In this study, we investigated wolf feeding ecology in Kars province, north-eastern Turkey, by analysing 72 scat samples collected in spring 2013. Ongoing camera trap surveys suggest that large wild ungulates are exceptionally rare in the region. On the contrary, livestock is abundant. Accordingly, scats analysis revealed that livestock constituted most of the biomass intake for wolves, although small mammals were the most frequent prey items. Wild ungulates were occasional prey, and although wolves make use of the main village garbage dump as a food source, garbage remains were scarce in scat samples. Wolf dependence on anthropogenic resources, primarily livestock, generates human-wildlife conflicts in the study area. Uncontrolled carcass disposal seems to boost this wolf behaviour. Synanthropy enhances the probability of wolf-human encounters and thus increases the risk of direct persecution, vehicle collisions, and hybridisation with dogs. When livestock is not available, small mammals are an important alternative prey for wolves. This may increase interspecific competition, particularly with lynx, which is also lacking natural prey in the area. Our preliminary results contribute to wolf ecology and conservation in the Anatolian-Caucasian range, where further studies are urgently needed to generate baseline data.
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Mammalia is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to the inventory, analysis and interpretation of Mammalian diversity. It publishes original results on all aspects of systematics (comparative, functional and evolutionary morphology; morphometrics; phylogeny; biogeography; taxonomy and nomenclature), biology, ecology and conservation of mammals.