Screen shot from a video explaining the results of a poaching study co-authored by Guillaume Chapron and Adrian Treves.
The findings of a new study co-authored by a UW-Madison researcher challenge the conventional wisdom that hunting is an effective tool for the conservation of predators. It could have implications for Wisconsin’s wolf hunt as well as wildlife management efforts around the world. The authors anticipate a backlash.
“We understand our results will be controversial because they challenge a dominant paradigm in wildlife conservation,” says Guillaume Chapron, a researcher in Sweden who teamed up with Adrian Treves of UW-Madison.
Treves adds that he expects resistance from people with a vested interest in the status quo, including scientists. “We know we are confronting the wildlife establishment but it is our duty to give the public our best scientific assessment of what happened to their wolves.”
Chapron and Treves say they have conducted the first rigorous, quantitative test of the hypothesis that poaching — the illegal killing of predators — will decrease if government agents legally kill, or “cull,” the population.
They say their findings, which studied changes in wolf populations in Wisconsin and Michigan between 1995 and 2012 – when culling was first banned and then allowed and banned again, alternating a total of 12 times – showed just the opposite. “On the contrary, killing increases poaching,” says Treves.
Their article — “Blood Does Not Buy Goodwill: Allowing Culling Increases Poaching of a Large Carnivore” — was published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Chapron also created a short video to help explain the study’s methodology and implications to the general public.