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Livestock risks from Wisconsin wolves localized, predictable

[large thumbnail url=”livestock-risks-from-wisconsin-wolves-localized-predictable” filename=”science” year=”2011″ month=”06″ day=”02″] [thumbnail icon url=”livestock-risks-from-wisconsin-wolves-localized-predictable” filename=”science” year=”2011″ month=”06″ day=”02″] It’s an issue that crops up wherever humans and big predators — wolves, bears, lions — coexist.

“It’s just hard to live alongside large carnivores. They damage crops, they kill livestock and pets, they threaten people’s safety,” says University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Adrian Treves. And the sheer presence of a wolf nearby has typically been enough to make farmers fear for their animals, he adds. “Wherever there were carnivores, people thought there was risk.”

A map showing the predicted risks of grey wolf attacks on livestock in parts of Wisconsin located within 100 kilometers of known wolf packs. The highest-risk regions, shown in red, comprise just 10 percent of the area within wolf ranges and are concentrated in northwestern parts of the state and near Lake Superior. “The ability to predict potential attacks will help target prevention and management efforts with the goal of reducing conflicts between people and wolves”, says UW–Madison environmental studies professor Adrian Treves.

But Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs notwithstanding, not all wolves are big and bad. Even as Wisconsin’s wolf population grows, intensifying the potential for conflicts with people, Treves’ research is revealing that one of the most visible types of conflict — attacks on livestock — is highly localized and may be predictable.

Treves, head of the Carnivore Coexistence Laboratory in the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, works in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to understand and mediate human-carnivore conflicts with an eye toward reducing the threat to both people and animals…

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