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Wednesday, January 27 • 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Evaluating Alternative Wolf Monitoring Protocols In Wisconsin

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AUTHORS: Shawn Crimmins, University of Wisconsin; Timothy Van Deelen, University of Wisconsin; Liza Walleser, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; David MacFarland, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Nathan Roberts, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: With the removal of federal protections for gray wolves Canis lupus in the Great Lakes region, state wildlife management agencies will be tasked with continued monitoring of these populations without the financial resources that come with federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. Current approaches are labor intensive, cost-prohibitive, and lack a robust statistical framework for evaluating uncertainty in population estimates. We are evaluating a suite of alternative monitoring protocols for gray wolves in Wisconsin with the hope of providing a cost-effective, but statistically and scientifically defensible, monitoring framework. Our approach combines retrospective analyses of historical monitoring data along with empirical evaluations of newly collected field data and ultimately the integration of the two. For our retrospective analyses we are 1) using a 20-year dataset of snow-track surveys conducted throughout wolf range in a hierarchical occupancy modeling framework, 2) using historical telemetry and demographic data to identify density-dependent patterns in space-use and reproductive dynamics, and 3) using age-at-harvest data to develop statistical population reconstructions. Our newly initiated field evaluations include 1) non-invasive genetic sampling for mark-recapture analyses, 2) remote camera monitoring for spatial capture-recapture analyses, 3) intensive monitoring of den sites to determine pack-level recruitment, and 4) snow-track surveys combined with high-resolution GPS telemetry data for site-structured abundance models. Once the most efficient and cost-effective methods have been identified we will proceed to use these approaches in an integrated population modeling framework. Our work could serve as a guide for other jurisdictions that require effective wolf monitoring programs, perhaps serving as the basis for a standardized protocol, and will also help guide monitoring programs for other carnivore species of management interest.

Wednesday January 27, 2016 1:40pm - 2:00pm EST
Vandenberg A