Wolf\'s diet

Domestic animals (sheep, goat and to a lesser extent smaller cattle and dog) account for 84 per cent of the wolf\'s diet in the area of Dalmatia, as opposed to Gorski kotar where wild even-toed animals (doe, deer and wild boar to some extent) with their share of 77 per cent make the main wolf\'s prey.

The wolf\'s ecological niche is a \"hunter of large mammals\", meaning that his main prey are large cloven-hoofed mammals (Artiodactyla) and rarely those hoofed (Perissodactyla). The wolf will eat up any other animal he may catch too. It has long since been known that when hunting wolves choose the prey easier to catch at the particular moment (Mech, 1970; Frits and Mech, 1981), but this changes during the year (Mech and assoc., 1995). So in an ecosystem containing more types of prey they will hunt the type more readily available and therefore easily accessible, taking animals weakened by their age, illness and famine or the young (Ballard and assoc., 1981; Mech, 1970, 1998; Peterson, 1977). In this way wolves affect positively the health of the prey population and contribute to the stability of the entire ecosystem. Without predators the number of herbivores in unaffected ecosystems can increase to such an extent that it may result in the reduction of their nutritional basis (disturbance of forest restoration, even a complete defoliation up to creation of karst) which can ultimately lead to a considerable reduction in the number of herbivores themselves or their complete disappearance.

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