Scientist at work: Identifying individual gray wolves by their howls

Love them or hate them, wolves are vital members of natural ecosystems and the health of a wolf population can be an important factor in maintaining balance among species. Wolf populations are growing in North America – the Great Lakes region in particular now supports over 3,700 individuals. Keeping track of wolf pack movements is important for reducing human-wolf conflicts which can arise when packs move too close to ranches.The traditional way to track wolves involves setting traps, sedating and then radio-collaring individual animals. While effective, this approach is time intensive and expensive, and entails risks for the animals.I was fortunate to participate in this entire process firsthand as an undergraduate student. During the summer trapping seasons, I became familiar with each of the wolves in the central forest region of Wisconsin. This experience led to several conversations with the wildlife biologists in the area about whether wolf howls could be used to help identifying non-radio-collared pack members.

Source: Scientist at work: Identifying individual gray wolves by their howls

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