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Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) Occurrences in the Dakotas


All mortalities of suspected gray wolves in the Dakotas were investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service). Skulls were sent to the Service's Office of Endangered Species in Washington, D.C. where they were analyzed for pure wolf ancestry, evidence of captivity, age and probable region of origin (Nowak, in press; R. M. Nowak, pers. comm.). Body weight was confirmed for only one specimen.

Wolf distribution and survival in adjacent Minnesota are related to road and human density (Mech et al., 1988). Therefore, we looked for any obvious relationship that these factors might have to wolf mortalities in the Dakotas. Road densities were calculated by using only improved roads that were open to 2-wheel-drive vehicles year round (Fuller et al., 1992; Mech et al., 1988; Thiel, 1985). Human densities were derived from 1986 estimates (U.S. Bureau of Census, 1988). Land-use data came from the U.S. Bureau of Census (1988), except for the cropland acreage for McIntosh County (U.S. Bureau of Census, 1989) and the woodland data. Woodland acreage estimates were calculated from U.S. Geological Survey 1:250,000 topographic maps. Woodland estimates do not include shelterbelts, shrubland and other small woody tracts.

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