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Return of the wolves: How deer escape tactics help save their lives

As gray wolves continue to make a strong comeback in Washington state, their presence can't help but impact other animals -- particularly the ones these large carnivores target as prey. White-tailed deer and mule deer, two distinct species common in Washington, are among wolves' favorite catches. Wolves will chase deer great distances -- sometimes upwards of 6 miles (10 kilometers) -- in search of a satisfying meal. How these two deer species respond to the threat of being pursued by wolves in the early years of this predator's return could shed light on changes to their behavior and numbers. To help answer this question, National Science Foundation-funded researchers monitored the behavior and activity of wolves and deer in Washington for three years. They found that mule deer exposed to wolves, in particular, are changing their behavior to spend more time away from roads, at higher elevations and in rockier landscapes.

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