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Minnesota wolf pups dying from virus, study finds

Half of wolf pups born in Minnesota each year die from a disease that has stunted the growth of the state's wolf population, study finds.

The highly contagious disease, the canine parovirus, kills between 40 percent and 60 percent of wolf pups, the study details in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases.

The gray wolf population in other states has increased substantially, but there is only a 4 percent growth in Minnesota compared to the 16 to 58 percent in other states, David Mech, a scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey, said.

The virus attacks the gastrointestinal tract of the pups, and can kill them within a few days, reported a Post-Bulletin article.

Dan Stark, wolf specialist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, thinks disease isn't the only reason the population has stabilized and says that the problem needs to studied further.