup-rearing, and defending pack territory, cooperative living allows wolves to limit their own population – for example, they control the numbers within their group by only letting certain members breed. By self-regulating— they also help to keep their ecosystems in balance.

Wolf populations stabilize when carrying capacity is reached.

Since wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone over 20 years ago, the 2+ million-acre park has acted as a laboratory, offering scientists a deeper understanding of the complexity of that ecosystem, including the diverse pressures (beyond lethal control by humans) that manage wolf populations.

Because hunting wolves is not permitted within the Park boundaries, Yellowstone offers us a chance to see what happens to wolf populations when left undisturbed by humans.”

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