U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


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Gese, E.M., P.A. Terletzky, J.D. Erb, K.C. Fuller, J.P. Grabarkewitz, J.P. Hart, C. Humpal, B.A. Sampson, and J.K. Young. 2019. Injury scores and spatial responses of wolves following capture: cable restraints versus foothold traps. Wildlife Society Bulletin 43(1):42-52. doi: 10.1002/wsb.954


U.S. Government work


Wolves (Canis lupus) have been captured with foothold traps for several decades to equip them with radiocollars for population monitoring. However, trapping in most areas is limited to spring, summer, and autumn as cold winter temperatures can lead to frozen appendages in trapped animals. In addition, conflicts arise when domestic dogs encounter these traps in nonwinter seasons. An alternative capture method is the use of cable restraint devices (modified neck snares) in the winter. We evaluated injury scores, movement patterns, and space use of wolves captured in cable restraint devices and foothold traps in north central Minnesota, USA, during 2012–2016. Injury scores did not differ between capture techniques; however, movement patterns and space use were different. We found that the movement away from the capture site appeared to plateau by approximately 8–10 days for wolves captured by either foothold traps or cable restraints, but wolves captured in traps travelled farther away. Daily movement rates reached an asymptote approximately 14 days earlier for wolves captured with cable restraints as compared with wolves caught with foothold traps. We found the space use among wolves caught with cable restraint devices plateaued in a shorter time frame than wolves caught with foothold traps whether using days since capture (38 days earlier) or number of locations (149 locations earlier). When we controlled for seasonal effects and the presence of a capture using locational data collected 6 months later, there was no difference in space use. We concluded that wolves captured in cable restraints recovered more quickly from the capture and resumed space use and activity patterns more rapidly than wolves captured with foothold traps.

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