In DepthWildlife Biology

No proof that predator culls save livestock, study claims

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Science  09 Sep 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6304, pp. 1080-1081
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6304.1080

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The logic of predator control seems airtight: Remove livestock-killing wolves, coyotes, bears, and other predators, and you'll protect farmers and ranchers from future losses. As a result, officials kill thousands of animals, including hundreds of wolves, in the United States each year. But there are reasons to doubt that common sense notion. Some research suggests that coyote populations subject to culling have higher pup survival rates, and that male cougars expand their ranges in response to hunting. A new study now finds that much of the evidence supporting lethal control is flawed. Examining more than 100 peer-reviewed studies of predator control, the study found not a single lethal control study that met scientists' gold standard: a randomized, controlled design.

  • * Ben Goldfarb is a freelance writer in New Haven, Connecticut.