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Wolf Management in the 21st Century:
From Public Input to Sterilization

by

L. David Mech1
Steven H. Fritts2
Michael E. Nelson3


Abstract: Human-population increase and land development portend increasing conflict with large predators. Concurrently, changes and diversification of human attitudes are bringing increased disagreement about wildlife management. Animal-rights advocacy resulting from urbanization of human populations conflicts with traditional wildlife management. These forces focus more on wolves than on other wildlife because of strong public and media interest in wolves. Thus wolf management in the future will come under even greater public scrutiny, involve more public input, and may have greater restrictions imposed on it. This will lead to increased complexity in wolf management including more zoning, more experimentation with lethal and non-lethal capture techniques and alternate methods of alleviating damage to pets, livestock, and large ungulate herds, and greater public and private subsidy of wolf damage. One form of non-lethal control of wolf populations that may hold some promise is direct sterilization of males to reduce the biotic potential of the wolf population. Experimental vasectomy of five wild male wolves from four packs in Minnesota indicates that sterile males will continue to hold mates and territories, which would be necessary if sterilization is to be a viable technique for assisting with population control. If sterile males held territories but failed to produce pups, such territories might contain only about a third the number of wolves as fertile pack territories. Because wolves are long-lived in unexploited populations and their territories are large, direct sterilization of relatively few animals each year might significantly reduce populations.

Key words: control, management, sterilization, territoriality, vasectomy, wolves


This resource is based on the following source (Northern Prairie Publication LDM0153):
Mech, L. David, Steven H. Fritts, and Michael E. Nelson.  1996.  Wolf 
     management in the 21st century: from public input to sterilization.  
     Journal of Wildlife Research 1(2):195-198. 

This resource should be cited as:

Mech, L. David, Steven H. Fritts, and Michael E. Nelson.  1996.  Wolf 
     management in the 21st century: from public input to sterilization.  
     Journal of Wildlife Research 1(2):195-198.  Jamestown, ND: 
     Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.  
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/mammals/wolfman/index.htm 
     (Version 02MAR2000).

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1 U.S. Nat. Biol. Survey, Patuxent Environmental Science Center, North Central Forest Exp. Station, 1992 Folwell Ave. St. Paul, MN 55108, USA.
2 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 100 North Park Ave. Suite 320, Helena, MT 59601, USA.
3U.S. National Biological Survey, Patuxent Environmental Science Center, USA.
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