“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.”
“Because the wolf habitat in the two US states in our study does not include wilderness and consists mostly of a human-dominated matrix, our results are particularly meaningful to understand the mechanisms of coexistence between large carnivores and people worldwide [48,49]. We recommend that efforts at leniency in environmental protections are not justified as a way to prevent illegal activities unless solid rigorous evidence is provided. We conclude by stressing that many environmental policies produce both signals and implementations, which can be treated as experimental interventions with separate and possibly contradictory effects. Whether anti-pollution or anti-poaching policies are being crafted, the perception of that policy may be as important to understand carefully, as are the enforcement and compliance checks that represent implementation.” Source: Blood does not buy goodwill: allowing culling increases poaching of a large carnivore Guillaume Chapron, Adrian Treves Published 11 May 2016.