(ORDO NEWS) — Sometimes conservationists place unnecessarily high hopes on the restoration of natural ecosystems after the return of large predators – wolves, cougars and bears.
A new study shows that the “miracle” most likely will not happen. But this does not mean that we should not allow predators to live in the places that were their home long before the arrival of man.
Large carnivore recovery programs launched in many countries have always been controversial. On the one hand, environmentalists insisted on the need to restore human-destroyed ecosystems that had lost one of the main links in the food chain.
On the other hand, farmers and hunters argue that the increase in the number of predators will cause irreparable harm to domestic animals and valuable hunting species.
Now we can say that both are wrong: after analyzing data on the reintroduction of large predators in the United States and other countries, scientists came to the conclusion that the return of, say, a wolf will not lead to a miraculous “healing”, a decrease in the number of deer herds and restoration ecosystems as a whole, but will not become a serious threat to farms.
When the U.S. federal government removed the gray wolf ( Canis lupus ) from its list of endangered species, hunters and farmers, as well as some state governments, called for a fight against the “dangerous” predator, which was considered a major threat to valuable commercial species (such as deer and elk) and domestic livestock.
However, in reality, the authors of the article argue, many other factors lead to the death of all these animals – from parasites and diseases to collisions with cars and lightning strikes. So instead of killing the wolves, people should spend that money on, say, hiring more shepherds.
As for hunters, their worries are completely unfounded: today, deer populations in the United States are experiencing a historical maximum, because people have created ideal living conditions for them.
Neither hunters, nor machines, nor feral dogs can destroy enough of these animals to seriously reduce their numbers.
Just as one or two packs of wolves will not be able to do this: according to the researchers, tens of thousands of predators will be required to significantly reduce the deer population in Wisconsin alone.
So, all the efforts of conservationists, returning large predators, do not make sense? Not at all, we just need to shift the focus and carry out measures for their reintroduction, not for the sake of potential benefits for the ecosystem, but simply because it is the right thing to do.
Wolves, cougars, bears and other predators lived on our planet long before the appearance of the first people, and now we must learn to coexist together as good neighbors.
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