ArticlePDF Available

The virtuous circle: predator-friendly farming and ecological restoration in Australia

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

In Australia, dingoes are widely regarded as enemies of livestock, and accordingly livestock producers commonly attempt to reduce or eradicate them by lethal control. This can have two forms of perverse outcomes: lethal control often does not succeed in reducing dingo populations and can even result in increased attacks on livestock; and the environmental benefits provided by dingoes, some of which are valuable to livestock production, are lost. We describe these outcomes and suggest mechanisms by which tolerance of dingoes could provide benefits to livestock enterprises, at the same time widening the scope of ecological restoration, and humane treatment of wildlife in Australia.
Content may be subject to copyright.
OPINION ARTICLE
The virtuous circle: predator-friendly farming
and ecological restoration in Australia
Chris N. Johnson1, Arian D. Wallach2,3
In Australia, dingoes are widely regarded as enemies of livestock, and accordingly livestock producers commonly attempt to
reduce or eradicate them by lethal control. This can have two forms of perverse outcomes: lethal control often does not succeed
in reducing dingo populations and can even result in increased attacks on livestock; and the environmental benets provided
by dingoes, some of which are valuable to livestock production, are lost. We describe these outcomes and suggest mechanisms
by which tolerance of dingoes could provide benets to livestock enterprises, at the same time widening the scope of ecological
restoration, and humane treatment of wildlife in Australia.
Key words: Canis dingo, human-wildlife conict, livestock protection, predation, trophic cascades
Implications for Practice
Protection of dingoes, Australia’s apex predator, has the
potential to be a powerful tool in ecological restoration,
but is stied in large part due to the view that they are a
threat to livestock production.
Lethal control of dingoes is common but often fails to
benet livestock, because it does not consistently reduce
dingo populations or livestock predation, and because it
can drive land degradation and reduce forage availability
for livestock.
Predator-friendly farming is a growing practice worldwide
that can improve the sustainability, protability, and social
acceptability of livestock production.
Promoting the transition to nonlethal standards in Aus-
tralian grazing enterprises could support ecological
restoration goals and wild animal welfare on a vast scale.
The Dingo in Australian Ecology
The dingo (Canis dingo) is the largest predator in the terres-
trial ecosystems of mainland Australia, and as apex predator,
it helps maintain the diversity of Australia’s wildlife. It does
this by suppressing population sizes and modifying the behav-
ior of mesopredators and of medium to large wild herbivores.
This top-down control reduces total predation pressure on many
species of small terrestrial vertebrates, and reduces grazing pres-
sure thereby promoting vegetation diversity and biomass. Sev-
eral large-scale studies, many of which have been conducted in
rangelands, have shown that the presence of dingoes reduces the
abundance of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), feral cats (Felis catus),
and large wild herbivores (e.g. kangaroos Macropus spp.), and
affects their spatial and temporal activity patterns. In response,
the diversity and abundance of small and medium-sized native
mammals are greater, and vegetation cover and complexity
are higher, where dingoes are abundant (Wallach et al. 2010;
Brawata & Neeman 2011; Brook et al. 2012; Letnic et al. 2012;
Colman et al. 2014; Johnson 2015).
These studies hold out the promise that protection of din-
goes could be a powerful tool in restoring the diversity and
functions of Australian ecosystems that have been degraded by
high mesopredator predation and wild herbivore grazing pres-
sure (Newsome et al. 2015). However, this promise is mostly
unfullled, because of the widespread view that the dingo is a
threat to livestock. That view is encoded in legislation of most
State and Territory governments which requires the destruction
of “wild dogs,” except in some National Parks where the same
animals are referred to as dingoes and given some legal protec-
tion (Fleming et al. 2014). Across most of the continent, din-
goes remain subject to varying levels of lethal control, typically
by poison baiting, reinforced in some areas by barrier fencing.
Attempts to extirpate dingoes often are not effective but can
cause signicant reduction in abundance, demographic shifts,
and disruption of dingo populations over large areas, with loss
of ecological function (Wallach et al. 2009, 2010).
One of the biggest challenges for ecological management in
Australia is nding ways to restore biodiversity and maintain
resilience in ecosystems outside conservation reserves. Most
such areas are used for livestock grazing, which is the pre-
dominant land use over the vast rangelands and savannas of
inland Australia. Relaxing lethal control of dingoes could be an
important step in accomplishing ecological restoration in those
Author contributions: CNJ, ADW conceived and wrote the manuscript.
1School of Biological Sciences, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 55, Hobart,
Tasmania 7001, Australia
2Centre for Compassionate Conservation, School of Life Sciences, University of
Technology Sydney, P.O. Box 123 Broadway, Ultimo, NSW 2007, Australia
3Address correspondence to A. D. Wallach, email arian.wallach@uts.edu.au
© 2016 Society for Ecological Restoration
doi: 10.1111/rec.12396
Restoration Ecology 1
Predator-friendly farming in Australia
environments. But for this to happen, we rst need to nd some
form of reconciliation between livestock producers and dingoes
that will allow them to coexist.
In this article, we suggest that acceptance of dingoes in pro-
duction landscapes could improve the viability, protability, and
social acceptability of livestock production. After introducing
the concept of “predator-friendly farming”, we focus on beef
cattle production, where large property and livestock sizes lend
themselves to coexistence with dingoes requiring few changes
to management practices. Then, we explain strategies for coex-
istence in production landscapes that require more active strate-
gies to reduce predation on more vulnerable livestock, such as
sheep. We highlight the ways in which predator-friendly farm-
ing could improve the economic health of livestock businesses
by meeting a rapidly rising social demand for improved sustain-
ability and animal welfare in animal production systems. On this
basis, we propose that the goals of livestock production and eco-
logical restoration using dingoes, currently viewed as being in
conict, could be made to converge.
Predator-friendly Farming
Predator friendly farming is a global movement in farm-
ing (or “ranching”) practice in which large predators are
allowed and encouraged to persist in production landscapes.
Predator-friendly farming involving dingoes could provide
three distinct types of benets: rst, it preserves the ecological
roles and value to conservation provided by dingoes (Letnic
et al. 2012); second, it may provide solutions to predation
management that are more economical than lethal control,
as suggested by studies worldwide (Allen 2014; Wielgus &
Peebles 2014; McManus et al. 2015); and third, it meets an
increasing social demand for humane nonlethal methods of
resolving conict with wild animals (Fitzgerald 2009).
Predator-friendly farmingemploying nonlethal control of
predationhas a deep history in many parts of the world, and
some farmers are now successfully pioneering these approaches
in Australia. Australian predator-friendly farming includes the
full gamut of livestock, from the largest (cattle and buffalo)
to the smallest and most vulnerable (sheep and free-ranging
poultry), and encompassing a wide range of property sizes.
Each predator-friendly farm, depending on its size, habitat,
and livestock breed, employs different nonlethal approaches to
reduce predation (Fig. 1).
Predator-friendly farmers often experience reduced predation
rates due to both improved livestock condition and more socially
stable predator populations. Dingoes, like other apex preda-
tors, limit their own densities through social interactions that
restrict breeding to a single female per social group, which act
cooperatively to hunt and hold stable territories (Wallach et al.
2015). When individual dingoes are killed, population sizes can
increase due to the breakdown of territorial boundaries (Wallach
et al. 2009), leading to higher predation rates on livestock (Allen
2014). Predator-friendly farming avoids disrupting the dingo’s
(A) (C)
(B) (D)
Figure 1. Predator-friendly farming is growing across Australia. (A) Large livestock on large landholdings, such as beef cattle on 1,000’s of square km
stations, reduce conict by enabling dingo packs to stabilize and by supporting healthier cows that are better able to defend their calves (Photograph: G.
Schuirmann). (B) Smaller farms employ protective strategies, including guardian dogs, even if the livestock species is large, such as dairy cows and buffalo,
because lethal control on neighboring farms continues to disrupt the dingo’s social structure (Photograph: E. Swegen). (C) Technological innovations in
nonlethal methods for protecting livestock from predators have been developed in Australia and used worldwide, such as “Foxlights” (www.foxlights.com;
Photograph: Ian Whalan). (D) Vulnerable stock, such as chickens, are successfully protected with guardian dogs and enclosures (Photograph: L. van
Bommel).
2Restoration Ecology
Predator-friendly farming in Australia
social groups, and focuses instead on husbandry practices that
safeguard and promote livestock health.
Dingo-Friendly Cattle Production
Much of Australia’s rangelands are used for beef cattle produc-
tion, providing conditions in which the livestock (>300 kg) are
signicantly larger than their predators (20– 25kg), and proper-
ties (typically thousands of square kilometers) are much larger
than the predator’s territories (typically 50– 100 km2(Thomson
1992)). These systems lend themselves to coexistence between
livestock and predators with minor or even no management
changes aside from ending lethal control. The larger size of cat-
tle provides a defense against predation, and the larger property
sizes can provide space for dingoes to establish stable packs.
The most common negative impact of dingoes on cattle is
predation of calves. However, the magnitude of this impact
is highly variable. On large properties with low intensity of
management of herds, calf losses are difcult or impossible
to quantify, but rates of up to 30% per year killed by dingoes
have been reported (Allen 2014; Fleming et al. 2014). However,
losses are often much lower than this, and they vary greatly from
place to place and through time, being undetectable in some
years on properties that at other times experience high rates of
predation (Eldridge et al. 2002).
Probably, the main reason that losses are often low is that
cows are able to defend their calves against dingoes (Fig. 1A).
Antipredator behavior by cows has several components, includ-
ing being vigilant against predators; remaining close to their calf
when it is at risk; standing between the calf and an approaching
predator; and displaying intimidating behavior including low-
ering the head, bellowing, and charging at close range (Flörcke
et al. 2012). Like other domesticated animals, cattle generally
display reduced antipredator behavior compared with their wild
relatives (Flörcke & Grandin 2013), and the expression of such
behavior varies strongly among individuals and breeds (Flör-
cke et al. 2012). Nonetheless, because dingoes are much smaller
than cows, the antipredator behaviors expressed by cows are
often sufcient to protect their calves from attack.
The exceptions to this could be when the cow’s ability to pro-
tect her calf is compromised, or when their attackers are particu-
larly determined. Cows in good physical condition are probably
better able to defend their calves, and they should be better able
to reduce feeding as needed to maintain vigilance (Kluever et al.
2008). In areas with high availability of vegetation and water,
cows are able to remain closer to their calves because they have
less need to walk long distances to graze and drink. On the other
hand, dingoes are presumably least likely to attack calves when
they have alternative and less risky prey available. It follows that
both the capacity of cows to ward off attacks, and the propensity
of dingoes to mount attacks on calves, are likely to be strongly
inuenced by environmental factors. Therefore, impacts of pre-
dation should be lower under good seasonal conditions, as has
been observed in some studies (Eldridge et al. 2002).
The major environmental challenge for sustainability of cat-
tle production in Australia’s rangelands and savanna ecosystems
is variability in environmental conditions, due primarily to uc-
tuations in rainfall. Two large experiments, the EcoGraze trial
(Ash et al. 2011) and the Wambiana Grazing Trial (O’Reagain &
Bushell 2015), have investigated the effects of contrasting stock-
ing strategies on long-term economic returns under high inter-
annual variability in rainfall. Both studies found that economic
returns and environmental condition were simultaneously max-
imized by a conservative strategy of holding stocking rates at
modest and constant levels, even during years of above-average
rainfall when pasture biomass could accommodate increased
stocking density. They also demonstrated benets from “rest-
ing” of pastures to allow recovery from grazing during wet sea-
sons. The reason that this conservative approach is economically
successful is that by limiting utilization of pasture it preserves
pasture biomass and maintains productivity, even during poor
seasons.
Dingoes could support this strategy of conservative stocking.
Predation by dingoes holds populations of kangaroos and other
wild herbivores well below densities they would otherwise
reach (Pople et al. 2000; Letnic et al. 2009; Wallach et al. 2010;
Letnic & Crowther 2013) and therefore provides a control on
pasture utilization by wild-herbivore populations. Dingoes also
prevent large uctuations in populations of wild herbivores
(Pople et al. 2000; Letnic & Crowther 2013), thus tending to
stabilize pasture biomass. Pasture not eaten by wild herbivores,
such as kangaroos and feral goats (Capra hircus), is potentially
available to cattle. Two recent modeling studies in the semiarid
rangelands suggest that this can offset the direct costs of attacks
by dingoes on calves, particularly when stocking rates are at
low or moderate levels (Wicks et al. 2014; Prowse et al. 2015).
To the same extent that dingoes make more pasture available
to cattle, they also allow managers to maintain a high biomass
of unutilized pasture by controlling total grazing pressure. Thus
dingoes help conservative livestock managers succeed in their
aim of keeping their pastures in good condition.
A key feature of conservative stocking is that it maintains
higher and more consistent weight gain of cattle through good
and poor seasons, compensating for lower average densities of
stock by increasing the market value of each animal (Purvis
1986). In other words, conservative stocking produces animals
that maintain consistently better physical condition than is the
case for the alternative strategies of high or variable stocking.
As argued above, cows in good condition are better able to
prevent attacks on their calves by dingoes. We therefore predict
that one of the benets of conservative stocking of cattle will
be a reduction in losses of calves to dingoes. Dingoes that are
prevented from preying on calves will maintain even tighter
control on populations of wild herbivores, further strengthening
control on pasture utilization. That is, we suggest that the
relationships between tolerance of dingoes and conservative
stocking are probably reciprocal and reinforcing. Research
is needed to test relationships between grazing management,
condition and behavior of cows, and susceptibility of calves to
predation by dingoes.
Livestock graziers who manage grazing pressure in order
to maintain consistently good pasture condition are also,
perhaps incidentally, improving habitat for wildlife. In the
Restoration Ecology 3
Predator-friendly farming in Australia
semiarid rangelands and tropical savannas of Australia,
there are well-documented positive relationships between
ground-vegetation cover and the abundance and diversity of
small vertebrates (Kutt & Gordon 2012). To the extent that
graziers who manage for pasture cover enlist dingoes to help
them maintain pasture condition, dingoes facilitate increases
in abundance and diversity of small mammals, reptiles, and
ground-nesting and ground-foraging birds. Dingoes do prey
on such animals, but with lower impacts than for larger prey
(Letnic et al. 2012; Johnson 2015). At the same time, the pres-
ence of dingoes is likely to reduce the much greater impacts of
predation by red foxes and feral cats, which can reduce the per-
sistence of many such species in the rangelands and savannas
(Johnson 2006; Fisher et al. 2014). It should be possible to aim
for sustainable and economically viable cattle production in
habitats that support diverse and abundant wildlife in Australia’s
extensive cattle-grazing systems. Acceptance of dingoes could
be a key element in the processes that create these outcomes.
Dingo-Friendly Farming with Vulnerable Livestock
Predator-Friendly Farming
In extensive cattle-grazing enterprises, it is quite possible that
predator-friendly systems can succeed even when no special
management is undertaken to reduce predation by dingoes on
livestock. However, this is less likely to be the case for smaller
livestock, especially sheep and goats, which are vulnerable to
dingoes at all life stages. Smaller farms that are surrounded
by lethal predator control activities that continue to disrupt the
dingo’s social structure are also likely to require more intensive
protection (Fig. 1B). In these cases, active husbandry practices
that protect livestock from dingoes are needed.
There are many effective nonlethal methods, ranging from
renements of animal husbandry practices, to use of livestock
protection animals (van Bommel & Johnson 2014). Livestock
guardian dogs are especially effective in separating dingoes (and
roaming dogs) from ocks of sheep, and also work well with
all other species of livestock if properly trained and prepared
(van Bommel 2010; van Bommel & Johnson 2012, 2014, 2015)
(Fig. 1D). Humans also operate effectively as guardians of
livestock. In North America, “range riders” watch over herds
and monitor the movement of predators with tracking and
radio-collaring. Livestock are also provided with additional
protection during vulnerable life stages, such as lambing, by
corralling and in some cases with the reinforcement of deterrents
such as ashing lights (van Bommel & Johnson 2014) (Fig. 1C).
Overall, predator-friendly farming is premised on shifting away
from trying to control wild predators and toward protecting and
improving care for livestock.
Transitioning to Predator-Friendly Farming
Establishing predator-friendly farming as a mainstream prac-
tice is a major challenge, evident by the ongoing persecution
of dingoes across Australia (Wallach et al. 2010), and the con-
tinued decline of large predators worldwide (Ripple et al. 2014).
Figure 2. Examples of predator-friendly certications: from left to right
Fair Game (brand of the Landmark Foundation), Predator Friendly®and
Wildlife Friendly®(brands of the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network).
Transitioning to coexistence with large predators requires major
policy, technical, economic, legal, and cultural changes. Ulti-
mately, this is a human social problem, and as such all members
of society have a role to play in its solution. Farmers currently
remain under intense social and even legal pressure from neigh-
boring farms and local governments to continue killing dingoes.
As a rst step, farmers should be provided with better support to
change practices on the ground. We highlight four pathways that
can help ease the establishment of predator-friendly farming in
Australia.
Certification Schemes
Elsewhere in the world, social pressure in favor of humane
treatment of large predators has resulted in several schemes
for certication of farm products as predator-friendly.
Examples are the South African “Fair Game” accredita-
tion and the U.S.-based Predator Friendly®and Wildlife
Friendly®labels that apply to both farmers and manu-
facturers worldwide (Fig. 2). Recently, Stella McCartney
Inc., became the rst global fashion brand to be certied
Wildlife Friendly (http://www.stellamccartney.com/experience/
en/partner/wildlife-friendly-enterprise-network/). These certi-
cation systems have yet to establish in Australia, but these
or similar labels could be used to link Australian farmers with
local consumers and international manufacturers willing to
apply these standards to their choice of goods. In the future,
certication could provide access to premium markets.
Educational Support
Extension resources have been made widely available to sup-
port killing dingoes. Similar efforts could be diverted toward
nonlethal alternatives. Tried and tested methods for nonlethal
protection of livestock, from traditional herding techniques
to modern technologies, are available for the full range of
livestock, predator species, and farm conditions. Local gov-
ernments, academics, private consultancies, and NGOs could
provide much needed educational support in the form of work-
shops, brochures, websites and manuals (van Bommel 2010),
and personalized services.
Social Connection
While predator-unfriendly producers remain in the majority,
the intense social pressure to conform to the standard lethal
4Restoration Ecology
Predator-friendly farming in Australia
practice will constitute a barrier to adoption of predator-friendly
production by the rst few farmers. There is immense poten-
tial to harness the rapidly growing use of social media and
other communication platforms to link predator-friendly
farmers as a social network (e.g. Predator Friendly Network
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1714422825442170/). This
network can provide motivation, social inclusion, empower-
ment, and a space to share professional and personal experiences
working on predator-friendly farms.
Research
Investment in methods to reduce livestock losses to predators
has been channeled almost entirely into lethal control, despite
a lack of evidence to support its efcacy. As a rst step, some
of these resources could be diverted into establishing long-term
and large-scale studies that test the efcacy of predator-friendly
methods. There are many predator-friendly solutions including
fencing, repellents, deterrents, stock management, and guardian
animals (van Bommel & Johnson 2014), but to date research on
their applicability remains limited. There is also a need to better
understand the circumstances that affect predation rates on
livestock, including predator social stability, habitat, livestock
breed, husbandry practices, and environmental conditions. In
particular, it is currently not known how livestock mortality due
to predators compares to other preventable causes of death, such
as those related to husbandry practices.
A Predator-Friendly Future
Transitioning to predator-friendly production is likely to gain
increasing momentum because it links two strongly supported
social values: animal welfare and biodiversity conservation
(Treves & Bruskotter 2014; Ramp & Bekoff 2015; Lute et al.
2016). Although most attention on animal production has so far
focused on the humane treatment of livestock, there is growing
recognition that much animal production also involves killing
of wild animals, and this killing often entails a high degree
of suffering. The extensive use of poisons, such as sodium
uoroacetate (1080), has been criticized because of inhumane
impacts on target animals, and unintended but signicant harms
to nontarget animals (Sherley 2007; Marks 2013). The practice
of killing predators is becoming evermore controversial as
social media and other communication platforms bring farming
practices into broader public awareness. For example, a planned
dingo killing competition in the Queensland town of Blackall in
late 2015 was canceled due to online protest (http://www.queens
landcountrylife.com.au/story/3406252/activists-cull-wild-dog-
competition/).
Concurrently, there is signicant demand for wide-reaching
actions that will provide effective solutions to stem the decline
and extinction of species across Australia. The understanding
that dingoes play signicant ecological roles, upon which many
threatened species and ecological services depend, is therefore
attracting wide public interest. Although much has been lost,
much of Australia’s production landscapes still retain extraor-
dinary fauna and ora diversity across vast open regions. These
landscapes can provide ourishing spaces for wildlife and for
people simultaneously. The prospect of ending a 200-year war
on Australia’s apex predator is both simple and revolutionary.
Acknowledgments
We thank T. Lefroy and B. Richardson for organizing the
November 2015 Restoration Dialogues conference, University
of Tasmania, from which this work arose. Travel by A. W.
was supported by the Centre for Environment, University of
Tasmania. C.J. thanks Bob Purvis for enlightening discussions
on managing the coexistence of dingoes with beef cattle.
LITERATURE CITED
Allen LR (2014) Wild dog control impacts on calf wastage in extensivebeef cattle
enterprises. Animal Production Science 54:214– 220
Ash AJ, Coreld JP, Mcivor JG, Ksiksi TS (2011) Grazing management in
tropical savannas: utilization and rest strategies to manipulate rangeland
condition. Rangeland Ecology & Management 64:223– 239
Brawata RL, Neeman T (2011) Is water the key? Dingo management, intraguild
interactions and predator distribution around water points in arid Australia.
Wildlife Research 38:426– 436
Brook LA, Johnson CN, Ritchie EG (2012) Effects of predator control on
behaviour of an apex predator and indirect consequences for mesopredator
suppression. Journal of Applied Ecology 49:1278– 1286
Colman NJ, Gordon CE, Crowther MS, Letnic M (2014) Lethal control of an apex
predator has unintended cascading effects on forest mammal assemblages.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281:20133094
Eldridge SR, Shakeshaft BJ, Nano TJ (2002) The impact of wild dog control on
cattle, native and introduced herbivores and introduced predators in central
Australia: Final report to the Bureau of Rural Sciences. Parks and Wildlife
Commission of the Northern Territory, Alice Springs
Fisher DO, Johnson CN, Lawes MJ, Fritz SA, Mccallum H, Blomberg SP, et al.
(2014) The current decline of tropical marsupials in Australia: is history
repeating? Global Ecology and Biogeography 23:181– 190
Fitzgerald G (2009) Public attitudes to current and proposed forms of pest
animal control. A summary and review of the Australasian and selected
international research. Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre,
University of Cranberra, Cranberra, Australia
Fleming PJS, Allen BL, Allen LR, Ballar G-A, Bengsen A, Gentle MN, Mcleod
LJ, Meek PD, Saunders GR (2014) Management of wild canids in Aus-
tralia: free-ranging dogs and red foxes. Pages 105– 150. In: Glen AS, Dick-
man CR (eds) Carnivores of Australia: past, present and future. CSIRO
Publishing, Collingwood, Australia
Flörcke C, Engle TE, Grandin T, Deesing MJ (2012) Individual differences in
calf defence patterns in Red Angus beef cows. Applied Animal Behaviour
Science 139:203– 208
Flörcke C, Grandin T (2013) Loss of anti-predator behaviors in cattle and the
increased predation losses by wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains.
Open Journal of Animal Sciences 3:248– 253
Johnson C (2006) Australia’s mammal extinctions: a 50,000 year history. Cam-
bridge University Press, Melbourne, Australia
Johnson CN (2015) An ecological view of the dingo. Pages 191– 214. In: Smith
B (ed) The dingo debate: origins, behaviour and conservation. CSIRO
Publishing, Collingwood, Australia
Kluever BM, Breck SW, Howery LD, Krausman PR, Bergman DL (2008)
Vigilance in cattle: the inuence of predation, social interactions,
and environmental factors. Rangeland Ecology & Management 61:
321– 328
Kutt AS, Gordon IJ (2012) Variation in terrestrial mammal abundance on
pastoral and conservation land tenures in north-eastern Australian tropical
savannas. Animal Conservation 15:416–425
Restoration Ecology 5
Predator-friendly farming in Australia
Letnic M, Crowther MS (2013) Patterns in the abundance of kangaroo popu-
lations in arid Australia are consistent with the exploitation ecosystems
hypothesis. Oikos 122:761– 769
Letnic M, Koch F, Gordon C, Crowther MS, Dickman CR (2009) Key-
stone effects of an alien top-predator stem extinctions of native mam-
mals. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 276:
3249– 3256
Letnic M, Ritchie EG, Dickman CR (2012) Top predators as biodiversity reg-
ulators: the dingo Canis lupus dingo as a case study. Biological Reviews
87:390– 413
Lute ML, Navarrete CD, Nelson MP, Gore ML (2016) Moral dimensions of
human-wildlife conict. Conservation Biology, DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12731
Marks C (2013) Killing Schrödinger’s feral cat. Animal Studies Journal 2:
51–66
McManus JS, Dickman AJ, Gaynor D, Smuts BH, Macdonald DW (2015)
Dead or alive? Comparing costs and benets of lethal and non-lethal
human– wildlife conict mitigation on livestock farms. Oryx 49:
687– 695
Newsome TM, Ballard G-A, Crowther MS, Dellinger JA, Fleming PJS, Glen
AS, et al. (2015) Resolving the value of the dingo in ecological restoration.
Restoration Ecology 23:201– 208
O’Reagain P, Bushell P (2015) Wambiana grazing trial Phase 2: stocking and
spelling strategies for improving carrying capacity and land condition in
north Australian grazing lands, North Sydney, Australia
Pople AR, Grigg GC, Cairns SC, Beard LA, Alexander P (2000) Trends in the
numbers of red kangaroos and emus on either side of the South Aus-
tralian dingo fence: evidence for predator regulation? Wildlife Research
27:269– 276
Prowse TA, Johnson CN, Cassey P, Bradshaw CJA, Brook BW (2015) Ecological
and economic benets to cattle rangelands of restoring an apex predator.
Journal of Applied Ecology 52:455– 466
Purvis JR (1986) Nuture the land: my philosophies of pastoral management in
central Australia. The Rangeland Journal 8:110– 117
Ramp D, Bekoff M (2015) Compassion as a practical and evolved ethic for
conservation. Bioscience, DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biu1223
Ripple WJ, Estes JA, Beschta RL, Wilmers CC, Ritchie EG, Hebblewhite M,
et al. (2014) Status and ecological effects of the world’s largest carnivores.
Science 343:1241484
Sherley M (2007) Is sodium uoroacetate (1080) a humane poison? Animal
Welfare 16:449–458
Thomson PC (1992) The behavioural ecology of dingoes in north-western Aus-
tralia. IV. Social and spatial organization. Wildlife Research 19:543–563
Treves A, Bruskotter J (2014) Tolerance for predatory wildlife. Science
344:476– 477
Van Bommel L (2010) Guardian dogs: best practice manual for the use of
livestock guardian dogs. Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre,
Canberra, Australia
Van Bommel L, Johnson CN (2012) Good dog! Using livestock guardian dogs to
protect livestock from predators in Australia’s extensive grazing systems.
Wildlife Research 39:220
Van Bommel L, Johnson CN (2014) Protecting livestock while conserving
ecosystem function: non-lethal management of wild predators. Pages
323– 354. In: Glen AS, Dickman CR (eds) Carnivores of Australia: past,
present and future. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia
Van Bommel L, Johnson CN (2015) How guardian dogs protect livestock
from predators: territorial enforcement by Maremma sheepdogs. Wildlife
Research 41:662– 672
Wallach AD, Izhaki I, Toms JD, Ripple WJ, Shanas U (2015) What is an apex
predator? Oikos 124:1453– 1461
Wallach AD, Johnson CN, Ritchie EG, O’Neill AJ (2010) Predator con-
trol promotes invasive dominated ecological states. Ecology Letters
13:1008– 1018
Wallach AD, Ritchie EG, Read J, O’Neill AJ (2009) More than mere numbers:
the impact of lethal control on the social stability of a top-order predator.
PLoS One 4:e6861
Wicks S, Mazur K, Please P, Ecker S, Buetre B. (2014) An integrated assessment
of the impact of wold dogs in Australia, Canberra, ABARES Research
Report No. 14.4
Wielgus RB, Peebles KA (2014) Effects of wolf mortality on livestock depreda-
tions. PLoS One 9:e113505
Coordinating Editor: Ted Lefroy Received: 4 March, 2016; First decision: 30 March, 2016; Revised: 11 May,
2016; Accepted: 11 May, 2016
6Restoration Ecology
... Given the threats presented by persecution, there are increasing calls for acceptance and tolerance of carnivores in production landscapes (Manfredo et al. 2009;Treves and Bruskotter 2014;Johnson and Wallach 2016;Stone et al. 2017). These recommendations are part of wider calls for adopting models of sustainability across all human activities (Gunderson and Holling 2002;Folke et al. 2005;Abson et al. 2017;Sellberg et al. 2017). ...
... These recommendations are part of wider calls for adopting models of sustainability across all human activities (Gunderson and Holling 2002;Folke et al. 2005;Abson et al. 2017;Sellberg et al. 2017). Wildlife friendly farming has been advocated as a model of sustainable farming that better balances agricultural and conservation interests (Green et al. 2005;Fischer et al. 2008;White 2012;Johnson and Wallach 2016). It values the use of preventive non-lethal innovations, which include various proactive and preventive practices and tools that aim to reduce the vulnerability of livestock to predation by minimizing encounters between livestock and carnivores (Stone et al. 2017;Boronyak et al. 2020). ...
... It values the use of preventive non-lethal innovations, which include various proactive and preventive practices and tools that aim to reduce the vulnerability of livestock to predation by minimizing encounters between livestock and carnivores (Stone et al. 2017;Boronyak et al. 2020). Wildlife friendly farming is a global farming movement in which wildlife are tolerated and protected in production landscapes (Johnson and Wallach 2016). Tolerance of wildlife involves an acceptance of the real and perceived costs and benefits of living alongside them (Bruskotter and Fulton 2012;Kansky et al. 2016). ...
Article
Full-text available
Coexistence between livestock grazing and carnivores in rangelands is a major challenge in terms of sustainable agriculture, animal welfare, species conservation and ecosystem function. Many effective non-lethal tools exist to protect livestock from predation, yet their adoption remains limited. Using a social-ecological transformations framework, we present two qualitative models that depict transformative change in rangelands grazing. Developed through participatory processes with stakeholders from South Africa and the United States of America, the models articulate drivers of change and the essential pathways to transition from routine lethal management of carnivores towards mutually beneficial coexistence. The pathways define broad actions that incorporate multiple values in grazing systems including changes to livestock management practices, financial support, industry capacity building, research, improved governance and marketing initiatives. A key finding is the new concept of ‘Predator Smart Farming’, a holistic and conscientious approach to agriculture, which increases the resilience of landscapes, animals (domesticated and wild) and rural livelihoods. Implementation of these multiple pathways would lead to a future system that ensures thriving agricultural communities, secure livelihoods, reduced violence toward animals, and landscapes that are productive and support species conservation and coexistence.
... Predator avoidance behaviour alters the time and location of grazing by prey species by creating a 'landscape of fear' (Laundré et al. 2001), which limits the length of grazing of vegetation and may benefit other wildlife (Ripple and Beschta 2007). Reducing carnivore persecution, therefore, can play a vital role in conserving a range of threatened species and contribute to the 'bigger picture' efforts to improve the ecological sustainability of livestock production and regenerative agriculture (White 2012;Thorn et al. 2015;Johnson and Wallach 2016). The successful integration of conservation and production in agriculture provides a sustainable and economically profitable way forward and helps address the current biodiversity crisis (Fischer et al. 2006;Ferrier et al. 2019). ...
... For example, non-lethal tools and methods are preventive innovations because they are preferable from ethical, social, conservation and animal protection standpoints. Preventive innovations also contribute towards producer goals (protecting livestock, industry reputation, profitability and livelihood) by reducing predation risk to more tolerable levels (McManus et al. 2015b;Carter and Linnell 2016;Johnson and Wallach 2016;Treves et al. 2016;Stone et al. 2017;Wallach et al. 2018). ...
... Research regarding the efficacy of preventive innovations is growing along with its application to various livestock production systems; however, adoption remains limited (McManus et al. 2015b;Johnson and Wallach 2016;Treves et al. 2016;Stone et al. 2017;van Eeden et al. 2018). van Eeden et al. (2018) identified livestock guardian dogs and fladry as the most effective forms of preventive innovations and more effective than lethal control. ...
Article
In light of escalating threats to biodiversity, conflicts between humans and large carnivores in production landscapes must be resolved. We explore how interactions between humans, large carnivores, and livestock can be modified to promote coexistence. We identify four rationales for building coexistence capacities in extensive rangeland livestock production systems: (1) livestock production is a dominant terrestrial land use; (2) large carnivores provide critical contributions to ecological functions; (3) the persecution of large carnivores has high ethical, welfare, reputational and social costs; and (4) a growing body of evidence shows that lethal control can be counterproductive to reducing predation risk. Two key leverage points to foster human–carnivore coexistence are the adoption of preventive non-lethal innovations, and the creation of an enabling environment. Leverage points must be appropriate at the local landscape scale and contribute towards global efforts to conserve large carnivores.
... Conflict can arise when apex predators, such as the Mexican gray wolf, inhabit land that is concurrently used for agricultural purposes (Schoenecker & Shaw, 1997). Many ranchers perceive predators to be an eminent threat to their herds with some going so far as to use lethal means of removal to protect their livestock (Johnson & Wallach, 2016). Tension and over-reaction are exacerbated by government compensation programs that often underestimate the amount of income lost through depredation and put the burden of proof on ranchers who in turn must document losses across vast stretches of range (Morehouse et al., 2018). ...
... Apex predators play a key role in maintaining healthy and diverse ecosystems by, for example, helping to manage population numbers of meso-carnivores, ungulates, and small mammals (Johnson & Wallach, 2016;Parsons, 1998). Conversely, the removal of apex predators can cause exponential growth among prey populations to the point of causing significant damage to landscape vegetation through over-grazing. ...
Article
Many socio-political issues arise when predators, like the endangered Mexican gray wolf, are reintroduced into areas that are concurrently used by ranchers. There is a gap in understanding of how public dialogue convey and perpetuate the perceptions and attitudes agriculturalists hold toward predator reintroduction efforts. Our study explores how ranchers’ use of social media and interactive communication relate to this topic. Our analysis is guided by the following three theoretical elements of online communities: intellectual, social, and cultural. A qualitative design is used to explore the dialogue that conveys and perpetuates ranchers’ perceptions and attitudes to the wolf reintroduction. The cultural element-type tends to have the most influence on how information is received via online communities. This creates a cultural echo chamber, where the expression of outside views leads to defensive discussion that strengthens the culture of the community rather than foster its evolution.
... While technological innovations in nonlethal methods for predator deterrence have been developed around the world (Johnson and Wallach, 2016), we need to demonstrate that they are effective in protecting livestock through robust monitoring before there is substantial investment in such devices (Khorozyan and Waltert, 2019). Much of the literature on such devices is descriptive (Eklund et al., 2017) and there is publication bias toward reporting positive effects, with increases in predation underreported (Miller et al., 2016;Treves et al., 2016). ...
Article
Across the world, the impact of livestock predation is a significant economic and welfare issue for producers, particularly for free-range farms. Non-lethal predator control methods have broad consumer appeal, but in most instances there has been little validation of their effectiveness. Predation remains a major limitation for outdoor piggeries, where predation is both an economic and welfare problem. We compared the efficacy of (1) no lighting (un-lit control), (2) commercially-available Foxlights®, and (3) motion-activated spotlights to test whether lights can deter red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) from approaching farrowing huts on an outdoor piggery breeding facility. Passive infrared camera traps were mounted at the entrance to the farrowing huts to monitor fox activity over 85 farrowings. Multiple incidences of foxes carrying piglets away from the huts (both dead and alive) were recorded. There were significant lighting treatment effects on fox activity (P = 0.031) and farm records for number of piglet births recorded per sow (P = 0.015). Compared with the un-lit control treatment, farrowing huts in the Foxlights® treatment had 12 % more fox activity, and 23 % fewer piglet births recorded for sows in these paddocks. Controlling for environmental covariates, there was predicted to be 39 % more fox activity on dark (new moon) nights for the Foxlights® treatment. By contrast, compared with the control, farrowing huts in the motion-activated spotlight treatment had similar overall fox activity (–5%) and piglet births recorded (–3 %). Interactions with moon phase (and rainfall as a prediction of cloud cover) are likely to be important considerations for studies of lighting deterrents, and we found that weaning rate (farm records for the proportion of piglets born alive that survived to weaning) was only influenced by lunar illumination (p = 0.003), with 16 % fewer piglets born around bright (full moon) nights surviving to weaning compared with dark (new moon) nights. Rather than being a deterrent, Foxlights® appear to be an attractant to foxes on this property, where there was no reinforcement with aversive human activity or other deterrent modalities. The motion-activated spotlights may be more effective because they are only activated when an animal is present and should therefore have reduced likelihood of habituation; however we found no data suggesting that they improved the outcome over our un-lit control treatment for this outdoor piggery.
... There have been concerns raised that in some contexts lethal dingo control can have no effect, or even a counterproductive effect, on predation on livestock (Allen and Sparkes 2001; Allen 2015; van Eeden et al. 2018) and such management may impose time and financial burdens on landholders who are not concerned about dingo predation (Allen 2017). Some producers (mostly of cattle, although see Clark et al. 2018) choose not to lethally manage dingoes because they perceive that maintaining them in the landscape can improve productivity by suppressing herbivores that compete with their stock for feed(Johnson and Wallach 2016;van Eeden et al. 2019;Pollock 2019; Emmott 2021). Costbenefit analyses of maintaining dingo populations in areas where there are livestock are needed to understand where a balance lies under different environmental and industry contexts (see Allen 2015). ...
Article
Ancestral dingoes arrived in Australia at some time, or times, during the Holocene, heralding a period of long and uneasy coexistence with the human inhabitants of the continent. For the first Australians, dingoes became a valued and integral part of the culture but also exacted diverse social and economic costs. For early Europeans and later arrivals, dingoes were alternately revered for their strength and intelligence or feared and reviled for their attacks on livestock. These disparate views have scarcely changed in 232 years; if anything, the schism in perspectives about the dingo has widened as more has been discovered about this divisive and still enigmatic animal. Here, we show that current arguments about the dingo have deep origins by tracing the history of debate about the taxon’s name, when dingoes arrived in Australia, whether they are native or introduced, the early effects of dingoes on native fauna, and their current impacts as a ‘biodiversity regulator’ and destroyer of livestock. We suggest that some debates concerning the dingo will be resolved when more evidence is gained or new discoveries are made, whereas other debates will progress only when proponents and protagonists are able to agree on a research agenda and on thresholds for interpretation of the results that the agenda produces. Such new evidence, and new collaborative thinking, should provide a more robust underpinning for when, where and how dingoes are conserved and managed in future.
... Other tools available are lethal strategies such as trapping, snaring, and shooting (Pearson and Caroline 1981). Although there is a high degree of variation within the application of mitigation strategies reducing the risk of large carnivore predation (Eklund et al. 2017), effective mitigation strategies that balance wildlife conservation and sustainable agriculture are needed (Johnson and Wallach 2016). There is a consensus among activists, the general public's attitude, and academic wildlife groups of a preference for "more humane" non-lethal methods (Bergstrom 2017, Slagle et al. 2017, Treves et al. 2016. ...
Article
Full-text available
Nowadays population growth and the exploitation of the natural environments lead to encroachment of human activities in wildlife habitats, which increases human-wildlife conflicts, especially with carnivores. The investment of livestock owners and natural conservationists for mitigating these inconsistencies is vital. There is more evidence of an increasing trend in the complaints reported by Kharvana herders on wolf damages. This study aimed to capture people attitudes about wolves and investigate the familiarity and feasibility of four nonlethal methods including attractant removal, guarding dogs, alarm and scare tactics, and moving livestock for reducing the wolf depredation on small livestock (goat and sheep) in the region of interest. To conduct this study, 15% of the herders in each village from Kharvana were selected for interviews. We analyzed survey responses from 77 Kharvana-based herdsmen. Surprisingly, the results of the study indicated that although the majority of survey respondents reported an insufficient current level of protection from wolves and had a high desire to eliminate and kill wolves, there was a notable number of responses that neither agreed nor disagreed with having experienced negative impacts from wolves. We found that there is a perceived feasibility of implementing all four strategies in areas where are used as wintering feeding sites compared to areas are allowed to be grazed during warm part of the year. The use of guarding dogs (median rank = 1) was the most and significantly locally-feasible livestock protection measure (Friedman X^2(3) = 118.6, P<0.0001) for inclusion in conflict reduction programs that have already been used in the Kharvana area by the most herdsmen.
... Several nonlethal management strategies have been proposed that might allow coexistence with livestock. These include livestock guardian animals, switching from sheep to cattle, not grazing sheep near forested areas, moving livestock away from national park boundaries when they are lambing or calving, lower stocking densities, and using negative stimuli such as frightening devices or aversive conditioning (Johnson & Wallach, 2016;Smith & Appleby, 2018). For cattle production, however, simply ceasing lethal control of dingoes and doing nothing else may reduce predation on livestock by maintaining stable social pack structures (Allen, 2013;Wallach et al., 2017). ...
Article
Full-text available
Achieving conservation goals, such as coexistence between wildlife and humans, requires an evidence-based understanding of the factors that shape conservation contexts. For addressing conflict between humans and wildlife, this means understanding the barriers and opportunities to changing human behaviors toward wildlife. Here, we develop a Theory of Change (ToC) to promote coexistence between livestock producers and dingoes in Australia. The ToC is based on behavior change principles and interdisciplinary research identifying four key stakeholder groups who may influence dingo management. It employs four overlapping strategies to address these barriers: (a) a media campaign to promote public awareness of dingo management practices, which may result in pressure upon governments to restrict lethal control; (b) promoting more inclusive decision-making processes, specifically including Aboriginal Australians; (c) monitoring and evaluation of the effects of dingo management on livestock and ecosystems to identify opportunities for non-lethal dingo management; (d) campaign to encourage adoption of nonlethal management methods by livestock producers based on an understanding of sociopsychological factors that shape behaviors. The framework is a tool for conservation advocates and policymakers to implement and monitor change that facilitates both wildlife conservation and thriving rural communities. K E Y W O R D S human dimensions of wildlife, human-wildlife conflict, Theory of Change
Article
Predation as an important trophic interaction of ecological communities controls the large-scale patterns of species distribution, population abundance and community structure. Numerous studies address that predation can mediate diversity and regulate the ecological community and food web stability through changes in the behavior, morphology, development, and abundance of prey. Since predation has large effects on persistence and diversity, the local loss or removal of predation in a community can trigger a cascade of extinctions. In ecological theory, the effect of predation removal has been well studied in foodwebs, but it remains unclear in the case of a spatially distributed community connected by dispersal. In this study, the interaction between local and spatial processes is taken into account, we present how a predation turnoff in selective patches affects the synchronized oscillatory dynamics of a metacommunity. Using a simple predator–prey metacommunity with a diffusive dispersal, we show the impact of predation on synchronized, asynchronized and source–sink dynamics. Our results reveal that predation turnoff in very few patches stabilizes the metacommunity by damping the perfectly synchronized oscillatory state into multicluster equilibrium (i.e., steady) states. In a source–sink behavior, predation turnoff in a source patch reduces the number of sink patches and changes the clusters. In general, predation turnoff in low number of patches shows non-zero equilibrium states in both prey and predator populations, whereas predation turnoff in a larger number of patches can lead to the complete extinction of predators. Moreover, prey density from the patches where predation is absent goes to a saturating state near the carrying capacity. Thus, this study stresses that predation turnoff in selective patches acts as a stabilizing mechanism to promote the metacommunity persistence.
Article
In early July 2016, two male dingoes were brought by ferry to a small island called Pelorus in the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of north Queensland, Australia, as part of an experimental ‘feral’ goat eradication project. What was remarkable about this project was that the two dingoes released on the island had been implanted with a slow-release capsule containing sodium fluoroacetate, commonly known as ‘1080’. These so-called ‘Tik Toks’, produced by a firm called Scientec, were designed to release their poison into the bodies of the dingoes in approximately 600 days, after they had served their purpose as goat exterminators. The public and political backlash that the Pelorus experiment aroused reveals a gap between the team’s ambitions to ‘set the platform’ for the conservation of ‘pristine’ islands and community sentiment concerning animal cruelty. Just how this ‘bizarre’ experiment (as it was described in State parliament) gained ethics approval is one part of this story. Another relates to implants themselves and what this ‘innovation’ (‘the stuff of horror films’ as one petitioner described it) reveals about attitudes to ‘killing for conservation’. The Pelorus experiment also shows us what is frequently concealed by eradication programmes, which is that they rely not on a single act of eradication, but a cycle of violence that we describe here as a form of ‘feral violence’. In the case of Pelorus, the ‘implants’ tipped Conservation’s motif from the romance of ‘rescuing nature’ to that of horror, imperilling the social licence that conservation projects assume.
Thesis
Full-text available
Humans are exerting unparalleled pressures on terrestrial vertebrates through overexploitation and development. The patterns of human destruction on the natural environment are especially prevalent within carnivore distributions because they are subject to not only habitat fragmentation and loss, but they are also perceived as a threat to human societies leading to direct conflict. Although the perceived negative impacts of predators and scavengers dominate policy and individual action towards carnivores, there is a growing body of literature pointing to the potential benefits that predators and scavengers provide within shared landscapes. The overall aim of this thesis is to address key gaps in our knowledge on the exposure and contribution of predators and scavengers to humans and how this information can be used to enhance conservation initiatives. Human pressures cause species extinction. These pressures range from over-hunting and urbanization to other forms of habitat loss such as agricultural development. While human pressures and their threatening processes have been increasingly documented across a range of species and ecosystems, we do not know the extent of intense cumulative human pressures within species’ geographic ranges globally. In Chapter 2, I aim to quantify the exposure of terrestrial vertebrates to intense human pressure, including carnivores. I use the most up-to-date spatial dataset on cumulative human pressure, which takes into account eight pressures known to cause species decline. I find that 85% of the terrestrial vertebrates assessed have more than half of their range exposed to these cumulative pressures, with carnivores having similar exposure. Specifically, carnivores have on average 75% of their ranges overlapping with intense human pressures. This work provides a useful starting point for assessing species at risk of decline, especially for species with limited information on threats. Carnivore declines impact ecosystem stability that can result in negative impacts on human well-being. In Chapter 3, I aim to provide the first review of the benefits provided by predators and scavengers in shared landscapes with humans. I find that predators and scavengers have been shown to reduce zoonotic disease risk, increase agricultural output, and limit species known to cause injury and death to humans. Through the review process, I found considerable gaps in knowledge regarding the potential benefits of predators and scavengers in shared landscapes, and I discuss future avenues of research, its caveats, and opportunities. An important knowledge gap identified during the review was the ecological and human well-being implications of losing apex scavengers. Although there is a great deal of information about the ecological repercussions of losing apex predators, we know relatively little about the role of apex scavengers at regulating lower trophic levels and how this can impact ecosystem health and human well-being. In Chapter 4, I describe the mesoscavenger release hypothesis, the competitive release of mesoscavengers in the absence of apex scavengers. This work sets the foundation for future studies investigating the consequences of apex scavenger decline on ecosystems and human health and provides a springboard for conservation action on imperilled apex scavengers. Another key question asked during the review was the potential role of large carnivores at benefiting humans. Chapters 5-7 focus on addressing this gap. Chapter 5 provides a case study of one of the most widespread large carnivores, leopards (Panthera pardus), at reducing bites and rabies risk from feral dogs in Mumbai, India. I discuss the implications of large carnivores at providing similar services around the world, especially where feral dogs are a considerable human health hazard in peri-urban environments. In Chapter 6 I quantify the predation value of two large carnivore species on an overabundant invasive species, wild pigs (Sus scrofa), known to cause substantial damage to agricultural lands. This chapter offers important information for assessing the benefits of large carnivore conservation on agricultural productivity while accounting for livestock loss. In Chapter 7 I assess the global ramifications of expanding wild pig populations, utilizing information on predicted wild pig densities and data on soil organic carbon (SOC) storage to quantify their relative impacts on SOC vulnerability. I discuss that wild pig control could be promoted through human-induced management and conservation of native predators. These case studies provide a foundation for future work investigating links between natural predation and human well-being through mitigating health hazards and increasing agricultural productivity in shared landscapes. These studies will also deliver conservation practitioners additional information on the consequences of large carnivore recovery. This thesis highlights the state of carnivores in shared landscapes with humans and the potential crucial services they provide. I address key gaps in our knowledge on the exposure and contribution of predators and scavengers to humans and how this information can be used to enhance conservation initiatives
Article
Full-text available
Despite increasing support for conservation globally, controversy over specific conservation policies persists among diverse stakeholders. Investigating the links between morals in relation to conservation can help increase understanding about why humans support or oppose policy, especially related to human-wildlife conflict or human conflict over wildlife. Assessing the intrinsic value of a living entity beyond its use to humans provides one way for measuring morality of human-nature interactions. Cognitions and emotions can underlay intrinsic value, which may in turn influence behaviors and policy-making that impacts wildlife. Moral dimensions of human-wildlife conflict has mostly gone unconsidered and unmeasured by conservation social scientists; thus policy and programmatic efforts to reduce controversy may be missing a key part of the equation. We conducted a web-based survey (n = 1239) of Michigan wolf stakeholders to investigate cognitive and emotional influences on the value-behavior relationship. Analyses revealed intrinsic value for wolves was linked to wolf-related human behavior vis a vis emotions favoring wolves and cognitions that hunting and trapping wolves is unacceptable. Most respondents attributed intrinsic value to wolves, all life and engaged in behaviors to benefit wolf populations and ecosystems regardless of stakeholder group (e.g., environmentalist, farmer). Despite similarities in intrinsic values, groups differed in emotions and cognitions about wolf hunting, providing useful ways to predict stakeholder behavior. Our findings may inform interventions aimed at increasing policy support and positive interactions among stakeholders and wildlife. Leveraging agreement over intrinsic value may foster cooperation among stakeholders and garner support for controversial conservation policy. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Article
Full-text available
Managing livestock near Yellowstone National Park has become an increasing challenge since conservation of wolves restricts ranchers from interfering. Even though wolves are beneficial for the ecosystem, rising predation incidences on livestock (depredations) create animosity in local farmers. Temperament selection of cattle, measured by the facial hair whorl pattern (HW)1, occurred during the last 15 years and the industry prefers calmer temperament animals. Six HWs occur in cattle (high, middle, low, abnormal, multiple and none), which are mutually exclusive and can be identified by using the eye-line as a reference point. We analyzed depredation of calves near Council, ID in 2011. A herd of 588 Black Angus × Charolais crossbreds (age range: 5 - 17 years) was observed. By analyzing the HW and age of cows in relation to depredations, we could identify a connection between these three factors (P
Article
Full-text available
Context Livestock guardian dogs (LGDs, Canis familiaris) can be highly effective in protecting livestock from predators; however, how they accomplish this, is poorly understood. Whereas it is clear that these dogs spend a high proportion of their time accompanying livestock, and confront predators that approach closely, it is unknown whether they also maintain territories around the areas used by their livestock and exclude predators from those territories. Aims We aimed to determine whether LGD behaviour towards predators is consistent with defence of a larger territory that encompasses the stock, or is based on repelling predators that closely approach livestock. Methods We used audio playbacks and scent placements to simulate incursions by dingoes (Canis dingo) at different locations with the LGD ranges, and used GPS tracking and automatic cameras to monitor responses to these incursions. Key results The LGD responses depended on location of the incursion. When simulated incursions were a significant distance inside the range (about the 50th kernel isopleth), they responded by vocalising, leaving their livestock, and travelling up to 570m away from the stock to approach the incursion point and display challenging behaviour; when incursions were at the boundary of the range (at or beyond the 90th kernel isopleth), they vocalised but did not approach the incursion point, regardless of the location of the sheep. The LGDs in this study worked in groups. Group members responded differently to simulated incursions, some moving to challenge, whereas others remained close to the sheep. Conclusions Our results showed that protection by LGDs extends beyond the immediate vicinity of livestock, and is consistent with the defence of a larger territory. Implications If predators are excluded from this territory, LGDs enforce a spatial separation of predators and livestock. This would reduce risk of attack, but also prevents the disturbance and stress to livestock that would be caused by frequent approaches of predators. Where possible, training and management of LGDs should allow them to range freely over large areas so that they can develop and exhibit territorial behaviour, and they should be deployed in groups so that group members can assume complementary roles.
Article
Full-text available
There is global interest in restoring populations of apex predators, both to conserve them and to harness their ecological services. In Australia, reintroduction of dingoes (Canis dingo) has been proposed to help restore degraded rangelands. This proposal is based on theories and the results of studies suggesting that dingoes can suppress populations of prey (especially medium- and large-sized herbivores) and invasive predators such as red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and feral cats (Felis catus) that prey on threatened native species. However, the idea of dingo reintroduction has met opposition, especially from scientists who query the dingo's positive effects for some species or in some environments. Here, we ask 'what is a feasible experimental design for assessing the role of dingoes in ecological restoration?' We outline and propose a dingo reintroduction experiment-one that draws upon the existing dingo-proof fence-and identify an area suitable for this (Sturt National Park, western New South Wales). Although challenging, this initiative would test whether dingoes can help restore Australia's rangeland biodiversity, and potentially provide proof-of-concept for apex predator reintroductions globally.
Article
Full-text available
Large ‘apex’ predators influence ecosystems in profound ways, by limiting the density of their prey and controlling smaller ‘mesopredators’. The loss of apex predators from much of their range has lead to a global outbreak of mesopredators, a process known as ‘mesopredator release’ that increases predation pressure and diminishes biodiversity. While the classifications apex- and meso-predator are fundamental to current ecological thinking, their definition has remained ambiguous. Trophic cascades theory has shown the importance of predation as a limit to population size for a variety of taxa (top–down control). The largest of predators however are unlikely to be limited in this fashion, and their densities are commonly assumed to be determined by the availability of their prey (bottom–up control). However, bottom–up regulation of apex predators is contradicted by many studies, particularly of non-hunted populations. We offer an alternative view that apex predators are distinguishable by a capacity to limit their own population densities (self-regulation). We tested this idea using a set of life-history traits that could contribute to self-regulation in the Carnivora, and found that an upper limit body mass of 34 kg (corresponding with an average mass of 13–16 kg) marks a transition between extrinsically- and self-regulated carnivores. Small carnivores share fast reproductive rates and development and higher densities. Large carnivores share slow reproductive rates and development, extended parental care, sparsely populated territories, and a propensity towards infanticide, reproductive suppression, alloparental care and cooperative hunting. We discuss how the expression of traits that contribute to self-regulation (e.g. reproductive suppression) depends on social stability, and highlight the importance of studying predator–prey dynamics in the absence of predator persecution. Self-regulation in large carnivores may ensure that the largest and the fiercest do not overexploit their resources.
Article
Full-text available
There is global interest in restoring populations of apex predators, both to conserve them and to harness their ecological services. In Australia, reintroduction of dingoes (Canis dingo) has been proposed to help restore degraded rangelands. This proposal is based on theories and the results of studies suggesting that dingoes can suppress populations of prey (especially medium- and large-sized herbivores) and invasive predators such as red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and feral cats (Felis catus) that prey on threatened native species. However, the idea of dingo reintroduction has met opposition, especially from scientists who query the dingo’s positive effects for some species or in some environments. Here, we ask ‘what is a feasible experimental design for assessing the role of dingoes in ecological restoration?’We outline and propose a dingo reintroduction experiment—one that draws upon the existing dingo-proof fence—and identify an area suitable for this (Sturt National Park, western New South Wales). Although challenging, this initiative would test whether dingoes can help restore Australia’s rangeland biodiversity, and potentially provide proof-of-concept for apex predator reintroductions globally.
Article
Full-text available
The ethical position underpinning decisionmaking is an important concern for conservation biologists when setting priorities for interventions. The recent debate on how best to protect nature has centered on contrasting intrinsic and aesthetic values against utilitarian and economic values, driven by an inevitable global rise in conservation conflicts. These discussions have primarily been targeted at species and ecosystems for success, without explicitly expressing concern for the intrinsic value and welfare of individual animals. In part, this is because animal welfare has historically been thought of as an impediment to conservation. However, practical implementations of conservation that provide good welfare outcomes for individuals are no longer conceptually challenging; they have become reality. This reality, included under the auspices of “compassionate conservation,” reflects an evolved ethic for sharing space with nature and is a major step forward for conservation.
Article
* Apex predators can benefit ecosystems through toptextendashdown control of mesopredators and herbivores. However, apex predators are often subject to lethal control aimed at minimizing attacks on livestock. Lethal control can affect both the abundance and behaviour of apex predators. These changes could in turn influence the abundance and behaviour of mesopredators. * We used remote camera surveys at nine pairs of large Australian rangeland properties, comparing properties that controlled dingoes Canis lupus dingo with properties that did not, to test the effects of predator control on dingo activity and to evaluate the responses of a mesopredator, the feral cat Felis catus. * Indices of dingo abundance were generally reduced on properties that practiced dingo control, in comparison with paired properties that did not, although the effect size of control was variable. Dingoes in uncontrolled populations were crepuscular, similar to major prey. In populations subject to control, dingoes became less active around dusk, and activity was concentrated in the period shortly before dawn. * Shifts in feral cat abundance indices between properties with and without dingo control were inversely related to corresponding shifts in indices of dingo abundance. There was also a negative relationship between predator visitation rates at individual camera stations, suggesting cats avoided areas where dingoes were locally common. Reduced activity by dingoes at dusk was associated with higher activity of cats at dusk. * Our results suggest that effective dingo control not only leads to higher abundance of feral cats, but allows them to optimize hunting behaviour when dingoes are less active. This double effect could amplify the impacts of dingo control on prey species selected by cats. In areas managed for conservation, stable dingo populations may thus contribute to management objectives by restricting feral cat access to prey populations. * ~Synthesis and applications. Predator control not only reduces indices of apex predator abundance but can also modify their behaviour. Hence, indicators other than abundance, such as behavioural patterns, should be considered when estimating a predator's capacity to effectively interact with lower trophic guilds. Changes to apex predator behaviour may relax limitations on the behaviour of mesopredators, providing enhanced access to resources and prey.
Article
Grazing management is important for sustaining the productivity and health of rangelands. However, the effects of grazing management on herbage growth and species composition in the tropical savannas of northern Australia are not well known. In this eight-year study the influences of utilization rate and resting pastures from grazing on vegetation dynamics were measured at three sites in northeast Queensland, Australia. The sites had high, medium, and low soil fertility, and there were two land condition classes (States I and II) at each site. Severe drought occurred during the first four years, but above-average rainfall was received in the second half of the study. High utilization rates reduced biomass, perennial grass basal area, and ground cover. The reduction in biomass was due to both higher consumption and decreased primary production. State I condition plots at the high and medium soil fertility sites were initially dominated by decreaser perennial grasses, but these declined at all utilization levels, particularly the high rate. They were largely replaced by exotic perennial grasses. At the low fertility site there were no exotic grasses, and the decreaser grasses increased in all treatments, with the increases greatest in plots with low utilization or medium utilization plus resting. In the State II condition plots at the high and medium fertility sites, low or moderate utilization, led to an increase in both decreaser and exotic perennial grasses; with high utilization the decreaser perennial grasses declined and were replaced largely by exotic perennial grasses. This study clearly demonstrated that either conservative stocking with year-round grazing or a grazing system that includes some wet-season resting will help maintain land in a desirable state or help facilitate the transition from a less desirable ecological state to one more desirable for pastoral production and rangeland condition.