Nav: Home

How to achieve a peaceful coexistence between wolves and humans

June 01, 2018

The persecution of wolves in order to remove them from human settlements has culminated in their near-disappearance in numerous European countries, like Spain and Sweden. Following a recovery of the species, a team of scientists has determined what geographic areas in the Scandinavian country would be most suitable for a redistribution of the specie's range, in the interests of increasing the social acceptance of wolves.

The conflict between wolves and humans is a fight over territory and livestock. This centuries-long struggle has led to the near extinction of this great carnivore in 1970s Spain, as well as in other countries such as Sweden in the middle of the last century. In the 60s, there were no breeding populations in Sweden and only 10 specimens extant in Scandinavia.

It is for this reason that, in 1966, the Swedish government formally protected the species in a country where 70% of its surface is characterized by large forests, most of them intended for trade.

Of the 438,600 km2 of the country, only 3% has buildings and 8% corresponds to agriculture. Under government protection, the first reproduction of wolves took place in 1978 and the population began to grow about fifteen years later. At present, the population of Swedish wolves exceeds 400 individuals.

These animals are concentrated "in the central parts of southern Sweden, with high regional densities that cause conflicts in local communities," Fredrik Dalerum, a researcher at the University of Oviedo and the University of Stockholm (Sweden), has told Sinc.

These conflicts have resulted in illegal wolf hunting. According to experts, the problem will continue as long as the authorities fail to simultaneously manage the interests of the towns closest to wildlife habitats and those of the wolves themselves.

In this regard, Sweden's national management plan for wolves aims to "redirect the geographical distribution of the wolf population to other parts of the country, including the previously unoccupied reindeer husbandry area, in order to decrease densities in areas where they are currently high," Dalerum points out.

In a study, recently published in Biological Conservation, this researcher, together with the scientist Therese Eriksson from the University of Stockholm, has analyzed the spatial and demographic progression of the population of Swedish wolves from 2000 to 2015 with modern spatial modelling techniques. These scientists were able to identify the appropriate areas for expanding the spatial distribution of these carnivores.

The best areas for wolves

During the fifteen year record, the population of Swedish wolves increased from 10 to 60 breeding pairs of stable territories, occupying a maximum annual range of 34,800 km2, corresponding to 8% of Sweden's land area.

Most of the animals stayed within the central parts of the country´s south. This concentration was mainly due to "a successful management strategy to keep the wolves out of the reindeer breeding area, which takes up almost half of the surface," says the researcher.

Although only one tenth of the Scandinavian country was inhabited in 2015, close to 50% is regarded as an adequate range for wolves. Much of northern Sweden, for example, comprises boreal forests that could make a suitable habitat for this canid.

"We identified possible areas of expansion in south western Sweden and within the reindeer husbandry area, mainly in its southern and central parts and along the Baltic coast," adds Dalerum.

The future success of Swedish wolf management requires an approach that promotes local acceptance by people who coexist with wolves. "Our results can be used to identify those areas where it may be more important to work on achieving this social acceptance," concludes the researcher.
-end-
Reference:

Eriksson, T. y Dalerum, F. 2018. "Identifying potential areas for an expanding wolf population in Sweden" Biological Conservation 220: 170-181 DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2018.02.019

FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

Related Wolves Articles:

Dogs and wolves are both good at cooperating
A team of researchers have found that dogs and wolves are equally good at cooperating with partners to obtain a reward.
'Wolves in sheep's clothing' -- the superbugs outsmarting laboratory tests
Hospital screening tests are failing to identify the true extent of microbial resistance, according to new research.
What wolves' teeth reveal about their lives
UCLA biologist discovers what wolves' broken teeth reveal about their lives.
Fearing cougars more than wolves, Yellowstone elk manage threats from both predators
Wolves are charismatic, conspicuous, and easy to single out as the top predator affecting populations of elk, deer, and other prey animals.
Genomics of Isle Royale wolves reveal impacts of inbreeding
A new paper explores the genetic signatures of a pair of wolves isolated on Isle Royale, a remote national park in Lake Superior.
Surprisingly, inbred isle royale wolves dwindle because of fewer harmful genes
The tiny, isolated gray wolf population on Isle Royale has withered to near-extinction, but not because each animal carries a large number of harmful genes, according to a new genetic analysis.
Wolf-dog 'swarms' threaten Europe's wolves
'Swarms' of wolf-dog crossbreeds could drive Europe's wolves out of existence, according to the lead author of new research.
The return of the wolves
Researchers examine global strategies for dealing with predators.
Wolves more prosocial than pack dogs in touchscreen experiment
In a touchscreen-based task that allowed individual animals to provide food to others, wolves behaved more prosocially toward their fellow pack members than did pack dogs.
Isle Royale winter study: 13 new wolves, 20 radio-collared moose
Michigan Technological University's 2019 Isle Royale Winter Study focuses on the implications of newly introduced wolves and the movements of newly collared moose.
More Wolves News and Wolves Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.