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Prey not hard-wired to fear predators

ection. The states of Wyoming and Idaho have already proposed plans that would allow for as much as 85 percent of these once-protected wolves to be killed. So even as the goal of re-instilling fear of predators in prey species has been successful, the question remains whether enough wolves will be left to maintain the larger goals of natural function and balance, according to Dr. Berger.

Notes on the Study

The study compared the behaviors of four species of prey animals in three different prey situations:

  • Locations were native predators still exist. (Eastern Siberia, Boreal Canada and Alaska)

  • Locations where the top predators no longer exist. (the polar islands of Greenland and Svalbard, Norway)

  • Locations where native predators have been re-established after once being extinguished. (Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks )

To test reactions of animals living without their traditional predators, Berger played recordings of wolves and tigers and chronicled their reactions. As expected, in the absence of predators, the elk, moose, bison and caribou did not show the kind of vigilance, clustering behavior and flight observed in the same species living with wolves, bears or tigers. For example, elk in the mountains of Siberia—who subsist alongside tigers, wolves and bears-- responded five times faster to the recordings than did elk in Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado) where major predators have been absent for some 90 years.
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Source:Wildlife Conservation Society


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