To manage carnivores and livestock, focus on ecology

When carnivores prey on livestock, managers have to navigate so many economic and cultural factors, it can be easy to forget that at the heart of it, an ecological dynamic is at play. Resolving these conflicts, then, may mean taking a closer look at the ecological forces behind them. “Despite all of the complex sociocultural and political factors that are important for solving the conflict, if you look down at the base of the issue, it’s actually predation,” said TWS member Christine Wilkinson, a PhD candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, and lead author of a recent study on the topic published in Conservation Biology. Wilkinson and her colleagues had been working around the world with people who deal with carnivore-livestock conflict, such as herders in Kenya and ranchers in California’s Mendocino County, and they wanted to provide them something tangible to determine the best way to deal with nearby predators. In the study, her team built a framework to decide the best intervention measures in different contexts based on carnivore and livestock ecology and behavior, as well as how the surrounding biophysical landscape affects risk of predation. “The hope is that practitioners can use the framework to understand … Continue reading To manage carnivores and livestock, focus on ecology