Conflict Misleads Large Carnivore Management and Conservation: Brown Bears and Wolves in Spain.
ABSTRACT: Large carnivores inhabiting human-dominated landscapes often interact with people and their properties, leading to conflict scenarios that can mislead carnivore management and, ultimately, jeopardize conservation. In northwest Spain, brown bears Ursus arctos are strictly protected, whereas sympatric wolves Canis lupus are subject to lethal control. We explored ecological, economic and societal components of conflict scenarios involving large carnivores and damages to human properties. We analyzed the relation between complaints of depredations by bears and wolves on beehives and livestock, respectively, and bear and wolf abundance, livestock heads, number of culled wolves, amount of paid compensations, and media coverage. We also evaluated the efficiency of wolf culling to reduce depredations on livestock. Bear damages to beehives correlated positively to the number of female bears with cubs of the year. Complaints of wolf predation on livestock were unrelated to livestock numbers; instead, they correlated positively to the number of wild ungulates harvested during the previous season, the number of wolf packs, and to wolves culled during the previous season. Compensations for wolf complaints were fivefold higher than for bears, but media coverage of wolf damages was thirtyfold higher. Media coverage of wolf damages was unrelated to the actual costs of wolf damages, but the amount of news correlated positively to wolf culling. However, wolf culling was followed by an increase in compensated damages. Our results show that culling of the wolf population failed in its goal of reducing damages, and suggest that management decisions are at least partly mediated by press coverage. We suggest that our results provide insight to similar scenarios, where several species of large carnivores share the landscape with humans, and management may be reactive to perceived conflicts.
Project description:Predator control and sport hunting are often used to reduce predator populations and livestock depredations, but the efficacy of lethal control has rarely been tested. We assessed the effects of wolf mortality on reducing livestock depredations in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming from 1987-2012 using a 25 year time series. The number of livestock depredated, livestock populations, wolf population estimates, number of breeding pairs, and wolves killed were calculated for the wolf-occupied area of each state for each year. The data were then analyzed using a negative binomial generalized linear model to test for the expected negative relationship between the number of livestock depredated in the current year and the number of wolves controlled the previous year. We found that the number of livestock depredated was positively associated with the number of livestock and the number of breeding pairs. However, we also found that the number of livestock depredated the following year was positively, not negatively, associated with the number of wolves killed the previous year. The odds of livestock depredations increased 4% for sheep and 5-6% for cattle with increased wolf control--up until wolf mortality exceeded the mean intrinsic growth rate of wolves at 25%. Possible reasons for the increased livestock depredations at ?25% mortality may be compensatory increased breeding pairs and numbers of wolves following increased mortality. After mortality exceeded 25%, the total number of breeding pairs, wolves, and livestock depredations declined. However, mortality rates exceeding 25% are unsustainable over the long term. Lethal control of individual depredating wolves may sometimes necessary to stop depredations in the near-term, but we recommend that non-lethal alternatives also be considered.
Project description:Large carnivores, such as gray wolves, Canis lupus, are difficult to protect in mixed-use landscapes because some people perceive them as dangerous and because they sometimes threaten human property and safety. Governments may respond by killing carnivores in an effort to prevent repeated conflicts or threats, although the functional effectiveness of lethal methods has long been questioned. We evaluated two methods of government intervention following independent events of verified wolf predation on domestic animals (depredation) in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, USA between 1998-2014, at three spatial scales. We evaluated two intervention methods using log-rank tests and conditional Cox recurrent event, gap time models based on retrospective analyses of the following quasi-experimental treatments: (1) selective killing of wolves by trapping near sites of verified depredation, and (2) advice to owners and haphazard use of non-lethal methods without wolf-killing. The government did not randomly assign treatments and used a pseudo-control (no removal of wolves was not a true control), but the federal permission to intervene lethally was granted and rescinded independent of events on the ground. Hazard ratios suggest lethal intervention was associated with an insignificant 27% lower risk of recurrence of events at trapping sites, but offset by an insignificant 22% increase in risk of recurrence at sites up to 5.42 km distant in the same year, compared to the non-lethal treatment. Our results do not support the hypothesis that Michigan's use of lethal intervention after wolf depredations was effective for reducing the future risk of recurrence in the vicinities of trapping sites. Examining only the sites of intervention is incomplete because neighbors near trapping sites may suffer the recurrence of depredations. We propose two new hypotheses for perceived effectiveness of lethal methods: (a) killing predators may be perceived as effective because of the benefits to a small minority of farmers, and (b) if neighbors experience side-effects of lethal intervention such as displaced depredations, they may perceive the problem growing and then demand more lethal intervention rather than detecting problems spreading from the first trapping site. Ethical wildlife management guided by the "best scientific and commercial data available" would suggest suspending the standard method of trapping wolves in favor of non-lethal methods (livestock guarding dogs or fladry) that have been proven effective in preventing livestock losses in Michigan and elsewhere.
Project description:We replicated the study conducted by Wielgus and Peebles (2014) on the effect of wolf mortality on livestock depredations in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho states in the US. Their best models were found to be misspecified due to the omission of the time index and incorrect functional form. When we respecified the models, this replication failed to confirm the magnitude, direction and often the very existence of the original results. Wielgus and Peebles (2014) reported that the increase in the number of wolves culled the previous year would increase the expected number of livestock killed this year by 4 to 6%. But our results showed that the culling of one wolf the previous year would decrease the expected number of cattle killed this year by 1.9%, and the expected number of sheep killed by 3.4%. However, for every wolf killed there is a corresponding 2.2% increase in the expected number of sheep killed in the same year. The increase in sheep depredation appears to be a short term phenomenon.
Project description:Quantifying environmental crime and the effectiveness of policy interventions is difficult because perpetrators typically conceal evidence. To prevent illegal uses of natural resources, such as poaching endangered species, governments have advocated granting policy flexibility to local authorities by liberalizing culling or hunting of large carnivores. We present the first quantitative evaluation of the hypothesis that liberalizing culling will reduce poaching and improve population status of an endangered carnivore. We show that allowing wolf (Canis lupus) culling was substantially more likely to increase poaching than reduce it. Replicated, quasi-experimental changes in wolf policies in Wisconsin and Michigan, USA, revealed that a repeated policy signal to allow state culling triggered repeated slowdowns in wolf population growth, irrespective of the policy implementation measured as the number of wolves killed. The most likely explanation for these slowdowns was poaching and alternative explanations found no support. When the government kills a protected species, the perceived value of each individual of that species may decline; so liberalizing wolf culling may have sent a negative message about the value of wolves or acceptability of poaching. Our results suggest that granting management flexibility for endangered species to address illegal behaviour may instead promote such behaviour.
Project description:Hunting dog depredation by wolves triggers retaliatory killing, with negative impacts on wildlife conservation. In the wider area of the Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest National Park, reports on such incidents have increased lately. To investigate this conflict, we interviewed 56 affected hunters, conducted wolf trophic analysis, analyzed trends for 2010-2020, applied MAXENT models for risk-map creation, and GLMs to explore factors related to depredation levels. Losses averaged approximately one dog per decade and hunter showing a positive trend, while livestock depredations showed a negative trend. Wolves preyed mainly on wild prey, with dogs consisting of 5.1% of the winter diet. Low altitude areas, with low to medium livestock availability favoring wolf prey and game species, were the riskiest. Dogs were more vulnerable during hare hunting and attacks more frequent during wolf post-weaning season or in wolf territories with reproduction. Hunter experience and group hunting reduced losses. Wolves avoided larger breeds or older dogs. Making noise or closely keeping dogs reduced attack severity. Protective dog vests, risk maps, and enhancing wolf natural prey availability are further measures to be considered, along with a proper verification system to confirm and effectively separate wolf attacks from wild boar attacks, which were also common.
Project description:Remedial sport hunting of predators is often used to reduce predator populations and associated complaints and livestock depredations. We assessed the effects of remedial sport hunting on reducing cougar complaints and livestock depredations in Washington from 2005 to 2010 (6 years). The number of complaints, livestock depredations, cougars harvested, estimated cougar populations, human population and livestock populations were calculated for all 39 counties and 136 GMUs (game management units) in Washington. The data was then analyzed using a negative binomial generalized linear model to test for the expected negative relationship between the number of complaints and depredations in the current year with the number of cougars harvested the previous year. As expected, we found that complaints and depredations were positively associated with human population, livestock population, and cougar population. However, contrary to expectations we found that complaints and depredations were most strongly associated with cougars harvested the previous year. The odds of increased complaints and livestock depredations increased dramatically (36 to 240%) with increased cougar harvest. We suggest that increased young male immigration, social disruption of cougar populations, and associated changes in space use by cougars - caused by increased hunting resulted in the increased complaints and livestock depredations. Widespread indiscriminate hunting does not appear to be an effective preventative and remedial method for reducing predator complaints and livestock depredations.
Project description:Habitat selection of animals depends on factors such as food availability, landscape features, and intra- and interspecific interactions. Individuals can show several behavioral responses to reduce competition for habitat, yet the mechanisms that drive them are poorly understood. This is particularly true for large carnivores, whose fine-scale monitoring is logistically complex and expensive. In Scandinavia, the home-range establishment and kill rates of gray wolves (Canis lupus) are affected by the coexistence with brown bears (Ursus arctos). Here, we applied resource selection functions and a multivariate approach to compare wolf habitat selection within home ranges of wolves that were either sympatric or allopatric with bears. Wolves selected for lower altitudes in winter, particularly in the area where bears and wolves are sympatric, where altitude is generally higher than where they are allopatric. Wolves may follow the winter migration of their staple prey, moose (Alces alces), to lower altitudes. Otherwise, we did not find any effect of bear presence on wolf habitat selection, in contrast with our previous studies. Our new results indicate that the manifestation of a specific driver of habitat selection, namely interspecific competition, can vary at different spatial-temporal scales. This is important to understand the structure of ecological communities and the varying mechanisms underlying interspecific interactions.
Project description:Large carnivores are often persecuted due to conflict with human activities, making their conservation in human-modified landscapes very challenging. Conflict-related scenarios are increasing worldwide, due to the expansion of human activities or to the recovery of carnivore populations. In general, brown bears Ursus arctos avoid humans and their settlements, but they may use some areas close to people or human infrastructures. Bear damages in human-modified landscapes may be related to the availability of food resources of human origin, such as beehives. However, the association of damage events with factors that may predispose bears to cause damages has rarely been investigated. We investigated bear damages to apiaries in the Cantabrian Mountains (Spain), an area with relatively high density of bears. We included spatial, temporal and environmental factors and damage prevention measures in our analyses, as factors that may influence the occurrence and intensity of damages. In 2006-2008, we located 61 apiaries, which included 435 beehives damaged in the study area (346 km2). The probability of an apiary being attacked was positively related to both the intensity of the damage suffered the year before and the distance to the nearest damaged apiary, and negatively related to the number of prevention measures employed as well as the intensity of the damage suffered by the nearest damage apiary. The intensity of damage to apiaries was positively related to the size of the apiary and to vegetation cover in the surroundings, and negatively related to the number of human settlements. Minimizing the occurrence of bear damages to apiaries seems feasible by applying and maintaining proper prevention measures, especially before an attack occurs and selecting appropriate locations for beehives (e.g. away from forest areas). This applies to areas currently occupied by bears, and to neighbouring areas where dispersing individuals may expand their range.
Project description:Pastoralist-wolf conflict over livestock depredation is the main factor affecting conservation of grey wolf worldwide. Very limited research has been carried out to evaluate the pattern and nature of livestock depredation by wolf. This study aims to determine the status and nature of human-wolf conflict across different villages in the Hind Kush region of Pakistan during the period January 2016-December 2016. For this purpose, a total of 110 local male respondents from all walks of life were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. The grey wolf was declared as a common species in the area by 51.3% of the locals with an annual sighting rate of 0.46 each. During the year (2016), a total of 358 livestock were lost to grey wolf predation and disease. Of the total livestock loss, grey wolf was held responsible for a total 101 livestock losses. Goat and sheep were the most vulnerable prey species as they accounted for 80 (79.2%) of the total reported depredations. Out of the total economic loss (USD 46,736, USD 424.87/household), grey wolf was accountable for USD 11,910 (USD 108.27 per household), while disease contributed 34,826 (USD 316.6 per household). High depredation was observed during the summer season 58.42% (n = 59) followed by spring and autumn. Unattended livestock were more prone to grey wolf attack during free grazing in forests. Most of the respondents (75.45%) showed aggressive and negative attitudes towards grey wolf. The herders shared more negative attitude (z = -3.21, p = 0.001) than businessman towards the species. Herders having larger herd size displayed more deleterious behavior towards wolves than those having smaller herd size. Active herding techniques, vaccinating livestock, educating locals about wildlife importance, and initiating compensating schemes for affected families could be helpful to decrease negative perceptions.
Project description: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.