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  • Cited by 43
  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: November 2009

4 - Non-lethal techniques for reducing depredation



Ever since humans domesticated the first animals several thousand years ago, there have been conflicts with large carnivores attacking livestock (Kruuk 2002). Every year, thousands of cattle, sheep, goats, poultry or farmed fish are killed by wild carnivores worldwide (Thirgood et al., Chapter 2) (Table 4.1). The farmers, in turn, kill the predators. Lethal control of stock-raiders is common in all cultures and has a devastating impact on many populations of large carnivores (Woodroffe et al., Chapter 1). Retaliatory killing was the most important reason for the historic eradication of large carnivores in large areas (Breitenmoser 1998). In addition to killing the predators, herdsmen have tried to protect their livestock, mainly because lethal control alone rarely reduced depredation to an acceptable level. For a traditional society, the investment in terms of labour and resources for the protection of livestock was high (Kruuk 2002). Rural cultures have consequently adopted a combination of non-lethal measures, lethal control and – strongly varying between cultures – an acceptance of losses. The application of non-lethal techniques was mainly a matter of technology and of cost–benefit considerations. From the perspective of modern society, there are two more reasons to propagate preventive measures: conservation (lethal control threatens many carnivore populations), and ethical arguments (moral reservation against the killing of predators and against livestock being exposed to pain and suffering).

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