Keep The Wolf From The Door: How To Conserve Wolves In Europe’s Human Dominated Landscapes?
June 30, 2019
The recolonization of wolves in European human-dominated landscapes poses a conservation challenge to protect this species and manage conflicts. The question of how humans can co-exist with large carnivores often triggers strong emotions. Here we provide an objective, science-based discussion on possible management approaches. Using existing knowledge on large carnivore management from Europe and other parts of the globe, we develop four potential wolf management scenarios; 1) population control, 2) protection and compensation, 3) fencing, 4) managing behaviour of wolf and man. For each scenario, we discuss its impact on wolf ecology, its prospects of reducing wolf-human conflicts and how it relates to current European legislation. Population control and fencing of local wolf populations are problematic because of their ecological impacts and conflicts with European legislation. In contrast, a no-interference approach does not have these problems but will likely increase human-wolf conflicts. Despite the large challenges in European, human-dominated landscapes, we argue that wolf management must focus on strengthening the separation between humans and wolves by influencing behaviour of wolves and humans on a fine spatio-temporal scale to prevent and reduce conflicts. As separation also demands a sufficiently large wild prey base, we urge restoring natural ungulate populations, to reduce human-wolf conflicts. Mutual avoidance provides the key to success, and is critical to avoid creating the conditions for reinstating wolf persecution as the default policy in Europe.
Author(s): D.P.J. Kuijpera, M. Churskia, A. Trouwborstb, M. Heurichc, C. Smitd, G.I.H. Kerleye, J.P.G.M. Cromsigt