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Troublemaking carnivores: conflicts with humans in a diverse assemblage of large carnivores

Andrea T. Morehouse, University of Alberta
Mark S. Boyce, University of Alberta


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Human-wildlife conflicts are a global conservation and management challenge. Multipredator systems present added complexity to the resolution of human-wildlife conflicts because mitigation strategies often are species-specific. Documenting the type and distribution of such conflicts is an important first step toward ensuring that subsequent management and mitigation efforts are appropriately targeted. We reviewed 16 years of records of complaints about two species of strict carnivores, wolves (Canis lupus) and cougars (Puma concolor), and two species of omnivores, grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) and black bears (Ursus americanus) in southwestern Alberta and evaluated the temporal and spatial distribution of these complaints. Conflicts were most frequently associated with bears (68.7% of complaint records), reflecting a diversity of conflict types attributable to their omnivorous diets. Although grizzly bears killed and injured livestock, the majority of conflicts with bears were attributable to attractants (grain and dead livestock for grizzly bears, garbage for black bears). In contrast, wolf and cougar incidents were almost exclusively related to killing or injury of livestock. Complaints for both bear species have increased over the past 16 years while cougar and wolf complaints have remained relatively constant. Grizzly bear and cougar conflicts have been expanding into private lands used for agriculture. Although community driven, targeted mitigation measures have helped reduce conflicts with grizzly bears at the site level, conflicts at the broader scale have continued to increase and continued work is necessary. Long-term human-carnivore coexistence clearly is possible, facilitated by continued monitoring and local efforts to mitigate conflicts.

Key words

black bear; carnivores; cougar; grizzly bear; human-wildlife conflict; livestock depredation; omnivory; predation; wolf

Copyright © 2017 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087