Cougars Are Killing Wolves in Washington State


Mountain lions and grey wolves are each thought-about apex predators in Washington State, however a rising physique of proof exhibits that when the 2 species face off in a battle, the cougar normally comes out on high. Wildlife officers with the Washington Department of Wildlife not too long ago got here throughout a wolf that had been killed by a cougar, and so they say it’s no less than the fourth time this has occurred since 2013.

“People often talk about wolves being at the top of the food chain when it comes to carnivores, or that they are ‘apex’ predators,” WDFW writes in an article printed Wednesday. “Although that is accurate in some cases, in Washington, we are seeing a phenomenon that has been relatively uncommon in other states.”

This summer time, WDFW officers discovered proof {that a} mountain lion had killed a wolf within the state. As a part of their efforts to trace the Dominion wolf pack, biologists had fitted one of many wolves within the pack with a GPS collar. When that collar despatched a mortality sign, which occurs at any time when the collared animal stops shifting for an prolonged time frame, WDFW wolf biologist Trent Roussin headed out to analyze. He finally discovered the collar nonetheless hooked up to the lifeless wolf.

“From all the signs at the site, it appears the wolf was attacked while traveling down an old overgrown logging road, with the fight ending about 100 yards downhill,” Roussin mentioned.

Roussin then carried out a necropsy on the lifeless wolf and observed distinct holes within the wolf’s cranium, indicating that “it was pierced by strong feline teeth.”

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Washington wildlife officers say they’ve discovered proof of cougars killing wolves within the state. Geoffkuchera / Adobe Stock

More Evidence of Cougars Killing Wolves in Washington

WDFW has documented no less than three different cases of collared wolves being killed by cougars since 2013. This makes the Evergreen State an outlier in comparison with different Western states which can be residence to each species.

“That’s more than has been documented in the entire Northern Rocky Mountains in twice as much time, despite that being a much larger area with many more wolves than Washington,” the company writes. “And it is likely there are more cases that we don’t know about.”

The company discovered one other lion-killed wolf this September, when U.S Forest Service workers knowledgeable WDFW of a moose kill in Stevens County, which is residence to the Smackout wolf pack. Roussin investigated that kill web site as effectively, and the very first thing he discovered was a full-grown wolf carcass subsequent to an already-consumed cow carcass. He noticed that the grownup feminine wolf had a damaged leg, and he discovered a second, smaller carcass close by that turned out to be a wolf pup.

“Roussin believes that the adult female wolf was killed by the moose as the pack tried to take down their kill,” WDFW explains. “Even after that wolf was killed, the rest of the pack stayed and was feeding on the moose when a cougar came in and may have killed the wolf pup while attempting to claim the moose carcass.”

Why Cougars Have the “Upper Paw”

The ranges of grey wolves and cougars overlap all through a lot of North America, and so they usually goal the identical prey (primarily moose, elk, and deer). This creates a sure stage of competitors, and it’s extra seemingly that cougars “are not so much hunting wolves as competing with them,” WDFW explains.

This aggressive dynamic helps clarify the September incident, which concerned a mountain lion combating with wolves over a kill. The case of the collared wolf that was killed on a logging highway this summer time is much less cut-and-dry, nevertheless, and it’s attainable that the cougar truly ambushed the wolf, in line with the company.

Read Next: 143 Sheep Die Trying to Escape Two Wolves in Idaho

Unlike wolves, which journey and hunt in packs, cougars are solitary predators. This offers the large cats a definite benefit over the canines in terms of one-on-one fight. Cougars even have a leg up on the defensive facet due to their climbing talents. Even if a wolf pack tried to assault a lone mountain lion, the cat may simply get away by climbing a tree and staying effectively out of attain of the wolves.

“Most of the time you don’t think of cats being able to out-fight dogs,” WDFW explains. “[But] when a cougar successfully ambushes a wolf traveling alone, the fight can be very short, with the cat finishing it with a quick bite to the head.”


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