Promoting wolf conservation since 1999

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"When it comes to wolves, it's not about numbers. It's about family." ~ Gordon Haber

Molly Post

Name:          Molly Post
Insitution:   Fox Lane High School
Date:            2007
Title:            Analysis of Behavior and Cortisol Levels Of a Captive Wolf in Solitaire Versus Captive Wolves in a Pack

Or captive wolves were observed over four seasons to determine whether a wolf in solitaire was more stressed compared to wolves in a pack. The four wolves included one male in solitaire and two males and a female in a pack. The wolves were separated approximately one year prior to the study, when the wolf (now in solitaire) began to cause conflicts with the other pack members. With the separation of the wolf from his former pack, it was important to investigate the stress levels of the wolves, and compare how the stress levels vary from the wolf in solitaire to the wolves in the pack. By identifying stressful environments and comparing a wolf in solitaire to wolves in a pack, the cortical levels along with behavioral evidence indicated which environment was more stressful for these undomesticated animals living in captivity. As wolves are reintroduced into the wild, it will be helpful for scientists to understand the stress levels and behaviors of wolves in solitaire in comparison to the wolves in packs.

The results provided little evidence that the wolf in solitaire had higher cortisol levels and more stressful behavior than the wolves in a pack. For the wolf in solitaire, his cortisol levels were not significantly higher than the wolves in the pack, and his behaviors were observed to be similar to those of the pack members. All four wolves in this study offered analysis of their lifestyle in a somewhat natural, although captive, physical environment, and two unique groupings of wolves. The cortisol levels and behavioral analysis have presented a non-invasive study that resulted in an interesting finding that could be used to keep stress levels down for wolves and other captive wildlife species as well.

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