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Large carnivores that kill livestock: Do 'problem individuals' really exist?

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... Such contrasting results are also reported for the snow leopard (e.g., Suryawanshi et al., 2013;Bagchi et al., 2020). Though we are unable to explain these discrepancies, they prompt that livestock depredation by snow leopards might actually be affected by a variety of factors, such as individual predator behavior (e.g., Linnell et al., 1999;Johansson et al., 2015) and husbandry practices (e.g., Mijiddorj et al., 2018). Either way, our results suggest that conflicts over livestock depredation by snow leopards would neither be inflicted nor solved by increasing wild prey abundance, reinforcing the need to implement suitable intervention strategies (Jackson et al., 2010). ...
... This finding needs to be considered cautiously as 1) marmots were mapped rather broadly, 2) they occurred in areas with relatively low snow leopard relative abundance, 3) we found no seasonal differences in depredation patterns between areas with and without marmots (see Fig. A1), and 4) our findings could also be affected by other parameters related to marmot habitats affecting snow leopard hunting behavior and shepherd effectiveness, such as terrain-dependent visibility and vegetation characteristics (our information). Nevertheless, our marmot monitoring data closely matched the responses of livestock owners (Fig. A2), and the presence of marmots as an alternative prey may indeed discourage predator attacks and/or specialization on livestock (e.g., Linnell et al., 1999; see also Lowrey et al., 2016), especially in areas devoid of blue sheep. In fact, marmots represent an important, but seasonally available, secondary prey for snow leopards (Oli et al., 1993;Lyngdoh et al., 2014), and the availability of marmots and other small mammals is generally supposed to affect the seasonal dependence of snow leopards on livestock (Lhagvasuren and Munkhtsog, 2002;Bagchi and Mishra, 2006;Aryal et al., 2014b;Lham et al., 2021). ...
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Large carnivores play key roles in their ecosystems, but their protection is a major challenge in biodiversity conservation due to conflicts with human interests. The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is the top predator of Asian high-altitude landscapes and faces various threats including wild prey depletion and illegal killings as a consequence of livestock depredation. As the interactions between snow leopards, wild prey, and livestock are still insufficiently understood, we studied the effects of 1) wild prey (blue sheep Pseudois nayaur and Himalayan marmots Marmota himalayana) and domestic prey on snow leopard relative abundance, and of 2) these ecological parameters and intervention applications on livestock depredation by snow leopards. In the Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal, we monitored wildlife populations and livestock along transects (490.8 km) in 82 grid cells (4 ×4 km) in 2019 and 2021 and conducted questionnaire surveys to determine livestock depredation between 2018 and 2021 (n = 479 households). We applied generalized linear models (GLMs) and sample comparison testing to examine the effects of prey densities and other environmental and anthropogenic predictors on snow leopard relative abundance and livestock depredation. Blue sheep density strongly positively affected snow leopard relative abundance, which also increased with terrain ruggedness and decreased with increasing densities of livestock and the human population. The size of livestock holdings shaped depredation events of large livestock (yak, cattle and horse), whereas depredation events of sheep and goats, which accounted for most (68.6%) depredated animals, decreased with increasing human population density and marmot presence. The strong impact of blue sheep on snow leopard relative abundance supports demands for integrating this ungulate into conservation and management plans, including wild prey recovery and translocation. The rather weak evidence for effects of blue sheep on depredation events suggests that conflicts over livestock depredation by snow leopards would neither be inflicted nor solved by increasing wild prey abundance. This demonstrates the need to improve intervention strategies in the Annapurna region, such as predator-proofing corrals and optimizing daytime herding practices. We suggest further exploring the effects of marmots and other secondary prey on livestock depredation rates, and testing the suitability of additional interventions, e.g., dogs and deterrents, as conflict mitigation tools. Our results will support wildlife managers in setting conservation priorities to promote the long-term co-existence of local people and snow leopards.
... Large carnivores are among the most challenging groups of animals concerning their protection in our modern and crowded world (Chapron et al. 2014). Their conservation in most European countries is dependent upon not only suitable ecological conditions but also the attitudes and actions of local communities and stakeholders, particularly livestock farmers and hunters (Linnell et al. 1999;Berger 2006;Boitani et al. 2015). Large carnivores play an important role in regulating ecosystems (Ripple et al. 2014) but, due to hunting and persecution as well as major habitat changes, large carnivore populations have declined worldwide during the last two centuries and the ranges of many species have contracted and been fragmented (Ceballos and Ehrlich 2002;Laliberte and Ripple 2004). ...
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The grey wolf (Canis lupus) is one of the most challenging species to conserve in our modern and crowded world. Due to various factors, most European wolf populations are currently growing. In Hungary, numbers have increased since the 2000s. Although spontaneous recolonisation from Slovakia is considered to be the most likely mechanism by the majority of experts, some stakeholders claim that hand-reared individuals have been released. To determine the origin of wolves in northern Hungary, we analysed samples of free-ranging wolves collected in Slovakia and Hungary as well as samples from wolves in private enclosures in the region. We also included reference samples from domestic dogs. All samples were genotyped at 14 canine autosomal tetranucleotide microsatellite loci (STR) and analysed using multivariate, Bayesian methods. Hungarian wolf samples were also analysed using kinship methods. In the free-ranging wolf samples, all loci were polymorphic with 3–12 alleles. The overall observed (Ho) and unbiased expected (uHE) heterozygosities were 0.60–0.66 and 0.69–0.71, respectively. Parental and sibling relationships were also found among Hungarian individuals: three generations of a pack in the Bükk Mountains were identified. Samples from free-ranging wolves clustered separately from those of captive wolves and dogs. However, genetic similarities were found between Slovakian and Hungarian wolf samples. Our analyses indicate a Slovakian origin of the sampled Hungarian wolves, and we found no evidence that individuals originating in captivity have played any role in the recolonisation process. Kinship relationships and moderate genetic diversity suggest that there is ongoing gene flow across the Slovakian–Hungarian border.
... Not least domestic livestock are killed for food, particularly sheep (Ciucci and Boitani 1998, Linnell et al. 1996, Mertens and Promberger 2001. Their impact on wild ungulate populations has been investigated over many years, mainly in United States, and it is not very clear (Linnell et al. 1999, Mech 1974, Mech and Karns 1977. ...
Thesis
p>The present study is an effort towards the international and multidisciplinary approach to conservation of European biodiversity. The main aim was to map the distribution of suitable areas for the conservation of bears, lynx and wolves in the Carpathian Mountains. It was done applying a distance classifier, the Mahalanobis distance, over a set of environmental variables representing the region. The results suggested that 41, 58 and 65% of the Carpathian Ecoregion is highly suitable for bear, lynx and wolf, respectively. Considering the three carnivores at once, 20% of the area is highly suitable. Suitable areas are fragmented, but interspersed with areas of less suitability value, without being isolated, and spatially distributed all along the Mountain range. The results were validated with an independent data set and results suggest that the model produced an acceptable estimate of the areas effectively occupied by the carnivores. The comparison between suitability maps obtained with the two independent data sets showed that they were consistent, always reaching values of K-statistics > 0.5. The development of human activities over the land poses problems of how to integrate land exploitation and biodiversity conservation. The outputs of the environmental modelling exercise were used for estimating the distribution of potential conflicts between the presence of carnivores and livestock husbandry practices. Results suggested an effective management would avoid the summer grazing of livestock in carnivore areas and the use of damage prevention measures. The actual effect of currently protected areas in the region was assessed and the need of an increased portion of protected land, particularly in Romania and Ukraine emerged after analysing the proportion of highly suitable areas for large carnivores under any kind of legal protection.</p
... Predator removal actions, like culling, have further relied on the assumptions that all individuals within the predator population are equally likely to impact the prey population and that those individual predators who visit more frequently will consume more prey 9 . This study presents evidence of individual variability in predator foraging success that challenges these assumptions. ...
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The complexities of trophic dynamics complicate the management of predator populations. Targeted culling campaigns are one management strategy meant to control predation for the benefit of the prey population. In these campaigns, individual predators are often considered “rogue” based on visitation rates to the site of concern. This definition assumes that all predators impact prey equally. However, individual variability in foraging success may compromise this assumption. To examine this hypothesis, we studied harbor seals preying on adult salmonids during the 2014–2019 fall runs in Whatcom Creek, Bellingham, Washington, USA, and recorded visitation rate and foraging success of individual seals from photographs and field observations. We then used Generalized Linear Mixed-Effects Models to model individual foraging success. Models including harbor seal identity better explained foraging success than models based on visitation rate alone. We concluded that considering intraspecific variability and classifying “rogue individuals” based on foraging success is a more accurate protocol for managing predator populations than relying solely on visitation rate of the predators.
... This complexity arises from several factors. First, large carnivores require extensive territories, which often results in overlap with areas used by humans, and subsequently, various forms of human-wildlife conflict arise, with potential for severe economic losses or even human injuries or deaths (Linnell et al. 1999;Treves and Naughton-Treves 1999;Carter and Linnell 2016;Morehouse and Boyce 2017;Van Eeden et al. 2018;Bombieri et al. 2019Bombieri et al. , 2021. Second, there are often divergent societal views on how to best resolve subsequent human-wildlife conflicts due to different values associated with carnivores (López-Bao et al. 2017a, b;Swan et al. 2017;Lute et al. 2018;Salvatori et al. 2020;Marino et al. 2021). ...
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Achieving coexistence between humans and large carnivores in human-shaped landscapes is a complex challenge. Addressing this challenge requires the revaluation of the approaches academia uses to foster carnivore conservation and human-large carnivore coexistence. In this forum paper, we provide a brief overview of the three archetypical approaches of knowledge generation for large carnivore conservation in human dominated landscapes (disciplinary, interdisciplinary and emerging transdisciplinary approaches) and highlight the need for more explicit consideration of transdisciplinarity in large carnivore conservation funding. We refer to transdisciplinary deficit (TDD) for those situations when the context allows the implementation of transdisciplinarity but research and practice remains disciplinary or interdisciplinary. We identify drivers of this TDD and provide a brief overview of current and past conservation funding programmes at the European level in terms of their capacity to promote transdisciplinary approaches for large carnivore conservation. We show that current funding programmes favour sectorial and disciplinary approaches, resulting in low transdisciplinary substance in large carnivore conservation projects. TDD can be overcome by transforming the character of public funding towards multi-stakeholder collaboration, designing and nurturing effective communities of practice, and reducing co-financing rates for large, integrated projects.
... In contrast, livestock depredation by coyotes (Canis latrans) is biased to 1467 males during breeding season, due to large body size (Blejwas et al. 2006). Sex of carnivores, 1468 including brown and black bears (U. americanus), cougars (Puma concolor), and lions 1469 (Panthera leo), shot of trapped for depredation control is skewed to male, which in turn, 1470 produces sex biased conflict (Linnell et al. 1999 Social transmission of information that cicada nymphs are abundant in the plantations from 1491 mother bear to their cubs might facilitate the use of plantation as foraging habitats by bears in 1492 the study area. Thus, social learning from mother to cubs may contribute to transmission of 1493 foraging behavior for coping with anthropogenic habitat within brown bear population facing to 1494 human-induced rapid environmental change. ...
... We observed high variation in calf predation rates between bear individuals (Table S5). This corroborates that some bears are likely 'specialists', or more efficient at hunting reindeer calves than others (Linnell et al., 1999), which appears to be a common phenomenon across systems. For example, Brockman et al. (2017) found that some bears killed more than 30 calves during a season, while others killed few. ...
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The recovery and conservation of large carnivores can negatively impact the economy of traditional pastoralist societies, including indigenous reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) herding communities. Quantifying the magnitude of predation on livestock is critical to evaluating governmental carnivore compensation schemes. We collaborated with two Sámi herding communities in northern Sweden (2010-2012) to examine brown bear (Ursus arctos) predation patterns on semi-domesticated reindeer and quantify the economic impact of bear predation. Predation patterns were estimated by following 21 GPS proximity-collared bears and ~2500 transmitter-collared female reindeer during calving season. We calculated economic impact by multiplying the monetary value of reindeer by the expected number lost to bears. On average, bears killed 10.2 [8.6, 11.5] calves per bear, accounting for 39%-62% of all calf mortality, while few adult reindeer were killed. Bear kill rates increased with time spent in the calving area, and varied widely by individual and reproductive status, e.g., females with cubs-of-the-year did not kill calves. Kill intervals increased over the parturition season, and were larger for sub-adults than adults. The mean reindeer calf predation rate was 16% to 27%, which resulted in an annual loss between ~€50,000 and ~€62,000 per herding group. Current compensation schemes for herding communities in Sweden are calculated as a fixed rate based on herding community land-area. The herding groups in our study were reimbursed for ~2% of realized monetary loss. Compensation schemes based on herding community area, rather than realized predation patterns, may be less effective at mitigating the economic impact of living with large carnivores.
... Moreover, the observer of an attack on domestic animals usually describes several kills and blood spread. The "surplus kill" (Linnell et al. 1999) is a characteristic of some predators which negatively impresses humans who say that these animals "kill but they do not necessarily eat". This is not well accepted and it exacerbates the image of predators as unsatisfied creatures which kill for pleasure and can always cause more damage due to greediness. ...
... Numerous intervention strategies have been implemented across the globe to protect livestock from predators like snow leopards (Krafte Holland et al. 2018;Khorozyan and Waltert 2021), and positive effects have been observed following the improvement of livestock pens (Jamwal et al. 2019;Samelius et al. 2020). Feasibility and effectiveness of intervention strategies are potentially reduced by financial constraints (Gehring et al. 2010;Lance et al. 2010), landscape characteristics (Faccioni et al. 2015), predator habituation , and individual behaviour patterns (Linnell et al. 1999). Therefore, interventions require local context-specific applications that are feasible, practical, and accounting for cultural values and environmental conditions (van Eeden et al. 2018b). ...
Article
Context. Large carnivores are increasingly threatened by anthropogenic activities, and their protection is among the main goals of biodiversity conservation. The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) inhabits high-mountain landscapes where livestock depredation drives it into conflicts with local people and poses an obstacle for its conservation. Aims. The aim of this study was to identify the livestock groups most vulnerable to depredation, target them in implementation of practical interventions, and assess the effectiveness of intervention strategies for conflict mitigation. We present a novel attempt to evaluate intervention strategies for particularly vulnerable species, age groups, time, and seasons. Methods. In 2020, we conducted questionnaire surveys in two regions of the Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal (Manang, n = 146 respondents and Upper Mustang, n = 183). We applied sample comparison testing, Jacobs’ selectivity index, and generalised linear models (GLMs) to assess rates and spatio-temporal heterogeneity of depredation, reveal vulnerable livestock groups, analyse potential effects of applied intervention strategies, and identify husbandry factors relevant to depredation. Key results. Snow leopard predation was a major cause of livestock mortality in both regions (25.4–39.8%), resulting in an estimated annual loss of 3.2–3.6% of all livestock. The main intervention strategies (e.g. corrals during night-time and herding during daytime) were applied inconsistently and not associated with decreases in reported livestock losses. In contrast, we found some evidence that dogs, deterrents (light, music playing, flapping tape, and dung burning), and the use of multiple interventions were associated with a reduction in reported night-time depredation of yaks. Conclusions and implications. We suggest conducting controlled randomised experiments for quantitative assessment of the effectiveness of dogs, deterrents, and the use of multiple interventions, and widely applying the most effective ones in local communities. This would benefit the long-term co-existence of snow leopards and humans in the Annapurna region and beyond.
Thesis
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