A research team from Nottingham Trent University, UK, has developed a computer program to analyse the vocal signatures of eastern grey wolves. Individual wild wolves can now be recognised by just their howls with 100% accuracy, the study has shown.
Because a wolf pack’s range can be huge, it is difficult for conservationists to track them visually. But the new technology could provide a way for conservationists to monitor individual wolves by sound alone.
“Wolves howl a lot in the wild,” said PhD student Holly Root-Gutteridge, head researcher. Wolves use their distinctive calls to protect territory from rivals and to call to other pack members. They enjoy it as a group activity. When you get a chorus howl going they all join in.”
The researchers tested their new device by studying dozens of archive recordings of wild eastern grey wolf howls, from Algonquin park, Canada, and collected by the British Library in London. Their success rate was 100% when recognizing individual wolves from their solo howls. And they achieved an accuracy of 97% when identifying wolves calling together in a “chorus howl”.