Grizzly carcass-stealing doesn’t mean wolves kill more

In Yellowstone National Park, hungry wolves wait to access their elk kill as grizzly bears feast on the spoils - Daniel Stahler, NPS

In Yellowstone National Park, hungry wolves wait to access their elk kill as grizzly bears feast on the spoils – Daniel Stahler, NPS

Science is at its best when it produces unexpected results . . .

Research that compared Yellowstone National Park grizzly bear and wolf interactions with those same animals in Sweden has produced a surprising finding: brown bear presence in both ecosystems reduces the wolf kill rate.

“It’s a baffling finding,” said Doug Smith, Yellowstone’s wolf biologist. “To be honest, for 20 years I’ve been saying bears increase wolf kill rates because bears steal so many carcasses.”

That data from two very different ecosystems pointed to the same conclusion helped convince Yellowstone bear biologist Kerry Gunther that the research was “not just a fluke.”

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