New Research Says Hungry Moose Won't Shy Away from Wolves

Mar 26, 2019

Credit NPS Photo/Marci Johnson

Moose in Western Wyoming are willing to take the risk and go near wolves during winter if it means they can avoid going hungry and dying. That's according to new research from the University of Wyoming published in the scientific journal Ecology.

"We've known for some time that hungry animals will tolerate the presence of predators in order to avoid starvation," Brendan Oates, lead author of the paper, said.

This is known as the starvation-predation hypothesis. The study tracked the movements of GPS-collared moose and wolves in Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest for over five years.

Oates said the research shows just how complicated the relationship between wolves and big-game species is, as well as the difficulty in understanding how the fear of wolves impacts ecosystems.

"Researchers should take a close look at all the potential factors that might influence foraging behavior of these animals relative to when and where they encounter wolves on their winter range," he said.

Other research has shown that elk will at times move away from their preferred habitat to avoid wolves during the winter.