Editors' ChoiceConservation

Killing promotes killing

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Science  27 May 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6289, pp. 1072
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6289.1072-a

Legal hunting of protected wolves appears to increase poaching rather than tolerance.


As a way to reduce poaching and promote tolerance of endangered species, some governments have implemented policies allowing the legal killing of large carnivores. Chapron and Treves investigated this controversial idea by studying the relationship between wolf population growth and announcements of legal hunting periods (either for individuals or as government-led culls) in the states of Michigan and Wisconsin. Contrary to the oft-stated argument that legal hunting reduces poaching, they found that population growth declined after both the announcements and the killing events. This suggests that legal killing may actually promote illegal killing, not tolerance.

Proc. R. Soc. London Ser. B, 10.1098/rspb.2015.2939 (2016).

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