MOOSE-PREDATOR RELATIONSHIPS: RESEARCH AND MANAGEMENT NEEDS
Since the 1984 Swedish Moose Symposium our knowledge of moose (Alces alces)-predator relationships has substantially improved. Wolves (Canis lupus), brown or grizzly bears (Ursus arctos), black bears (U. americanus), and recently, cougars (Puma concolor) have been identified as major predators of moose. During the past 2 decades, a number of studies have identified the role of predation as either limiting or regulating moose population growth. However, confusion over misuse-use to terminology has hindered out understanding of these relationships. Regulating factors are composed solely of density-dependent factors which keep populations in equilibrium or cause them to return to equilibrium. Whether a wolf functional response (i.e., per capita kill rate) is, in fact, related to moose density has come under scrutiny. There may be no biological justification for using a functional response in modeling exercises as wolf kill rates appear rather constant over a wide range of moose densities. Wolf numerical and functional responses are curvilinear relative to moose density and may be prey species specific. Knowledge of bear predation is inadequate to accurately model moose population trends. Whether predation regulates or limits moose population growth may be academic if reductions in predator numbers allow managers to increase moose populations and harvest yields. Managers currently have the biological tools to effectively manage moose-predator relationships.
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