US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Journal of Wildlife Management, Vol. 65, No. 4 (Oct., 2001), pp. 998-1003.


We studied wolf (Canis lupus) predation on elk (Cervus elaphus) in Yellowstone National Park from 17 March to 15 April 1997 (severe winter conditions) and from 2 to 31 March 1998 (mild winter conditions) 2-3 years after wolves were reintroduced to the park. Elk composed 91% of 117 kills. Data comparisons for 1997 versus 1998 were: hunting success rate, 26% versus 15%; kill rate, 17.1 kg/wolf/day versus 6.1; percent of kill consumed in first day, 7 versus 86; percent femur marrow fat of adult kills, 27 versus 70; calf:adult ratios of kills, 2:33 versus 17:23; sex ratio of kills, 14M:19F versus 17M:6F; mean age of elk killed, males 6.1 years, females 15.2 versus males, 4.8, females 13.0. Winter severity influenced the wolf-elk relationship more than the naivete of the elk herd to predation by wolves.