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Abundant and commonly encountered in the field, wildlife faeces have long attracted scientists. Recent advances in molecular techniques, however, especially when coupled with creative study designs, can now yield a great variety of high quality data. Herein, we review the opportunities and challenges of faecal-centric approaches to address ecological and conservation questions using wolves of coastal British Columbia, Canada, as a case system. We begin by discussing methodological considerations, which should have broad applicability to any wildlife study system. We then summarize the extensive and unique variety of data that has emerged from our ‘facts from faeces’ approach with wolves, which has ranged from descriptive autecology to process-oriented hypothesis-testing to applied conservation management. We conclude by contrasting this non-invasive approach with radio-collaring in an ethics framework. We contend that when the two methods are equally efficacious in answering required research questions, scatology become the only ethical option, a perspective increasingly codified as policy governing research activities.


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