Best Practices for Reducing Human-Wildlife Conflict
An article that addresses best practices for promoting human-wildlife coexistence on shared landscapes has been published in the journal Conservation Letters.
The article, "Human Adaptation Strategies are Key to Co-benefits in Human-Wildlife Systems," was led by Alexander Killion, a PhD student in the Conservation and Coexistence research group at U-M’s School for Environment and Sustainability.
In the article, the authors write that humans and wildlife often detrimentally affect each other in landscapes that they share together. Large predators can eat livestock, for example, or people can kill wild animals to reduce these risks. Coexistence between humans and wildlife is therefore more likely when humans adapt to these risks in ways that lead to benefits for both humans and wildlife, rather than benefiting one group only. However, Killion notes, we lack a good understanding of how different social and ecological factors contribute to co-benefit outcomes, limiting opportunities to address local issues and scale up successful conservation actions.
"We performed the first global review of the human-wildlife interaction literature to assess which human adaptation strategies generated co-benefits and how stakeholder involvement and other context-specific conditions mediated those outcomes," says Killion, a conservation scientist who studies human-environment systems with an emphasis on sustainable development and wildlife conservation. "We found that active guarding, fencing, repellents, and socio-economic mechanisms consistently led to co-benefits across species and contexts. These interventions might therefore be the best candidates for scaling up coexistence from local to regional or national scales."
Surprisingly, Killion notes, stakeholder involvement was less consequential than other variables, yet overall played an important role in sustaining co-benefits regardless of adaptation strategy or social-ecological context. The article's authors highlight future research directions to help manage tradeoffs and achieve sustainable coexistence outcomes in shared landscapes.
"Finding ways to create co-benefits on shared landscapes has the potential to advance sustainable development goals," Killion says. "We found that human adaptations based on improving active guarding strategies were most likely to result in co-benefits. Adaptations based on improving responsible animal or crop production behavior are low-cost, easy to adopt, and have potential to provide the foundation for humans and wildlife to sustainably share landscapes around the world. These findings represent positive elements (or bright spots) of existing practices which support a good Anthropocene, as well as areas needing additional research."
"In this work we wanted to broaden how we define conservation success and help inform decisions that put us on a path toward coexistence in an increasingly crowded and complex world," says co-author and director of the Conservation and Coexistence research group, Dr. Neil Carter.
Since this was a global analysis, Killion notes that the authors' inferences are not intended to be used for making specific site recommendations, as each system can have a unique host of complex conditions. Instead, their work addressed the need to capture trends in efficacy that can be scaled to, and tested on, many different landscapes with similar characteristics. "Transdisciplinary planning efforts coupled with stakeholder-driven adaptations to anticipate and respond to change holds promise in promoting human-wildlife coexistence," Killion adds.
The article authors are Alexander K. Killion, Julianna M. Ramirez, and Neil H. Carter.