New predation management methods reduce conflict between humans and carnivores

Tools allow better management of the human--predator--livestock relationship

Effective management of predation on livestock is essential to the conservation of large carnivores, because conflicts with human interests can be fatal to individual predators and may lead to the decline of populations of wolves, lions, leopards, cheetahs, coyotes, and spotted hyenas. New tools allow better management of the edges where carnivores, people, and livestock intersect, according to an article in the March 2006 issue of BioScience, the monthly journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

The article, by John A. Shivik of the US Department of Agriculture's National Wildlife Research Center, describes a variety of techniques now being used to minimize predation, ranging from ancient (for example, fladry, colored flags that can repel wolves) to modern (for example, electronic warning systems).

Some devices work by simply frightening predators away from livestock. In this category are fladry and a device that flashes lights and sounds a siren when it detects predators. Guard dogs have also made a comeback in recent years in the United States. Other techniques modify behavior through conditioning. In this category are fladry with electrically charged wires ("turbo fladry"), paintball-type weapons that use rounds filled with capsicum powder, and guns that fire rubber bullets. Tagging of predators with radio collars that activate protection devices can improve the effectiveness of some methods.

No one device works well over the long term, however, and Shivik points out that the complex psychological relationship between human populations and predators must be taken into account if conflict is to be minimized.

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BioScience publishes commentary and peer-reviewed articles covering a wide range of biological fields, with a focus on "Organisms from Molecules to the Environment." The journal has been published since 1964. AIBS is an umbrella organization for professional scientific societies and organizations that are involved with biology. It represents some 200 member societies and organizations with a combined membership of about 250,000.

The complete list of research articles in the March 2006 issue of BioScience is as follows:

Special Section on Organisms as Ecosystem Engineers
The Concept of Organisms as Ecosystem Engineers Ten Years On: Progress, Limitations, and Challenges.Justin P. Wright and Clive G. Jones
Ecosystem Engineering across Environmental Gradients: Implications for Conservation and Management.Caitlin Mullan Crain and Mark D. Bertness
Vascular Plants as Engineers of Oxygen in Aquatic Systems. Nina Caraco and colleagues
Physical Ecosystem Engineers as Agents of Biogeochemical Heterogeneity. Jorge L. Gutierrez and Clive G. Jones
Animal Ecosystem Engineers in Streams. Jonathan W. Moore
Media Coverage of "Intelligent Design." Jason Rosenhouse and Glenn Branch
Tools for the Edge: What's New for Conserving Carnivores. John A. Shivik


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