Making Scents of Predators

Moose at Yellowstone National Park are learning to fear predators once again

06-01-2001 // NWF Staff

Elephants may never forget, but moose apparently do--at least when it comes to long-absent predators. When exposed to recordings of wolf howls or coyote calls, or the scent of grizzly bears, female moose near Yellowstone National Park were six times less likely to recognize these enemy cues than moose living in predator-rich Alaska. "It appears that moose may not recognize bears and wolves, even though they have only been absent from the study area for 10 to 15 generations [40 to 65 years]," says Joel Berger, a Wildlife Conservation Society researcher who recently published these findings.

But the antlered animals learn fast, Berger says: "Wyoming moose that have lost even one of their offspring to predators may become as savvy as their Alaskan cousins within a single generation, which indicates that mechanisms for predator avoidance are already in place."

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