According to a recent study by Washington State University, the killing of predators actually has the opposite effect, it increases the likelihood that the remaining wolves will kill livestock. The study has found that killing wolves disrupts the stability of their social structures and causes more predation. Interestingly, this finding is not just limited to wolves – lethal control of cougars (or mountain lions) also means the remainder kill more cows and sheep as younger, inexperienced cougars are more likely to attack livestock. Coyotes also show increased litter sizes and more frequent breeding in populations were lethally controlled is in place. Despite the strong evidence that changes in livestock husbandry,(i.e. guard dogs and fencing) and that predators don’t kill that much livestock, farmers refuse to change their mind-sets. So it shows that the conflict between predators and livestock is not really about protecting livestock but about cultural fears of the big bad wolf and other so called scary predators.
Karin Eckhard is an international sustainable tourism expert based in Madrid, Spain