Study: Government Wolf-killing Reduces Tolerance, Spurs Wolf-poaching

May 11, 2016

Contact: Michael Robinson, (575) 313-7017, michaelr@biologicaldiversity.org

Study: Government Wolf-killing Reduces Tolerance, Spurs Wolf-poaching

SILVER CITY, N.M.— A study published today of the proportion of wolves that went missing in Wisconsin and Michigan over the course of 18 years shows that when “culling” of wolves was permitted, poaching of wolves increased as well; when wolves were protected from culling, poaching decreased. The study accounted for other reasons that wolves might have gone missing to identify patterns in illegal killing of wolves.

The analysis was conducted by independent researchers Adrian Treves and Guillaume Chapron, associate professors at, respectively, the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. It showed that as wolves received or lost protections through various policy changes intended to either protect or cull them, the “policy signal” sent to the public resulted in four times more wolves being illegally killed during periods when those policies seemingly devalued wolves. The finding undermines assertions by many government officials and opponents of wolf protection that culling of wolves is necessary to mollify the segment of the population that might otherwise poach the animals.

“This paper disproves a convenient myth used to rationalize government persecution of wolves,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “We hear over and over that individual wolves have to die in order to placate a wolf-hating public and prevent illegal killing — but this shows that to decrease poaching, the government should send the message that wolves have a high public value.”

The study spanning the years 1994 to 2012 is the first to test as a hypothesis a widely held assumption that sanctioned wolf-killing decreases illegal wolf-killing.

“This important study should trigger more humane, science-based management of wolves,” said Robinson.

The study, titled Blood does not buy goodwill: allowing culling increases poaching of a large carnivore was published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a peer-reviewed scientific journal

4 thoughts on “Study: Government Wolf-killing Reduces Tolerance, Spurs Wolf-poaching

  1. Killing wolves to “placate” an irrational, wolf-hating public? Going by that “logic,” the killing will never stop since people have been demonizing and hating wolves, as well as killing them, for centuries.

    How about trying something different, such as not catering to the haters and those who profit from that hate. Stop allowing ranchers grazing rights to public lands near wilderness areas. Stop listening to the demands of hunters, gun manufacturers, and outdoor sports equipment manufacturers. Stop the state departments of fish and wildlife from making money selling hunting licenses.

    Start making poaching a real crime worthy of real punishment. If poachers had to lose their jobs to do jail time and take out a second mortgage or lose their homes to pay fines, poaching would not be so tempting.

    But, hey, all that would upset the money makers who are driving all the killing and culling of not only wolves but bison, cougars, and “trash” animals as well. As long as they’re in control, the body count goes up.

    • I know. This seems rather obvious, giving carte blanche to killing wildlife would increase wolf deaths, but I guess not. Hunters did not keep their side of the bargain and can’t even leave the boundaries of the Parks alone (as anyone with any sense would have known ahead of time), and until there’s some way to reverse what was done by rider, the body counts will continually creep upwards.

      I sincerely hope we are not dumb enough to allow it to happen to an even more sensitive population of grizzly bears, who reproduce at a low rate to begin with. I don’t understand this logic of delisting an already ‘isolated population’?

  2. Yes, a generalized hunting season (and they would like two, spring and fall!) is not necessary. Delisting, if the grizzlies have recovered, is one thing – and if there are ‘problem’ bears, perhaps individual instances should be addressed. I fail to see how generalized hunting benefits the species, only trophy hunters – and does not guarantee less livestock depredations or other conflict. I can hardly wait for the tri-state hunting plan to be out and ‘scrutinized’.

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