Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Is Hunting Wolves Key to Their Conservation?

09.08.2011
Hunters have been credited with being strong conservation advocates for numerous game species in multiple countries. Would initiating a wolf hunt invoke the same advocacy for the carnivores?

It’s a pressing question as gray wolves were removed from the federal endangered species list in some western states this past May and are poised for delisting in 2012 in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and other areas of the Midwest. But newly released public opinion surveys conducted in Wisconsin and the northern Rockies suggest that wolves are in a class by themselves and that existing deer, elk, and other game hunts are poor models for a potential wolf hunt.

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers Adrian Treves and Kerry Martin surveyed 2,320 residents of Wisconsin, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming – including both hunters and non-hunters – between 2001 and 2007. Their findings, appearing in the August issue of the peer-reviewed journal Society and Natural Resources, reveal hunter attitudes toward wolves that are largely inconsistent with stewardship.

Questions assessed a range of factors including acceptance of management policy, tolerance of the carnivores, willingness to kill a wolf illegally, adherence to hunt regulations, and expected financial support of conservation.

“Hunters were some of the least tolerant of wolves among our respondents, and the closer you got to wolf range the less tolerant they were,” says Treves, a professor in the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

One issue may be that hunters often view wolves as competition for deer and other game. Opening a wolf hunt may not immediately shift that perception to viewing wolves as another game species to be conserved.

Treves was also surprised by the level of support expressed for a regulated wolf hunt among non-hunters and those living outside wolf range. In Wisconsin, for example, he says, “You find a surprising amount of support for a public regulated harvest of wolves even in places like Madison, Fond du Lac, or Sister Bay.”

But these endorsements tend to be conditional, he cautions, and the conditions vary. For example, many people support the idea of a “sustainable” hunt – though “sustainable” was undefined in this context – or hunting as a way to reduce attacks on livestock and other conflicts between wolves and humans.

“To me that says that people see hunting as a tool for enabling coexistence,” Treves says.

But the evidence simply isn’t there to indicate that hunting wolves would affect depredations of domestic animals. No depredation data were reported following a hunt in Idaho and Montana conducted during a window of time in 2009 when the animals were not federally protected. And though wolves have been hunted legally in Alaska for decades, the scarcity of domestic animals and difference in landscape make it nearly impossible to draw conclusions that would apply to the lower 48.

A risk map Treves and others published in June shows that wolf attacks on livestock in Wisconsin are highly localized and attributable to a relatively small number of packs. The majority of packs do not cause problems despite living in close proximity to humans, which raises significant questions about the efficacy of a general hunt to alleviate perceived problems.

“The assumption that hunting and reducing the number of animals will reduce livestock losses would be proven false if hunters are targeting the wrong animals, such as animals in wilderness areas,” he says, adding that it will be important to understand hunter motivations. “Wolves in wilderness areas don’t kill livestock, it’s the wolves on the edge in agricultural areas. Do hunters want to hunt in farmland? I’m not sure.”

The uncertainty of how hunting would affect wolf populations could also become a legal issue, says UW-Madison law professor Stephanie Tai, citing a precedent of legal challenges of federal delisting decisions. “People have challenged delistings for a number of reasons, and some of those have been successful,” she says. “Often, successful lawsuits bring up factors the Fish and Wildlife Service may not have considered, which could include the effect of allowing hunting.”

The challenge, Treves says, is to balance human needs with the need to conserve wolves as an essential component of ecosystems. In a viewpoint piece published in the August issue of the journal BioScience, Treves and Jeremy Bruskotter, an environment and natural resources professor at The Ohio State University, present some possible scenarios for the future of wolf management in the U.S. Those scenarios include reclassifying the wolves as threatened, which would permit lethal control under certain circumstances, or enacting specific federal protections outside the Endangered Species Act, such as those currently in place for bald eagles, wild horses, and migratory birds.

They advocate geographically tailored approaches that will permit local-level control within a federal framework to strike a balance between wolves and humans. Sound long-term management can include a public regulated hunt, they say, but it will unquestionably require compromise.

“A public regulated harvest is a collaboration between hunters and the state, which requires give and take. I think the next few years in Wisconsin will reveal how well that collaboration works,” says Treves.

Jill Sakai | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.wisc.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>