Anthropogenic food resources sustain wolves in conflict scenarios of Western Iran

Abstract

The feeding ecology of gray wolves has been investigated extensively worldwide. Despite previous studies on food habits of wolves in Asia and Iran, none has focused on the diet of the species in a scenario of depleted of wild prey and with recent records of attacks on humans. Here, we combined telemetry methods and scat analysis to study the diet of wolves in areas of Hamadan province, Iran, where medium to large wild prey is almost absent. Between October 2015 and March 2017, we studied the feeding behavior (by identifying feeding sites through clusters of GPS locations) of three wolves fitted with GPS collars, belonging to different wolf packs. We also collected and analyzed 110 wolf scats during the same period within the same areas. Overall, we investigated 850 clusters of GPS locations in the field, and identified 312 feeding sites. Most feeding clusters were linked to dumpsites and poultry farms around villages. We found 142 and 170 events of predatory (kill sites) and scavenging behavior, respectively. Prey composition based on kill sites was comprised of 74.6% livestock, 19.7% lagomorphs, 3.5% dogs, 1.4% red fox, and 0.7% golden jackal. Similarly, prey composition based on scavenging clusters was comprised of 79.9% livestock, 10.6% red fox, and 9.4% golden jackal. Scat analysis, however, indicated that livestock (34.3%), garbage (23.7%), poultry (16.0%), and European hare (15.4%) were the most frequent food items. We discuss the role of anthropogenic food sources in a context where agonistic wolf-human encounters occur recurrently, and suggest management guidelines regarding illegal dumping of animal carcasses and garbage dumpsites, in order to minimize wolf-human negative interactions.
via Anthropogenic food resources sustain wolves in conflict scenarios of Western Iran

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