Top predators like wolves, bears, lions and tigers have declined dramatically around the world over the past century

Conservationists widen toolkit for predator management

Source: Berkeley News 
By Brett Israel,  12/13/16

Top predators like wolves, bears, lions and tigers have declined dramatically around the world over the past century. One major driver of these declines is retaliatory killing by people following predator attacks on domestic livestock. This lethal approach to predator management is increasingly controversial not only because of ethical concerns, but also the role predators can play in healthy ecosystems. A new UC Berkeley study shows that many non-lethal methods of predator control can be highly effective in protecting livestock from predators and in turn, saving predators from people.
A tiger drags a cow at Jennie Miller’s study site in India

The Berkeley study examined 66 published, peer-reviewed research papers that measured how four categories of lethal and non-lethal mitigation techniques — preventive livestock husbandry, predator deterrents, predator removal, and indirect management of land or wild prey — influenced attacks on livestock. The most consistently effective tools (showing 70 percent or greater effectiveness in at least two studies) were guard dogs, electric fencing, electrified fladry (electric fence with hanging colored flags), light and sound devices, shock collar, and removal of predators, which includes both killing and translocation to other places.
“Livestock owners spend immense resources on stopping carnivore attacks but may never know whether the costs were truly worthwhile,” said Jennie Miller, a researcher at Panthera who will become a postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley in the Department of Environmental, Science, Policy and Management in January. “If livestock owners can’t choose the most efficient tool for handling their problem predator and protecting their livelihood, how can we possibly expect them to peaceably coexist with large carnivores in their backyards?”
The study was published December 13 in the Wildlife Society Bulletin.
Large carnivores are critical to protect because, as top predators, they can stabilize entire ecosystems. Despite their importance, 77 percent of the 31 largest terrestrial carnivores are declining in population, with 61 percent listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered. The global decline in large carnivores is due to many factors, including human-carnivore conflict that often stems from the need to stop carnivores from attacking livestock. At the same time, chronic conflict with large carnivores can threaten agricultural systems, which must be viable to support rural livelihoods and economies.
Currently there is little consensus on which management techniques are most useful and under what circumstances, or on the associated tradeoffs between duration and effectiveness level. That’s partly because so few studies have quantitatively measured the effects of some promising methods. For example, human guards and killing predators — both of which involve high financial and time costs and implications for human and animal well-being — have been quantitatively tested by just one study each.
A night enclosure for livestock at Miller’s study site in India 

A night enclosure for livestock at Miller’s study site in India. (Photo by Jennie Miller)
The new study found that preventive husbandry and deterrents were most effective in reducing livestock losses. These methods, however, showed wide variability due to a suite of external factors, such as how well equipment was installed and maintained. Husbandry methods ranged between 42 percent and 100 percent effective, while deterrents ranged anywhere from highly effective to wholly ineffective.
The wide variability could also be due to an apparent tradeoff between the effectiveness of protective methods and the length of time a given tool remains effective. Deterrents, therefore, are likely most effective when implemented during brief times of high carnivore risk, such as the calving or lambing season, when short-term protection of livestock would save the most animals from attacks.
“This paper shows that if we step back and take a broader look, we can derive some working principles to help guide more effective control of livestock depredation and minimize the need for lethal control of these iconic animals,” said co-author Oswald Schmitz, Oastler Professor of Population and Community Ecology at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Lethal predator control has received particularly little study and monitoring, the study’s authors pointed out.
“In spite of lethal control being very widely used, it really hasn’t been studied well enough to make scientific comparisons with other, non-lethal methods, which is surprising,” said Arthur Middleton,an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management and a study co-author.
As a result, the authors suggest the lethal management method should receive closer monitoring and more rigorous testing.
The study also identified many negative biases in studies of techniques to reduce livestock losses, including the lack of replication across carnivore species and geographic regions, a heavy focus on the Canidae family (wolves and coyotes) and on the United States, Europe and Africa, and a publication bias towards studies that reported positive results. To prevent these biases in future studies, the authors are recommending a review group and additional funding to support rigorous testing of methods, especially the usefulness of human guards and lethal control, since these techniques involve large financial and time costs and have detrimental impacts on human health and carnivore populations.
“Chronic conflict between large carnivores and livestock not only limits the long-term viability of many carnivore populations – it also carries economic and emotional costs for the livestock producers and others involved in these conflicts,” Middleton said. “All these are important to alleviate, no matter how long it takes.” Source

The Big Bad Wolf Gets A Rebranding; A new way to look at the wolf in arts and literature.

The wolf has been given a bad rap through-out western culture. The visual arts and literature has played an active role in perpetuating this fear and hate of wolves. We are all familiar with  ‘The big Bad Wolf’ and ‘The three Little Pigs’ as examples of children’s books written about wild wolves for the purpose of instilling fear. I am a retired art teacher that believes art has an influence on culture. Therefore, was delighted to come across this article on that very subject, and decided to immediately post this on my blog.

Story Source: The Big Bad Wolf Gets A Rebranding By Adele Peters is a staff writer at Co.Exist who focuses on sustainable design. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley. You can reach her at apeters at fastcompany dot com. Continued

The Big Bad Wolf Gets A Rebranding

An endangered species is worthy of our care, not fear.

[All Images: courtesy Creative Action Network]

[All Images: courtesy Creative Action Network]

Ever since the publication of Little Red Riding Hood—and even long before—wolves have gotten a bad rap in pop culture (with the possible exception of wolf-themed indie band names). A new art campaign seeks to rebrand the Big Bad Wolf as a misunderstood hero, in an attempt to help build support for an endangered species that doesn’t get a lot of love.

“Art plays a role in how we as a society understand certain issues and ideas, and wolves are one case where art and culture have kind of done a misservice,” says Max Slavkin, CEO of the Creative Action Network, which partnered with the nonprofit Earthjustice on the new campaign. The #JoinThePack campaign will crowdsource new gray wolf art from a community of artists and designers, which will be turned into T-shirts and posters.

“The stories that we all kind of know, where wolves are the bad guy, seem innocuous enough, but have a real impact on how we view wolves in real life, where we want them to be, and how we treat them when we encounter them,” Slavkin says. “So much of that seems to have stemmed from stories and art over the last however-many hundred years. It feel like it’s our responsibility as a community of artists to try to set it right, especially now that wolves are maybe more threatened than they’ve ever been before.”

[All Images: courtesy Creative Action Network]

[All Images: courtesy Creative Action Network]

Twenty years ago, wolves were reintroduced to places like Yellowstone and parts of Idaho—both to help reset local ecosystems that had been thrown out of balance when wolves first disappeared and as actions taken to restore wolf populations under the Endangered Species Act. But though the population has grown, wolves have faced opposition ever since. When wolves accidentally crossed the border from Yellowstone into other parts of Wyoming, until last fall, they could be shot.

There’s also the ongoing possibility that the wolf could be taken off the endangered species list for politically motivated reasons. It’s been delisted in some areas, put back in others, and could easily be delisted elsewhere. This year, Congress slipped a rider into a government spending bill that would eliminate protections for wolves in several states, opening them up to hunters.

“When we started on this campaign, I was surprised to learn just how much is going on today in Congress and state legislatures that’s really bad for wolves,” Slavkin says.

[All Images: courtesy Creative Action Network]

[All Images: courtesy Creative Action Network]

He’s hoping the campaign can help start a bigger conversation, and do it in a fun way—one of the requirements of the designs is that they display some degree of kitsch. “We didn’t want it to be ‘wolves are awesome, end of story,'” Slavkin says. “We thought something fun and kitschy would make people smile, and make people interested in a way that other images couldn’t.”

[All Images: courtesy Creative Action Network]

Source