L. David Mech (“Dave”) is a Senior Research Scientist with the USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center and works at the St. Paul, Minnesota duty station.
Dr. Mech has studied wolves since 1958 in Isle Royale National Park (1958-1961), Minnesota (1964 to present), Yellowstone National Park (1995 to Present) , Denali National Park (1986-1995). Each summer from 1986 through 2010, he lived with, and studied, a pack of wolves tolerant to humans on Ellesmere Island, in Canada’s High Arctic. He chaired the IUCN Wolf Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union from 1978 to 2013 when the group was absorbed into the Canid Specialist Group (CSG). Dr. Mech is now an advisor on wolves to the chair of the CSG. He is continuing his research on wolf ecology and behavior, predator-prey relations, population regulation, and social ecology.
Senior Research Scientist, 1999 to present; U.S. Geological Survey
Research Wildlife Biologist, 1969 to 1999; Biological Resources Division of the USGS (formerly Division of Endangered Species Research, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Education and Certifications
Ph.D. Degree, Wildlife Ecology, Purdue University, 1962, Lafayette, IN
B.S. Degree, Conservation, Cornell University, 1958, Ithaca, NY
Honors and Awards
Aldo Leopold Memorial Award - The Wildlife Society
Science and Products
The importance of wilderness to wolf (Canis lupus) survival and cause-specific mortality over 50 years
Unexplained patterns of grey wolf Canis lupus natal dispersal
Sixty years of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) yarding in a Gray Wolf (Canis lupus)–deer system
Considerations for developing wolf harvesting regulations in the contiguous United States
An historical overview and update of wolf-moose interactions in northeastern Minnesota
Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center—Celebrating 50 years of science
An unparalleled opportunity for an important ecological study
Where can wolves live and how can we live with them?
Extinguishing a learned response in a free-ranging gray wolf (Canis lupus)
Seasonality of intraspecific mortality by gray wolves
Studies of wolf x coyote hybridization via artificial insemination
Can we save large carnivores without losing large carnivore science?
Wolf survival and cause-specific mortality from 1968-2018 in the Superior National Forest. In
Garden Lake Deer Yard (Lake Co., MN) Migration Data, 1998-2017
Wolf Hematology in the Superior National Forest, 1989-1993
Science and Products
Filter Total Items: 392
The importance of wilderness to wolf (Canis lupus) survival and cause-specific mortality over 50 yearsWe assessed the relative importance of wilderness to gray wolf (Canis lupus) population dynamics over 50 years in a population that 1) was long extant (i.e., not reintroduced or recolonized), 2) was not subject to harvest in our study area until recently, and 3) used both wilderness and adjacent, mainly public, non-wilderness. We analyzed the survival of radiocollared wolves (n = 756 collared-wolf
Unexplained patterns of grey wolf Canis lupus natal dispersalNatal dispersal (movement from the site of birth to the site of reproduction) is a pervasive but highly varied characteristic of life forms. Thus, understanding it in any species informs many aspects of biology, but studying it in most species is difficult. In the grey wolf Canis lupus, natal dispersal has been well studied. Maturing members of both sexes generally leave their natal packs, pair wi
Sixty years of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) yarding in a Gray Wolf (Canis lupus)–deer systemThis article synthesizes information from over a six-decade period of studies of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) use of a winter yard and subject to Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) predation in northeastern Minnesota. It also adds spring migration data from 35 adult female deer and fawns studied there during 1998, 1999, 2001, 2014, and 2017. Twenty-nine of these deer migrated in spring a mean d
Considerations for developing wolf harvesting regulations in the contiguous United StatesAs gray wolves (Canis lupus) are removed from the federal Endangered Species List, management reverts to the states. Eventually most states will probably allow public wolf harvesting. Open seasons between about 1 November and 1 March accord more with basic wolf biology than during other times. Managers who consider wolf biology and public sensitivities, adapt public-taking regulations accordingly,
An historical overview and update of wolf-moose interactions in northeastern MinnesotaWolf (Canis lupus) and moose (Alces americanus) populations in northeastern Minnesota, USA, have fluctuated for decades and, based on helicopter counts, moose numbers declined to a new low from 2006 to about 2012. Other steep declines were found in 1991 and 1998 during periods when moose counts were done with ®xed-wing aircraft; these declines also appeared to be real. Winter wolf numbers, monitor
Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center—Celebrating 50 years of scienceThe Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center (NPWRC) celebrated its 50-year anniversary in 2015. This report is written in support of that observance. We document why and how the NPWRC came to be and describe some of its many accomplishments and the influence the Center’s research program has had on natural resource management. The history is organized by major research themes, proceeds somewhat
An unparalleled opportunity for an important ecological studyWolves (Canis lupus) and moose (Alces americanus) have been studied since 1958 on 540-square-kilometer Isle Royale National Park, in Lake Superior. Wolves arrived there across the ice around 1949, and the population once increased to about 50, averaging about 25 annually (Mech 1966, Jordan et al. 1967, Vucetich and Peterson 2009). However, for various reasons, wolf numbers there have now dwindled
Where can wolves live and how can we live with them?In the contiguous 48 United States, southern Canada, and in Europe, wolves (Canis lupus) have greatly increased and expanded their range during the past few decades.They are prolific, disperse long distances, readily recolonize new areas where humans allow them, and are difficult to control when populations become established.Because wolves originally lived nearly everywhere throughout North Ameri
Extinguishing a learned response in a free-ranging gray wolf (Canis lupus)A free-ranging Gray Wolf (Canis lupus), habituated to human presence (the author) on Ellesmere Island, Canada, learned to anticipate experimental feeding by a human, became impatient, persistent, and bold and exhibited stalking behaviour toward the food source. Only after the author offered the wolf about 90 clumps of dry soil over a period of 45 minutes in three bouts, did the wolf give up this b
Seasonality of intraspecific mortality by gray wolvesOf 41 adult wolf-killed gray wolves (Canis lupus) and 10 probably or possibly killed by wolves from 1968 through 2014 in the Superior National Forest (SNF) in northeastern Minnesota, most were killed in months leading up to and immediately following the breeding season, which was primarily February. This finding is similar to a published sample from Denali National Park, and the seasonality of int
Studies of wolf x coyote hybridization via artificial inseminationFollowing the production of western gray wolf (Canis lupus) x western coyote (Canis latrans) hybrids via artificial insemination (AI), the present article documents that the hybrids survived in captivity for at least 4 years and successfully bred with each other. It further reports that backcrossing one of the hybrids to a male gray wolf by AI also resulted in the birth of live pups that have surv
Can we save large carnivores without losing large carnivore science?Large carnivores are depicted to shape entire ecosystems through top-down processes. Studies describing these processes are often used to support interventionist wildlife management practices, including carnivore reintroduction or lethal control programs. Unfortunately, there is an increasing tendency to ignore, disregard or devalue fundamental principles of the scientific method when communicatin
Wolf survival and cause-specific mortality from 1968-2018 in the Superior National Forest. InThis dataset contains gray wolf (Canis lupus) survival and cause-specific mortality data from radiocollared wolves (n=756 collared-wolf tenures) from 1968-2018 in the USGS Wolf Project study area (2,060 km2) of the Superior National Forest, USA, an area that also includes the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Also, included are the annual resident winter wolf counts for the study area.
Garden Lake Deer Yard (Lake Co., MN) Migration Data, 1998-2017This dataset contains the capture location and summer location of deer radio-collared in the Garden Lake deeryard, near Ely MN during the summers of 1998, 1999, 2001, 2014, and 2017. The data set also contains the distance and direction deer migrated from capture locations to summer locations.
Wolf Hematology in the Superior National Forest, 1989-1993Hematology and body mass were studied in nine female and five male free-ranging wolves in the Superior National Forest handled 4-17 times during 1989-1993. The dataset includes the following data for each wolf studied: wolf identifier, dates caught, sex, age, body mass in kg, adjusted body mass in kg, and values of hemoglobin (Hb), red blood cells (RBC), mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH), hematocr