Governments in North America and Europe Systematically Over-Inflate Native Carnivore Numbers for Political Purposes
June 30, 2019
Society expects governments to implement evidencebased policy to preserve wildlife for future generations, a responsibility often codified in law (Treves et al. 2017b). The difficulties of crafting sound policy, however, are pronounced for large terrestrial carnivores. Systems in which humans and carnivores share space are characterized by high mortality of carnivores, threats to human safety, economic loss, and political conflicts (Treves 2009; Ripple et al. 2014; Darimont et al. 2015). Despite common and substantial data deficiencies, estimates of abundance and trend are often central in justifying controversial policies such as hunting, lethal control, and strict protections. Given the political conflict surrounding carnivore population protection or reduction (Nie 2004; Chapron & Lopez-Bao 2014), we contend that reporting of population data (abundance and trend) and associated policies are exceptionally prone to political influence. We hypothesize that some governments and other organizations justify politically preferred policies by over- or underreporting without empirical justification the size or other population data of carnivore populations, creating what we term political populations (populations with ecological attributes constructed to serve political interests).
Author(s): Chris T. Darimont, Paul C. Paquet, Adrian Treves, Kyle A. Artelle, and Guillaume Chapron