A UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences professor authored a study that is the first to examine carnivore killing and scavenging activities in relation to each other in landscapes across the globe.
Laura Prugh, wildlife ecologist and associate professor at SEFS, told UW News that patterns that emerged from the study could be used to make important management decisions about large carnivores worldwide.
“I hope this paper will spur researchers to think more holistically about these killing and scavenging interactions, because currently we’re not really getting a full understanding of how carnivore communities function by examining them separately,” Prugh told UW News.
“Without top predators such as wolves and grizzly bears, smaller meat-eating animals like coyotes and foxes or grazers such as deer and elk can balloon in population, unchecked. This can initiate more deer-vehicle collisions, scavenging by urban coyotes and other unnatural human-animal interactions.
“University of Washington researchers have discovered that large predators play a key yet unexpected role in keeping smaller predators and deer in check. Their “fatal attraction” theory finds that smaller predators are drawn to the kill sites of large predators by the promise of leftover scraps, but the scavengers may be killed themselves if their larger kin return for seconds.”