Assessment of corridors for movement of Gray wolf (Canis lupus) across rural land between two protected parks in southwestern Manitoba, Canada

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Aidnell, Linda
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Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP) occupies 2,974 km2 of mixed wood boreal forest in southwestem Manitoba that is almost completely surrounded by agriculture. There is concern that wide-ranging, large carnivore populations in the park are genetically isolated and consequently nonviable over the long term. This study was carried out to identify areas with potential to support wolf dispersal from RMNP to the nearby Duck Mountain Provincial Park and Forest Reserve (DMPP&F) across the human disturbed land outside the park boundaries. Wolf telemetry data from RMNP provided information about preferred habitats within a protected and relatively undisturbed area. Presence of wolves between the parks was gathered from personal interviews with local landowners as well as wolf tracks. It was found that wolves avoid human disturbed areas within RMNP and select undisturbed areas outside the park boundaries. Furthermore, negative attitudes towards wolves held by local residents and its associated mortality threat comprise the major barrier to wolf-movement between the parks. A regionally connected wolf population depends on protection of remaining undeveloped land between the parks and acceptance by resident humans. Long term viability of the regional wolf population further relies on protection of wolves in the whole area and joint management amongst stakeholders at all levels.