Helping carnivores and people co-exist

November 24, 2003

When wolves and other large carnivores threaten people and livestock, wildlife managers often resort to killing them. But now there's hope for a non-lethal solution to controlling carnivores. New research shows that movement-activated guards with strobe lights and sound recordings can help keep wolves and bears away.

"High-technology devices are much more expensive, complicated and limited in effectiveness than a single bullet from a high-powered rifle, but they also allow a predator to live - surely the goal of conservation," say John Shivik of the United States Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center and Utah State University in Logan; Adrian Treves, who did this work while at Conservation International in Madison, Wisconsin, and is now at the Wildlife Conservation Society in Bronx, New York; and Peggy Callahan of the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minnesota.

This work is part of a six-paper special section co-edited by Treves on the conflict between people and carnivores in the December issue of Conservation Biology.

Conflicts between people and carnivores are rising as people spread into remote habitats and as large carnivores recover from past eradication efforts. While wildlife managers often address these conflicts by killing "problem" animals, this runs counter to conservation efforts and could impede the recovery of rare carnivores. "To promote the existence and expansion of large carnivores, conservation biologists should assist with the real-world problems predators cause," say the researchers.

To help find non-lethal ways of controlling carnivores, Shivik and his colleagues did two experiments to see if movement-activated devices could deter predators from feeding. First, the researchers compared the predators' consumption of road-killed deer carcasses before and after treating them with movement-activated guards. This experiment was done on wild predators including wolves and bears in northwest Wisconsin; the carcasses were replaced regularly; the pre-treatment and treatment periods ranged from roughly a week to a month; and the movement-activated guards had strobe lights and recordings of 30 sounds, including yelling, gunfire and helicopters.

In the second experiment, the researchers compared wolves' consumption of sled-dog chow before and after treating it with movement-activated guards. This experiment was done on captive wolves at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minnesota, and the researchers determined how much of a 1-kg portion of sled-dog chow the wolves ate in an hour.

Both experiments showed that the movement-activated guards deterred the predators from feeding. In the experiment with wild predators, the movement-activated guards decreased the consumption of deer carcasses by about two-thirds (from roughly 3.3 to 1 kg per day). Similarly, in the experiment with captive wolves, the movement-activated guards decreased the consumption of dog food by about three-quarters (from roughly 0.8 to 0.2 kg).

The movement-activated guards have some drawbacks: they do not keep the predators away completely, and they are too costly and complicated to be feasible for many wildlife managers. Even so, movement-activated guards are still promising. "Non-lethal approaches to managing predation ...provide a means for conservation biologists to target areas with high predation levels and increase acceptance of large mammalian predators," say Shivik and his colleagues.
-end-
John Shivik: 435-797-1348, 435-245-6091, john.shivik@aphis.usda.gov
Adrian Treves: 718-741-8197, atreves@wcs.org
For PDFs of papers, please reply to this message.

For pictures provided by the researchers
http://www.conbio.org/SCB/Services/Tips/2003-12-Dec.cfm

For more information about the Society for Conservation Biology
http://conservationbiology.org/

Society for Conservation Biology

Related Conservation Articles from Brightsurf:

New guide on using drones for conservation
Drones are a powerful tool for conservation - but they should only be used after careful consideration and planning, according to a new report.

Elephant genetics guide conservation
A large-scale study of African elephant genetics in Tanzania reveals the history of elephant populations, how they interact, and what areas may be critical to conserve in order to preserve genetic diversity of the species.

Measuring the true cost of conservation
BU Professor created the first high-resolution map of land value in the United states.

Environmental groups moving beyond conservation
Although non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become powerful voices in world environmental politics, little is known of the global picture of this sector.

Hunting for the next generation of conservation stewards
Wildlife ecology students become the professionals responsible for managing the biodiversity of natural systems for species conservation.

Conservation research on lynx
Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (Leibniz-FMP) discovered that selected anti-oxidative enzymes, especially the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD2), may play an important role to maintain the unusual longevity of the corpus luteum in lynxes.

New 'umbrella' species would massively improve conservation
The protection of Australia's threatened species could be improved by a factor of seven, if more efficient 'umbrella' species were prioritised for protection, according to University of Queensland research.

Trashed farmland could be a conservation treasure
Low-productivity agricultural land could be transformed into millions of hectares of conservation reserve across the world, according to University of Queensland-led research.

Bats in attics might be necessary for conservation
Researchers investigate and describe the conservation importance of buildings relative to natural, alternative roosts for little brown bats in Yellowstone National Park.

Applying biodiversity conservation research in practice
One million species are threatened with extinction, many of them already in the coming decades.

Read More: Conservation News and Conservation Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.