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Wolves recolonizing southern Sweden meet multiple prey species

Humans extirpated the wolf from many regions of Europe. Today, the wolf is returning to many of these areas, and with it, people’s opposition due to its predatory habits on, among others, ungulate game species. Based on existing data on wolf prey selection, kill rates and territory size, we extrapolated the results from central Sweden and Poland to southern Sweden, where wolf recolonization has not yet occurred and conservation conflicts with hunters are expected. Thus, we calculated the proportion of moose, roe deer, red deer, fallow deer and wild boar that would be killed by wolves in the municipalities of southern Sweden if wolf recolonization occurs. We found that the current system of five ungulate species in southern Sweden could potentially support a wolf density two to four times higher than in the current wolf distribution in central Sweden, which are mainly inhabited by roe deer and moose. With this type of research, we can anticipate and work to ameliorate the social unrest and expected conservation conflicts that may arise once wolves or other large carnivore species recolonize areas of Europe that are returning to the wild.

The publication is accessible here: https://www.mdpi.com/2079-7737/11/2/317

Picture Skarphedinn Thorisson

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