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Indirect Effect of African Swine Fever on the Diet Composition of the Gray Wolf Canis lupus—A Case Study in Belarus. Klich D, Yanuta G, Sobczuk M, Balcerak M. Animals. 2021 Jun

Abstract

After the emergence of African swine fever (ASF), the wild boar population numbers fell drastically in Eastern Europe. This situation made it possible to verify the changes in the wolves’ diet that occurred. The material collection was carried out in two regions, Grodno and Vitebsk, in Belarus. In total, 19 species/groups of prey were observed in the gray wolf diet, but the most important were wild boar, elk, red deer, roe deer and beaver. The decrease in the number of wild boar caused changes in the diet of wolves but only in Vitebsk region, where wolves’ diet before the ASF epidemic outbreak consisted mainly of elk and wild boar. After the decrease of wild boar numbers, wolves still mainly hunted elk, but other types of prey included roe deer, red deer and beaver. We found a negative correlation between wild boar and both deer species (roe deer and red deer) in the wolves’ diet. Moreover, the more the wolves consumed elk, the less they consumed beaver. In our opinion, only intensive hunting of wolves by humans can explain the resulting dietary fluctuations between elk and beaver, as well as the fact that wolves did not turn to other food sources.

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