‘Carnivore cleansing’ is damaging ecosystems, scientists warn


Extermination of large predators such as wolves and bears has a cascading effect on delicate ecological balance

Carnivore extermination damaging ecosystems : hunters drag wolves they killed, Belarus
Belarus hunters drag wolves they killed overnight near village Pruzhanka, some 110 km south-east of Minsk February 8, 2005. Hunting for wolfs in Belarus is legal throughout the whole year with a hunter getting 168,000 Belarus roubles ($77 US dollars) for every wolf killed. Photograph: Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters

6 thoughts on “‘Carnivore cleansing’ is damaging ecosystems, scientists warn

  1. Leaving large predators alone also has a cascading effect, the “trophic cascade.” The key predators lower the numbers of their prey, and the next lower trophic level, which the prey overuse, tends to flourish. If wolves reduce the elk population, then the trees and plants that they would eat are left for another level to use as food, shelter, and habitat.

    Dave Foreman, one of the founders of Earth!First has been involved in an organization, The Wildlands Project, to “rewild” and restore wilderness for the large predators. But the trophic cascade is often interrupted by human activity. Wilderness areas are shared by hunters, trappers, hikers, and loggers, etc. The corridors that bears, cougars, and wolves, in particular, need to traverse to live and seek food, are often broken up by roads, private property, logging sites, and ranches. The cascade is also interrupted by fish and wildlife agencies who “manage” the big predators by killing them to provide hunters with more deer, elk, and moose to shoot. They also destroy the “pests” at the lower trophic levels for the benefit of farmers and ranchers.

    The human population is exploding and demanding more wilderness areas to use for resources and recreation. That population also requires increased food production and land dedicated to farming and ranching. The question is–will the trophic cascade ever be free to function as it should in the modern world?

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