The use of canid tooth marks on bone for the identification of livestock predation


Historically wolves and humans have had a conflictive relationship which has driven the wolf to extinction in some areas across Northern America and Europe. The last decades have seen a rise of multiple government programs to protect wolf populations. Nevertheless, these programs have been controversial in rural areas, product of the predation of livestock by carnivores. As a response to such issues, governments have presented large scale economic plans to compensate the respected owners. The current issue lies in the lack of reliable techniques that can be used to detect the predator responsible for livestock predation. This has led to complications when obtaining subsidies, creating conflict between landowners and government officials. The objectives of this study therefore are to provide a new alternative approach to differentiating between tooth marks of different predators responsible for livestock predation. Here we present the use of geometric morphometrics and Machine Learning algorithms to discern between different carnivores through in depth analysis of the tooth marks they leave on bone. These results present high classification rates with up to 100% accuracy in some cases, successfully differentiating between wolves, dogs and fox tooth marks.