Findings on the interference between wolves and lynxes 

Reading literature and talking with wolf and lynx researchers, it becomes evident that interference between the two species is actually poorly studied. Some mammalogists tend to assume that wolves suppress the lynx population. Some even suggest details of the aggressive behaviour of wolves towards lynxes: strong wolf packs attack lynx family groups and kill kits during lynx mating season when the kits stay alone or disperse. Seemingly, such stories are only speculative beliefs and ideas.

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The aggressive encounter between adult wolf and lynx.

During vast amounts of time in the wild and a lot of field studies on wolves and lynxes in Belarus only lynxes killed by lynxes (males killed by other males and kits killed by males) were found. We never found any lynx (kits or adult) killed by wolves.

In contrast, we found several wolf pups of various age and pregnant wolves killed by lynx:

  • 8 wolf pups of  2-11 months old and 2 heavily pregnant female wolves that were killed by lynxes (1997-2015, Naliboki Forest and Paazierre Forest);
  • one more pregnant female wolf was killed by either lynx or wolf (more likely to say that lynx,  Naliboki Forest, May 2017);
  • at least, two wolf litters up two one month old were killed by lynxes  (Naliboki Forest, April-May, 2016 and 2017),
  • two more litters –  very plausible;
  • one wolf  litter of 2-3 months old  and their small mother were very plausibly killed by lynx  (Naliboki Forest, June-July 2016);
  • adult male wolf plausibly died being wounded after a fight with a male lynx (Naliboki Forest, April 2017).

My point of view is clear:  at least, in Belarus, lynxes, first of all, adult males suppress wolf reproduction, by frequently killing of pups and pregnant females. This, in turn, affects the wolf population dynamic, sometimes, quite heavily. Nowadays,  I and my collaborators from Wild Naliboki have enough proofs to confirm that.

Below you will find some photo-material on the interference between wolves and lynxes in Nalibiki Forest in Belarus suggesting the leading role of lynxes in the interspecific interference.

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Wolf parents at burrow-den with pups inside and the visit of male lynx into the den. Afterwards, the wolf couple has lost the pups. There is snow on the photos with lynx, as it was snowing in the morning of that day in May.

 

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Encounter and fight between an adult male lynx and an adult male wolf. The fight took place at an important marking point and grooming place of the male lynx on an abandoned forest road. The lynx won and plausibly the wolf died afterwards from his wounds.

 

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Lynx visits to the active wolf burrow-den.

 

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An example of wolf response to lynx odour. A pack of four wolves approaching a dead tree, where female and male lynxes had marked previously by urinating. Two of the pack members cautiously inspected the tree with their ears flat, a clear sign of fear and/or subordination.

 

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Wolf pup about 4 months old killed by lynx.
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Wolf pup about 5 months old killed by lynx.