Due primarily to wolf (Canis lupus) predation on livestock (depredation), some livestock producers and other interest groups oppose wolf conservation, which is an important objective for large sectors of the public. Predicting depredation occurrence is difficult, yet necessary to prevent it. Better prediction of wolf depredation also would facilitate application of sound depredation management actions. In this paper we analyze temporal trends in wolf depredation occurrence and wolf control, which is employed as a depredation management action. We gathered data from wolf depredation investigations for Alberta, Canada, from 1982–1996 and for Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, USA, from 1987–2003. We showed that wolf attacks occurred with a seasonal pattern, reflecting the seasonality of livestock calving, grazing practices, and seasonal variation in energetic requirements of wolf packs. Seasonal wolf attacks were auto-correlated with lags of one year, indicating annual reoccurrence. Cross-correlation analyses indicated that limited wolf control was rapidly employed as a short-term response to depredation, and was not designed to decrease wolf depredation at a regional scale or in the long-term. We therefore discovered a reoccurring seasonal-annual pattern for wolf depredation and wolf control in western North America. Ranchers and managers could use our data for focusing investment of resources to prevent wolf depredation increases during high-depredation seasons.
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