We studied wolf (Canis lupus) diet for three different landscapes in the north-western Iberian Peninsula, differing in land uses and availability of food for wolves. We examined 2740 scats, collected over a period of 4 years, in order to describe wolf diet, its geographic variation, and trophic preferences. The most consumed species were wild pony, roe deer and cattle. We observed differences in wolf diet among the three study sites, related to the availability and accessibility of food resources in each habitat. For the two study sites in northern and central Galicia, wolves showed similar diet, with high occurrence of wild pony (37 vs. 34%) and cattle (20 vs. 23%), but differing in the consumption of wild ungulates (16 vs. 8%) and carrion (7 vs. 14%). Wolf diet in eastern Galicia’s mountain ranges was entirely different, due to the higher consumption of wild ungulates (70%). Wolves showed clear prey selection patterns. Between wild ponies and livestock, wolves positively selected ponies. Among wild ungulates, wolves positively selected roe deer. Wild pony and roe deer are key species for wolf feeding in Galicia. In the Galician wild pony range, ponies are the main food for wolves. Given that the availability of wild ponies may contribute to the decrease in wolf predation on cattle, it is essential to develop innovative administrative decisions in such areas to preserve this traditional equid population. In the same way, the population of roe deer should be strengthened in the livestock areas outside the range of wild pony.
Acta Theriologica – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 5, 2018
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