When wolves and lynxes meet

We all know that dogs and cats do not always seem to get along very well. Dogs are often very loyal to the people, while cats can better be left alone. In Wilderness it is not different. Wolves are highly social animals, often living and hunting together in a wolf pack. Lynxes on the other hand prefer a solitary life, and only meet their partners for mating. They are the wild relatives of our domesticated dogs and cats. But since the populations of wolves and lynxes are steadily growing, there are more wolves and lynxes living together in the same areas. How do wolves and lynxes behave towards each other in the wild? It is a question that many wildlife researchers try to find answers to.

Please also read: Exclusive interview with a wolf and Exclusive Interview with a lynx

Who is the boss?

Many experts tend to assume that a wolf outcompetes a lynx, when it comes to defending territory or fighting. However, a long and intensive study in Belarus shows that lynxes only got killed by other lynxes. Instead, it appears that male lynxes did kill wolves, especially young ones and even pregnant female wolves in Belarus. In fact, researchers even conclude that the lynx significantly lowers the the wolf reproduction rate in Belarus.

Yet, the researchers did not find proof of lynx attacking a complete wolf pack. That would cause too much risk for the lynx to get injured, leading almost certainly to its own death. In Belarus, there are specific times when the wolves spend more time alone. For example, when the female wolf pregnant or just gave birth. Her partner male wolf will be searching food to feed the new family, while the mothers stays in the den. During theses times, the female wolf is extra vulnerable.

Carcass competition

But wolves are not always the underdog, as different sightings confirm. In several cases, people have observed how wolves chased lynxes away from a freshly made kill. So, it depends on the specific situation, whether the wolf or lynx will take the highest position in the food chain. Camera traps did show that in the specific case in Belarus, the lynx mother and her kittens returned after the wolves left the remaining carcass of a freshly killed red deer.

Growing groups of wildlife

The wolf and lynx populations in Europe are steadily growing, and with that the wildlife populations in Europe are changing. The impact that these returning predators have, changes the balance in European ecosystems. In several areas, people protest against the return of this wildlife, as they fear for their livestock. Concerns about human-wildlife conflict rise, and many people recognise the importance and need to sufficiently protect their sheep, goats and cattle. A coexistence between wildlife and people is possible, as some exemplary countries have done for decades. Other countries, which have previously exterminated the wolf and lynx, must now face the challenge to adapt to new environmental circumstances, respecting nature as being a part of it.

Source articles here and here.

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