Wildlife Services is back in the air - and in the news - killing more predators. This time, Idaho, along with us taxpayers, paid the secretive federal agency to gun down wolves from a helicopter in that state's remote Lolo region so that hunters would have more elk to shoot. Wildlife services also kills predators at the request of livestock producers.
Regardless of who foots the bill, Wildlife Services believes killing is efficient and inexpensive and nonlethal deterrents are inefficient and expensive. But is that view valid? A 2014 journal article compared the costs and benefits of lethal and nonlethal deterrents.
Researchers studied eleven livestock farms in South Africa, a country where the government encourages lethal control by trapping, poisoning, hounding, and hunting. Despite the use of lethal deterrents on predators, depredation - predators killing livestock - remains a problem. All the farms studied were commercial operations with predation from jackals, caracals (a long-legged cat), and leopards. Seven of the farms butted up to areas where predators were protected. (Reminiscent of ranches in the western US near federal lands.)