Wolves: good for antelopes (for coyotes, not so much)

A new study in the journal Ecology, continues to confirm the remarkable effect that wolves are having on the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.  Scientists have long known that wolves kill or chase off coyotes whenever they encounter them, and the effect on coyotes in the regions has been substantial.  According to the study, coyote populations have declines as much as 40% in some places.

The neat thing is what that has done to other animals in the region.  One effect is that those animals that coyotes prey on are under less pressure.  That not only means more rodents (which, in turn, is great for birds of prey such as hawks and owls) but it is also apparently good for pronghorn antelopes.  The study found that pronghorn fawns were three times more likely to survive in areas dominated by wolves than in areas with heavier coyote populations.  That's not only good for pronghorn antelopes, it's also good for pronghorn hunters.  Coyotes are also responsible for a significant small, but measurable, level of sheep depredations. 

I wonder if we'll discovery that wolves are good for sheep too?

Coyote

About the Authors

Andrew Wetzler

Deputy Chief Program Officer

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