06 February 2014 When Top Predators Collide Posted by: Chris Haney | 11 comments | Share: Inability to share the planet more equitably is constraining the welfare of large carnivores and human predators alike. Nevertheless, it is humans that bear primary responsibility for hoarding the planet’s resources. New calls are being issued to rethink how we can more optimally measure and then share this natural wealth so as to create more resilient natural and economic systems. Grizzly bear, ©Michael S. Quinton, National Geographic stock Carnivores are wide-ranging, but rare because of their positions at the top of food webs. Most of the largest carnivore species, like lions, wolves, and bears, have experienced substantial population declines and range contractions throughout the world during the previous 200 years. Because carnivores require large prey and expansive habitats, they often find themselves in direct conflict with human interests, especially when it comes to domestic livestock. Nevertheless, large carnivores deliver to our human economies a variety of ecosystem services. These include direct benefits associated with tourism, like photography or nature tours, as well as indirect ecosystem services, like carbon storage to buffer climate change, re-establishing native plants, regulating disease, and even controlling native herbivores that compete directly with livestock for forage. Despite these many benefits, William Ripple and other carnivore specialists recently published a study summarizing how large carnivores face enormous threats that render them exceedingly vulnerable to becoming imperiled and even driven extinct. Human economic systems typically under-value contributions of these large carnivores, and that under-valuing is costing us. Oil infastructure criscrosses Beartooth Absaroka Front in Wyoming. In a separate study, another group of experts led by Robert Costanza questions how we measure economic success. Traditionally, and almost undisputedly, the world has measured a nation’s success by its gross domestic product (GDP). Emphasis on that measurement has driven forms of development that are detrimental to the environment, like oil and gas drilling, or over-developing ecologically important land. A major criticism of GDP is that depleting our natural resources leads to social inequities, instabilities, and perverse incentives. For example, 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill and 2011’s Hurricane Sandy both boosted GDP in the United States. Neither, of course, could be deemed as improving social well-being overall. This study argues that a global society should strive instead for a high quality of life that is both equitably shared and more sustainable. Is there a solution for all this anthropogenic selfishness? Perhaps. For large carnivores, promoting tolerance and successful coexistence requires novel and bold actions. To coordinate the societal challenge, Ripple and colleagues propose a Global Large Carnivore Initiative to promote greater tolerance for large carnivores, a conservation approach emphasized in Defenders’ work. Costanza and his colleagues propose that we leave GDP behind and instead adopt a new way to measure success – one that integrates current knowledge of how ecology, economics, psychology and sociology all combine to contribute to human welfare. In their words: Building the future we desire requires that we measure what we want. J. Christopher Haney, Ph.D., Chief scientist 11 Responses to “When Top Predators Collide” C. Parker February 6th, 2014 It’s a sad day when we will spend 2m to kill animals that is part of our ecosystem and we won’t spend 2m to feed children or Americans. Jodi Desharnais February 6th, 2014 Couldn’t we find those idahoans some other way to spend their time? Like build them a golf course or something . Seriously people may not want to wrap their heads around this but there’s real death involved here. And these type of people can’t seem to get enough of it- they want to Kill all these Wolves so they can roll around in some more Buffalo Blood! Geez! They are like sick maggots Nikki wise February 6th, 2014 I believe that if the people in charge of our economies took notice to this research and looked hard enough for a plan for co – existence it’s a very obtainable prospect , one that benefits not only us humans but the animals and the delicate ecosystems of this planet. Reading other articles has explained how farmers can co-exist with large predators using safer and more humane methods other than trapping and shooting , if the governments get behind these projects and promote education and funding in these areas than everyone would benefit especially the large predators that play such a vital role in this world. Shari W. February 6th, 2014 I call Idaho’s Govenor –Butcher. He is mean and cruel !! Rex February 7th, 2014 anthropogenic ? you are the problem! you can’t shove this down peoples throats who actually live out of town and away from people like all y’all, I would like to be able to walk my mail box with out have to carrying a shot gun… You probably don’t want people like me Hunter trapper old white guy as a neighbor so I’m staying where I am and living by what we call the three sss’ies shoot shovel and shut up! Angela Up North February 7th, 2014 I have a great reverence for the grey wolf. The culture out west is so different than in Minnesota. We have by FAR the largest population in the small area in which I live called the Arrowhead Region of Minnesota. I have had some hair raising interactions with them – but never worth killing over. I love what makes my home wild – including the wolf. I write about homesteading, wolves and everyday living in the Arrowhead Region at my blog http://www.angelaupnorth.blogspot.com . Dr Emy Wilhelm February 8th, 2014 I totally agree that humans bear the primary responsibility of managing our planet’s resources. Unfortunately, though, people are the main culprits in upsetting the natural balance of things. Sadly, They are drive by greed and self- centredness. Merrill Glustrom February 8th, 2014 Thanks for the timely commentary! An idea that might help protect wolves: A PBS documentary I recently viewed brought out that wolves tend to kill the guard dogs who protect the cattle and sheep, which made me wonder about an idea that a 15 year old implemented successfully in Kenya. Lions were killing their cattle, and villagers were then killing the lions. Fences didn’t help, nor did making noise. This fellow came up with the idea of lights. He invented a strobe-like device, which kept the lions away! Could something similar be used with wolves? (I realize that wolves are much more resourceful than lions, but I thought I would suggest it anyway.) It’s understandable that a rancher would react to having his dog killed. http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_turere_a_peace_treaty_with_the_lions.html It’s really worth watching! Would some form of this idea have potential? Best, Merrill Glustrom Boulder, Colorado yogimom February 9th, 2014 shoot, shovel and shut up? you need to carry a gun to protect yourself from other people just like you? yogimom February 9th, 2014 Trapping is an awful, hurtful thing that inflicts such pain and suffering. No animal deserves that. Wes February 11th, 2014 You stink whoever kills nature Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. 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