Polar Biology

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 639–647 | Cite as

Moose (Alces alces) hunters subsidize the scavenger community in Alaska

  • Diana J. R. Lafferty
  • Zachary G. Loman
  • Kevin S. White
  • Anita T. Morzillo
  • Jerrold L. Belant
Original Paper


In many temperate ecosystems animal carcasses resultant from wildlife harvest can provide a high-quality food source for myriad facultative scavengers. We investigated scavenger use of human-provisioned ungulate carrion from a fall moose (Alces alces) hunt during 2010 and 2011 on the Gustavus Forelands, Alaska, USA. Using data from remote cameras, we (1) identified the scavenger species that used these resources and (2) evaluated their spatial and temporal responses to this seasonal resource event by indexing their activity patterns and relative order of arrival at carrion sites. We also quantified the length of time carrion persisted and estimated the amount of moose biomass provisioned to vertebrate scavengers by human hunters. Our results indicated that 11 vertebrate species (five birds and six mammals) scavenged moose carrion. We found that the common raven was the only species documented at all carrion sites and the most abundant species at moose carrion sites. As a species group, corvids [black-billed magpie (Pica hudsonia), common raven (Corvus corax); 0.1 ± 2.3 days] were the first to arrive at human-provisioned moose carrion sites, whereas ursids [brown bear (Ursus arctos), black bear (U. americanus); 1.3 ± 1.0 days] arrived after corvids but sooner than expected and canids [gray wolf (Canis lupus), coyote (C. latrans); 3.9 ± 3.0] arrived later than expected compared to our null model. On average, carrion persisted >20 days and hunters provided scavengers with a minimum of 2720 kg (82.7 kg/km2) and 1815 kg (64.8 kg/km2) of moose carrion during 2010 and 2011, respectively. Understanding how scavengers, particularly large carnivores, interact with human-provisioned moose carrion at the rural–wildland interface is essential for mitigating potential human–wildlife conflicts associated with humans subsidizing predators with a high-quality food resource.


Canids Corvids Carrion Moose Scavengers Subsidies 



We thank the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for providing cameras, logistical and field support, particularly J. Jemison. We appreciated in-kind support provided by Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. We thank A. Achey, M. Blakeslee, T. Lewis, E. Mount and G. Schmidt for field assistance. We thank the hunters in Gustavus for their enthusiastic participation. We appreciate constructive suggestions from J. Rivers during initial project planning. Financial assistance was provided by an Oregon State University (OSU) Diversity Advancement Pipeline Fellowship and an American Society of Mammalogists Grant-in-aid of research awarded to D.J.R. Lafferty.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diana J. R. Lafferty
    • 1
    • 5
  • Zachary G. Loman
    • 2
  • Kevin S. White
    • 3
  • Anita T. Morzillo
    • 4
  • Jerrold L. Belant
    • 1
  1. 1.Carnivore Ecology Laboratory, Forest and Wildlife Research CenterMississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA
  2. 2.Agricultural Ecology Laboratory, Forest and Wildlife Research CenterMississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA
  3. 3.Division of Wildlife ConservationAlaska Department of Fish and GameJuneauUSA
  4. 4.Department of Natural Resources and the EnvironmentUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  5. 5.Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, Program in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, David Clark LabsNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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