Elk NetworkStudy: Wolves Reshape Landscape by Killing Beavers

General | December 4, 2020

A new study indicates wolves are greatly reshaping an ecosystem in northern Minnesota because they are killing the “ecosystem engineers,” beavers that build dams and create ponds and other riparian areas.

Biologists placed collars on 32 wolves and monitored their movements and activity in Voyageurs National Park from 2015 to 2019.

According to Science magazine, wolves did not permanently reduce the beaver population but did have measurable impacts in some locations. Some wolf packs killed 40 percent of the beavers within their territories.

Researchers also determined 84 percent of newly created and recolonized beaver ponds remained occupied until the fall, whereas zero percent of newly created and recolonized ponds remained active after a wolf killed the dispersing beaver that colonized that pond.

(Photo source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)