Non-lethal methods can resolve conflicts between bears and humans

December 15, 2003

How do you keep a black bear from taking out the backyard bird feeder or going through your garbage? Play the sound of a helicopter, or flash a strobe light, say scientists from the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and other organizations, who tested several non-lethal techniques to minimize conflicts between humans and large carnivores.

The scientists, who published their results in the December edition of Conservation Biology, compared the effectiveness of non-lethal methods for keeping large carnivores away from human structures, livestock, and other potential conflict areas. They found that motion-activated lights and sounds can keep both large- and medium-sized predators away from food sources, thus preventing a clash that can result in large carnivores being destroyed.

"In wealthy countries such as the United States, non-lethal repellents such as motion-activated guards can help resolve human-carnivore conflicts without destroying animals that perform important ecological roles" said Dr. Adrian Treves, a conservationist with WCS's Living Landscapes program and co-author of the study. "We need better methods and we need to consider human behavior as part of the problem--limiting the accessibility of food sources whether its garbage, crops or livestock."

In the study, conservationists tested the non-lethal repellent methods in six wolf territories in Wisconsin (which also contained black bears and other predators). The study found that motion-activated devices, with strobe lights and 30 random noises, were effective for keeping predators away from deer carcasses at the study sites, including bald eagles, wolves, vultures--and black bears. Fladry--a wolf management method from Eastern Europe using flags on fences--may be moderately effective in repelling wolves, but not bears.

"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," states Dr. John Shivik, of Wildlife Services' National Wildlife Research Center and Utah State University, the lead author of the study. Other authors included Peggy Callahan of the Wildlife Science Center.

In a comparison with methods on captive wolves, motion activated guards rated higher than electronic training collars--similar to the "invisible fence" collars used to keep domesticated dogs on home properties. Some wolves simply tolerated the mild electronic shocks and continued to feed

"There is no single solution for every situation but individuals and communities should be given a variety of options so they can tailor their responses to their needs and tolerances," Treves said. "Non-lethal deterrents can now be offered as one option."
-end-


Wildlife Conservation Society

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.