“It’s just hard to live alongside large carnivores. They damage crops, they kill livestock and pets, they threaten people’s safety,” says University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Adrian Treves. And the sheer presence of a wolf nearby has typically been enough to make farmers fear for their animals, he adds. “Wherever there were carnivores, people thought there was risk.”
But Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs notwithstanding, not all wolves are big and bad. Even as Wisconsin’s wolf population grows, intensifying the potential for conflicts with people, Treves’ research is revealing that one of the most visible types of conflict — attacks on livestock — is highly localized and may be predictable.
Treves, head of the Carnivore Coexistence Laboratory in the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, works in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to understand and mediate human-carnivore conflicts with an eye toward reducing the threat to both people and animals.
When problems arise, Treves says, “people traditionally respond by retaliating, either by clearing wildlife habitat or by killing the carnivores.”
It’s an approach that simply isn’t sustainable, he says, noting that top carnivores are linchpin species in many ecosystems and among the most endangered species on the planet. “How do you balance people’s need for safety and their livelihoods — livestock and crops — how do you balance that human need with the global imperative to conserve nature?”
Their research on the topic has now yielded a risk map of wolf attacks on livestock in Wisconsin, which identifies areas of high and low risk throughout the state. The study, co-authored with Adrian Wydeven and Jane Wiedenhoeft of the Wisconsin DNR and Kerry Martin of UW-Madison, appears in the June issue of the journal BioScience.
Risk mapping is already used in a wide range of settings, from police activity to outbreaks of infectious disease, as a way to mobilize and manage resources. It’s a very common-sense approach, Treves says, based on identifying characteristics that distinguish affected sites from neighboring unaffected sites.
“If we can isolate the factors that make them different, we should be able to predict where those attacks will happen in the future and we can target our prevention to the highest-risk areas,” he says.
Their analysis, using 133 documented livestock attacks between 1999 and 2006, highlighted three variables that predicted higher risk of wolf attacks: higher percentage of pasture, grassland or hayfield; closer proximity to the nearest wolf pack; and greater distance from forest.
Of the parts of Wisconsin within 100 kilometers of a wolf pack (most of the state, excluding the southern and southeastern-most regions), only one-third of the study area was found to be at risk of wolf attacks on livestock. The highest-risk areas comprise just 10.5 percent, concentrated in the northwest and a few pockets near Lake Superior.
The researchers also verified their model using data from 2007-09 and found that their risk map correctly predicted the vast majority (88 percent) of those incidents.
Treves says it’s a good start to help farmers and resource managers target prevention efforts on those high-risk hotspots, distribute limited resources as efficiently and effectively as possible and, hopefully, reduce livestock attacks.
“Prediction promotes prevention,” he says. “Every single wolf pack in Wisconsin has access to people or pets or livestock,” but with only a handful implicated in attacks each year, “the majority of the wolf population is not causing problems.”
CONTACT: Adrian Treves, email@example.com, 608-890-1450
Jill Sakai | Newswise Science News
One step closer to reality
20.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie
The dark side of cichlid fish: from cannibal to caregiver
20.04.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy