Making room for large carnivores

Photo courtesy of USFWS

Photo courtesy of USFWS

Over the last few posts, I’ve mentioned that a number of groups around the world are working to reduce human-carnivore conflict- some of those strategies have been more successful than others, but we do have a better sense of what helps limit conflict, both from the human and the wildlife perspective.

To get insight into some of the challenges faced by people trying to accommodate wildlife, check out the Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association– their short film “Sharing the Range” is informative and inspiring (and the footage of grizzly cubs running around is awesome!).

If you share your location with large carnivores, there are a number of sources that offer ideas for coexisting with them:
• For black bears, check out the Missouri Dept. of Conservation’s page on how to ID and prevent damage from bears
Project CAT provides information on living with cougars
Defenders of Wildlife have a guide on non-lethal tools and methods to reduce conflict with wolves
• USDA Forest Service participates in a program to limit human-carnivore conflict
• Further afield, the EU provides information for living with large carnivores in Europe

You can also help out large carnivore survival by aiding researchers who are working to better understand the needs of carnivores, the points of conflict, and the options for reducing that conflict:
Some options for donations include
o Endangered Wolf Center
o Niassa Carnivore Project
o Mountain Lion Foundation
o Wildlands Project

There are also ways to directly contribute to research, for example by tracking large carnivores in the Carpathian Mountains or monitoring carnivores in Finland– I know those locations may seem very far away, but the reading I’ve done over the past few weeks suggests that scientists all over are happy to benefit from public help with carnivore research, so contact your local fish and wildlife agency or a nearby university- your eyes, ears, legs, etc. could be in great demand!

And probably the most important thing is to remember that keeping large carnivores in their ecosystems is a task for everyone- for people who interact with them on a daily basis, it takes tolerance and efforts to minimize contact; for people living in areas that have lost large carnivores, it means helping the first group bear the costs of sharing their space.