Wild hunters are relying more on our food and pets


Some of the answers America’s big predators – wolves, mountain lions, bumblebees, and the like – are now getting about half the food from the people. It abstains from eating foods found in nature and may put them into conflict with each other, or may lead to more human-carnivorous encounters on ongoing trails or suburban backyards.

A new study by researchers from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and the University of New Mexico used hair, fur, and bone samples from the outskirts of Albany, New York to identify the diet of seven carnivorous species in the upper Midwest. Minnesota Forestland. Scientists used chemical tracers to show that animals were directly relying on human food sources, such as raiding farms or trash cans, or by indirectly preying on small animals, such as rats, rabbits , Or sometimes pets.

“These species are eating human food,” says Philippe Mexico, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of New Mexico and lead author of the study, which was published on Monday Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. “In some cases, more than half of their diets are coming from humans. It can be garbage, or corn residues, or house cats and pets. “That’s bad news for carnivores, because people don’t want hunters to eat their pets — and generally, people don’t like carnivores in their backyards.”

The complete list of these carnivores studied in the report includes fox, coyote, fisher and martyrs. And not only are they getting in touch with people more often (you can probably already see this six-minute viral video of a Utah jogger being chased by a mountain lion that he is very close to his cubs), But they are also fighting for each other food, says Manlik. “They will also use their weapons against each other,” Manlik says. “When their diet overlaps, they are likely to kill each other. Consumption of food resources presents many challenges for non-vegetarians in the future. ”

Researchers found that foxes were most likely from human food sources, they could get half their food by eating pets or feeding in areas disturbed by agriculture, while wolves and bobcuts were least likely, This was reducing 5 percent of their diet from these sources.

How did they know this? The team used chemical isotopes of carbon taken from animal fur and bone samples to differentiate between human-grown and naturally found foods. “Human foods look like corn, because we give corn to everything,” Manlik says. Corn syrup can be found in many processed foods, while corn grains are fed beef, chicken, and pork. But corn looks very different than natural foods when analyzed in the lab.

“Corn is a carbon-4 [isotope] The plant, while most plants are shrubs and berries that are native, are a carbon-3 [isotope] Plant, “she continues.” They look different. If you’re eating mice, you can see the same. ”

His team’s study of North American carnivorous diets follows two other large studies of the effects of humans on animals. A 2018 study published in the journal Science Tracked 57 mammal species worldwide and found that they are less rotating, covering a smaller range when they either forage or hunt in areas with human development. He told the authors that this could be because their habitats are becoming more fragmented or because people have more easily grabbed and known food. “An alternative explanation is that at least some animals limit their movements because they do not need to move more and more to take advantage of human food sources,” William Fagan, a writer on a paper Science The paper and professor of biology at the University of Maryland, wrote in an email to WIRED. This possible interpretation would agree with the authors’ discussion PNAS Paper. “

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