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UBCO research says pipelines, logging roads are hunting highways for wolves

UBCO research shows that wolf highways are bad for caribou
Logging and mining creates ‘highways’ that wolves use to hunt caribou (Craig DeMars)

Logging roads, pipelines, and clearings that make trails through the forests make it too easy for wolves to hunt caribou, according to a UBC Okanagan student.

Ph.D. candidate Melanie Dickie has published a new paper studying the impact humans have on predator and prey relationships.

“We have accidentally made it really easy for wolves to move around,” says Dickie.

Wolf in a forest clearing (Caribou Monitoring Unit)

She studied how wolves use clearings created by humans to travel and hunt animals like caribou.

Her research analyzed wolf habitats and how far the canines travel on a regular basis.

Three caribou (Caribou Monitoring Unit)

“When food is abundant and easy to find wolves travel less and stay close to home, allowing more wolves to fit in the area,” says Dickie. Caribou populations dwindle when wolves capitalize on the human-made clearings, she says.

Logging and oil and gas industries have directly impacted animal populations by creating “highways” for predators, like wolves, to use. The process of mining and logging creates clearings and trails through the forest which make it easy for wolves to catch caribou.

Three caribou (Caribou Monitoring Unit)

Wolf populations are thriving in many areas of B.C. but unfortunately, we really have to worry about caribou, says Dickie. She says many caribou herds have now disappeared from the Southern Okanagan region and surrounding area, due in part to how humans have changed the landscape and the vigorous wolves in the area.

READ MORE: Last caribou from lower 48 U.S. states released back into the wild

To conserve caribou populations Dickie says that it is necessary to restore disturbed habitats.

She explains that one of the areas that requires urgent restoration is the forest around Revelstoke, in the Columbia North Region.

Wolf on a snowmobile track (Caribou Monitoring Unit)

Restoration involves replanting native plant species and ensuring that there are no large pathways or leftover logging or mining roads, particularly ones that aren’t being used anymore, that wolves could easily travel and use as a “highway” to hunt caribou.

For more information, follow @MelanieDickie on twitter or read her paper, published in the Ecological Society of America.

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Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

I'm a reporter in the beginning stages of my career. I joined the team at Capital News in November 2021...
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