Heavily-hunted wolf populations have elevated stress, reproductive hormones, study reveals

Wolves from heavily hunted populations in northern Canada show elevated stress and reproductive hormones — physiological effects that could have evolutionary implications — according to a study published Wednesday in the scientific journal Functional Ecology.

Hunting can disrupt a wolf pack’s complex social structure, alter normal reproductive behaviour and introduce chronic stress that “may have evolutionary consequences,” the study found. Hunting can also decrease pack size, resulting in altered predation patterns, increased time spent defending kill sites from scavengers and may lead to increased conflict with humans and livestock, the study added.

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