A Spanish researcher has analysed the preferences of wolves from the north east of the Iberian Peninsula to demonstrate that, in reality, their favourite prey are roe deer, deer and wild boar, ahead of domestic ruminants (sheep, goats, cows and horses).
Wolves (Canis lupus) have been pursued by humans for centuries due to their supposed "addiction" to livestock. However, the study by Isabel Barja, sole author and researcher at the Universidad Autnoma de Madrid [Autonomous University of Madrid], demonstrates that in the Macizo Central Orensano [mountain range in the Ourense region] (Galicia) wolves prefer wild hoofed animals to livestock in spite of the latter being available in the study area.
The researcher, who identified the food type of wolves through their faeces, emphasises to SINC that "in 87.1% of cases the carcasses of wild hoofed animals appeared, while domestic animals were only found in 11.3%, and, to a lesser extent, the remains of carnivorous animals, such as badgers, dogs, cats and rabbits were found".
The study, which has recently been published in Wildlife Biology, reflects how roe deer are the main prey, consumed during all seasons of the year and particularly during the summer (52%) and spring (26.2%). Analysis of 593 wolf excrement samples, collected between May 1998 and October 2002, revealed that 62.8% of prey was roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), 12.6% deer (Cervus elaphus) and 10% wild boar (Sus scrofa). The consumption of domestic sheep and goats only represented 7.7% and 2.9%, respectively.
The fact that livestock remains are present in excrement samples of wolves is justified by their scavenging activity in the studied area. "Furthermore, while the study was being conducted, no attacks on livestock herds were reported", the biologist states.
One of the most important aspects to emerge from the analysis of the diet of wolves is that consumpti
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology