The mystery of an ancient wolf attack may be solved

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In 2009, a pack of wolves lives in Canada Cape Breton Heights National Park has killed a 19-year-old hiker in an apparently unprovoked attack. He. She It was the first coyote-related killing ever documented in Canada and the second only in North America, after the death of a young boy in California in 1981. More than a decade later, Scientists now believe they have discovered exactly what caused the tragedy. They argue that the park’s coyotes had begun hunting larger animals such as moose due to their limited resources, making them more likely to pursue humans. that they Rule out other possible causes, such as wolves becoming more familiar with humans or their food over time.

Singer-songwriter dies Taylor Mitchell in late October 2009 shocked many, including coyote experts. Despite public perception, wolves are not known to exist Aggressive towards humans. eIn urban areas shared by the two species, the animals often avoid human contact.

A team of scientists in Canada and the United States has been studying the possible circumstances behind Mitchell’s death. Their investigation involved capturing nearly two dozen coyotes in the area between 2011 and 2013, which allowed the team to provide them with devices to track their movements. They also collected samples from coyotes (including the animals implicated in Mitchell’s death) and fur samples from potential prey in the area, as well as hair samples from a local barbershop. By studying the contents of these samples of nitrogen and carbonthe team was able to estimate the wolves’ recent diet, including whether they ate food intended for humans.

Wolves usually hunt or scavenge small prey, although they are Carnivores that can eat anything if given the chance. But the team found that Cape Breton wolves mostly ate elk, with the large animal accounting for half to two-thirds of their diets on average, followed by smaller mammals and deer. The same pattern was true of the coyotes responsible for Mitchell’s death. And unlike coyotes elsewhere, there was little seasonal variation in their diets, which suggests that They primarily hunted elk throughout the year.

The authors argue that the conversion to large prey seen in these concentrations of coyotes likely occurred only out of sheer necessity, and it is this unique adaptation that prompted them to attack Mitchell.

“We describe these animals as expanding their niche to rely primarily on moose. We also take it a step further and say that not only were they scavenging, but they were actually killing moose when they could. It’s hard for them to do that, but since they didn’t have very little food, for this was their prey,” statement from the University. “And that leads to conflicts with people you wouldn’t normally see.”

Gert and his team also collected evidence that points apart from other popular theories of the attack. The wolves in the park had a wide range, but still tended to avoid them Areas that interfere with human activity. They also move around a lot at night during the times of the year when humans are most active during the day. And only a few coyotes have recently eaten human food (including one coyote implicated in attacks on humans)., making it less likely that these animals will spend a lot of time near us. Finally, hunting and trapping are not permitted in the park, which means that local wolves may not fear humans as much as they normally would elsewhere.

“It’s a large area where coyotes live and they never have a negative experience with a human — if they have any at all,” Gert said. “This also leads to the logical assumption we make, which is that it is not difficult for these animals to test to see whether or not humans are a potential prey item.”

All in all, the results, published Last month in the Journal of Applied Ecology, the study noted that what happened to Taylor Mitchell was a tragic but “extremely rare” event. say the authors. the is The conditions that led to their death are particularly unlikely to occur in places where there is plenty of food and natural prey for wolves, including urban areas shared with humans. At the same time, they write, people visiting the park or other areas with similar environmental conditions “should be made aware of the dangers posed by coyotes and encouraged to take precautions,” such as bringing a partner and an animal such as bear spray. Park managers in these areas may also need to monitor wolf behavior carefully and be prepared to take action earlier than usual, which could include culling aggressive coyotes.

Although he was there reports Of coyote attacks in the park in the years since, no further deaths appear to have occurred.

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