A hint of anger or disgust can be heard when conversation turns to wolves and coyotes in some communities – particularly those where managing livestock pays the bills. A long-held belief in many regions of the world – including many parts of Canada – is that eliminating these predators will protect livestock. Though numerous studies show that bounties or culls are ineffective at this, the practice remains in place.
Dr. Gilbert Proulx of Alpha Wildlife Research & Management, along with Sadie Parr of Wolf Awareness Inc., wanted to test some of the beliefs surrounding cattle and wild canids. In their paper Is Livestock An Important Food Resource For Coyotes and Wolves in Central Eastern Alberta Counties with Predator Control Bounties?, the duo tested three hypotheses based on assertations supporting bounties. The results showed, simply, that cattle isn’t an important food resource and that a bounty made no difference in the amount of cattle consumed by coyotes and wolves. The results also led to the recommendation that the bounties be discontinued.
With communities spending tens of thousands of limited budgets on ineffective bounties, individual animals being killed, and ecosystems being irreparably damaged, this science is more important than ever. Dr. Gilbert Proulx joined Defender Radio to discuss the science behind the research, some of the factors that lead to the belief that predators are killing livestock, and what’s necessary to move forward from this outdated model of management.
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