Wolves scare deer and reduce automatic collisions by 24%, research says

Washington (AP) — Ecologist Rolf Peterson remembers driving a distant road on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and seeing an area littered with deer carcasses. But that changed after the gray wolves arrived in the area from Canada and Minnesota.

“When wolves arrived in the 1990s and 2000s, deer-car collisions were much less,” said a researcher at Michigan Technological University.

Recently, another team of scientists collected data on road accidents and wolf movements in Wisconsin, quantifying how wolves arriving there affected the frequency of deer-car collisions. They discovered that it created what scientists call a “landscape of horror.”

Dominique Parker, a natural resources economist and new author at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said: Research It was published in the Bulletin of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday.

According to Parker, both the wolf’s decline in deer populations and the dreaded changes in deer behavior are factors in the decline.

“If there are major predators around, it affects the behavior of the prey,” he said. “Wolves use the linear features of the landscape, such as roads, pipelines, and riverbeds, as travel corridors. Deer can learn this and adapt by moving away.”

The gray wolf, one of the first species protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, Reintroduction To Yellowstone National Park in 1995. However, in other parts of the United States, gray wolves were naturally dispersed. The 48 states of the continental United States currently have a total population of approximately 5,500.

According to a new study, the presence of wolves malicious by ranchers who are preying on livestock can also save money by indirectly reducing deer-car collisions. In 2008, Research The US Department of Transportation estimates that these accidents cost more than $ 8 billion annually.

“Most economic research on wolves was negative, focusing on livestock loss,” said Dave Mech, senior research scientist at the US Geological Survey in Minnesota. “But wolves also reshape ecosystems in many ways, which are difficult to measure economically.”

Some studies have examined tourism revenues generated by Yellowstone wolf watchers, but that money does not flow directly to the communities that live with wolves, said a new study at Wesleyan University’s Natural Resources Economist. Co-author Jennifer Reiner said.

“I wanted to find out about other ways wolves affected the area. The same is true for livestock damage, as these automatic collisions occur or do not occur in rural areas.”

Peterson of Michigan Technological University, who was not involved in the study, said: Deeper aspects of these collision costs can include significant medical costs and sometimes human deaths. “

2016 Research Cougar found that it reduced the number of deer car crashes by about 22% in parts of the eastern United States.

The wolf study “raises the awareness that scientists need to consider both the costs and benefits of keeping large carnivores in the landscape,” said a conservation biologist at the University of Wisconsin who was not involved in the study. Adrian Treves said.


Follow Christina Larson on Twitter. @larsonchristina


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