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Thesis Defence: Investigating spatial and temporal factors driving human-wolf interactions in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Canada
September 7, 2023 at 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Jenna Scherger, supervised by Dr. Adam Ford, will defend their thesis titled “Investigating spatial and temporal factors driving human-wolf interactions in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Canada” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Biology.
An abstract for Jenna Scherger’s thesis is included below.
Defences are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public. Registration is not required for in person defences.
Human-carnivore conflict affects human safety, livelihoods, animal welfare, carnivore population stability, and ecological integrity. Understanding factors associated with conflicts may help to identify management actions that better support the safety of people and wildlife. Over the past few decades, interactions between people and wolves (Canis lupus) in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Canada have resulted in attacks on people, pets, and the death of wolves. To understand the spatial patterns of conflict, we used data from 124 camera traps (2018-2022) to quantify temporal wolf activity in relation to human activity, infrastructure, and prey availability. We further tested the effect of human activity on wolf space use and quantified wolf distribution and activity during COVID-19 lockdowns. We then used wolf activity models as predictor variables to understand the timing and distribution of 277 reported human-wolf interactions that occurred between 2017-2021. Our analyses suggested that wolf activity was consistently greater in proximity to prey habitat and recreational infrastructure. There was no compelling evidence to suggest the absence of park visitors during the COVID-19 lockdown altered wolf distribution or activity. Unsurprisingly, human-wolf interactions occurred where humans and wolves spatially overlap, especially in areas where wolves lacked hiding cover. Key recommendations to promote human-wolf coexistence include reducing attractants, enforcing dogs on leash, and focusing education outreach in areas where human activity overlaps with wolf habitat.