Foraging Behaviours and Diets of Wolves in the Queen Maud Gulf Bird Sanctuary, Nunavut, Canada
Keywords: wolves, Canis lupus, foraging behaviour, Queen Maud Gulf Bird Sanctuary, migratory birds, vulnerability of prey
AbstractPredation patterns often reflect the abundance and distribution of prey although factors such as vulnerability and ease of prey capture also affect these patterns. Wolves (Canis lupus) rely primarily on ungulates throughout most of their range even though other foods can be locally and seasonally important. We combined direct observation of wolves and scat analyses to examine the foraging behaviours and diets of wolves in the Queen Maud Gulf Bird Sanctuary, Nunavut, Canada. We were especially interested in how wolves used birds (primarily geese, Chen spp.) that were nesting in large numbers and dense colonies in the sanctuary. Caribou (Rangifer tarandus), which occurred in 65% of all scats, and bird prey, found in 29%, were the most common foods in scats, and behavioural observations confirmed this pattern. This study showed that caribou were the main prey of wolves in the Queen Maud Gulf Bird Sanctuary but that wolves also preyed on vulnerable and seasonally abundant foods, such as migratory birds, especially in late summer when ducks and geese were flightless during their annual remigial molt.