Coexistence of large carnivores and humans is a formidable challenge for conservationists world-wide (Treves & Karanth 2003). Carnivores cause economical and emotional losses due to, for instance, livestock depredation. Carnivores can be perceived as competitors for game and as a threat to human life, perceptions deeply anchored in human history and culture (Dickman 2010).
At the same time, large carnivores are key species for ecosystem functioning and among the most admired animals (Ripple et al. 2014). This paradox often leads to deep societal conflicts between people that suffer losses and those aiming to conserve large predators (Young et al. 2010). Commonly, the mitigation of conflicts arising from damage to human property is addressed with compensation schemes to offset losses (Nyhus et al. 2005).
A recent research by Bautista et al (2016) investigated the Patterns and correlates of claims for brown bear damage on a continental scale. There were three interesting findings in the report which are worth sharing here.
Supplementary feeding as a management measure showed a variable effect across the evaluated cases. Claims were simply less frequent in units with supplementary feeding. Countries, which lack of compensation systems, but have a history of coexistence with large predators, have less damage claims. These countries are typically situated in Central and Eastern Europe. This finding highlights the importance of learning how to co-exist with large carnivores and what preventive measures we can make.
Human land use was also important to explain the number of damage claims. Clearly, there were fewer claims for damage caused by bears living in areas with high agricultural cover. A straightforward explanation of this result is that areas with high land-use intensity are less frequented by bears (Fernandez et al. 2012) and, thus, are less susceptible to damage. In human-dominated landscapes, losses due to predation on livestock are more likely in areas with fewer people.
Finally the researchers found no evidence of association between the number of damage claims and the number of bears. Therefore hunting as a management measure is not a logical choice of preventing damages.