No proof that predator culls save livestock, study claims

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The logic of predator control seems airtight: Remove livestock-killing wolves, coyotes, bears, and other predators, and you'll protect farmers and ranchers from future losses. As a result, officials kill thousands of animals, including hundreds of wolves, in the United States each year. But there are reasons to doubt that common sense notion. Some research suggests that coyote populations subject to culling have higher pup survival rates, and that male cougars expand their ranges in response to hunting. A new study now finds that much of the evidence supporting lethal control is flawed. Examining more than 100 peer-reviewed studies of predator control, the study found not a single lethal control study that met scientists' gold standard: a randomized, controlled design.

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... The debate about the efficacy of managing wildlife predators to save livestock is hindered by a lack of empirical studies of acceptable scientific standards 24 . In the US, subsidized efforts to manage predation on sheep has also been suggested to not result in a stable sheep industry and continued subsidies criticized on the notion that they are simply killing carnivores 25 . ...
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Pastoralists have dealt with livestock losses from predators for millennia, yet effective mitigation strategies that balance wildlife conservation and sustainable agriculture are still needed today. In Wyoming, USA, 274 ranchers responded to a retrospective survey, and rated the efficacy of predation mitigation strategies for foxes, dogs, coyotes, wolves, bobcats, mountain lions, bears, and birds (buzzards, eagles, hawks, ravens). Rancher reported efficacy of mitigation varied by predator species, mitigation strategy, and lethality of strategies, but not livestock type. Ranchers perceive they were most effective at mitigating predation by foxes and coyotes, moderately effective at mitigating large carnivores, and the least effective at mitigating birds. Ranchers also reported that avian predators seem to be the most challenging predator type. The general perception was lethal mitigation strategies were more effective than non-lethal strategies, with guard animals showing the most potential among the non-lethal options. In general, ranchers did not perceive non-lethal strategies as a proxy for lethal strategies. However, a few ranchers reported being successful with non-lethal options such as herding, fencing, and stalling at night but more details about such successful applications are needed. Innovation in current or novel non-lethal mitigation strategies, and examples of efficacy, are needed to justify producer adoption.
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