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The Economic Benefits Of Wolves


I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Jul 19, 2004
Out of Bounds
Newly published research indicates a wolf population provides a substantial net reduction in damages and expenses caused by deer.
Gray wolves scare deer from roads, reducing dangerous collisions

In Wisconsin counties with wolves, deer-car accidents dropped, saving millions of dollars

Gray wolves help keep North America’s deer populations in check, and by doing so, may provide an added benefit for people: curbing deer-vehicle collisions. In Wisconsin counties where wolf populations returned, the number of such collisions dropped in each area by 24 percent on average, scientists report online May 24 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Economist Jennifer Raynor and colleagues analyzed data on wolf populations, deer populations and deer-vehicle collisions for 63 counties in Wisconsin from 1988 to 2010. In the 29 counties that had wolves, the predators thinning deer populations contributed about a 6 percent reduction in deer-vehicle collisions. The rest of the decrease, the team proposes, was due to the wolves’ presence near roads, which they use as travel corridors, creating a so-called “landscape of fear” that keeps deer away. ...

The average drop of 38 deer-vehicle collisions per year in counties with wolves translates to an estimated $10.9 million in savings each year across the state, the team found. For comparison, the state paid about $3 million over the last 35 years to compensate for wolf damages. There may be other economic benefits not measured by the study such as reductions in damage to agriculture by deer and in Lyme disease frequency, says Raynor ...
FULL STORY: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/gray-wolves-scare-deer-roads-reduce-car-collisions
Here are the bibliographic details and abstract of the published study.

Wolves make roadways safer, generating large economic returns to predator conservation
Jennifer L. Raynor, Corbett A. Grainger, Dominic P. Parker
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Jun 2021, 118 (22) e2023251118
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2023251118

Recent studies uncover cascading ecological effects resulting from removing and reintroducing predators into a landscape, but little is known about effects on human lives and property. We quantify the effects of restoring wolf populations by evaluating their influence on deer–vehicle collisions (DVCs) in Wisconsin. We show that, for the average county, wolf entry reduced DVCs by 24%, yielding an economic benefit that is 63 times greater than the costs of verified wolf predation on livestock. Most of the reduction is due to a behavioral response of deer to wolves rather than through a deer population decline from wolf predation. This finding supports ecological research emphasizing the role of predators in creating a “landscape of fear.” It suggests wolves control economic damages from overabundant deer in ways that human deer hunters cannot.

SOURCE: https://www.pnas.org/content/118/22/e2023251118
... And the award for the most random thread title goes to!

Quite a feat on this forum. :D
Wolves eat deer!

Who`d a thought it?

Who was that researcher who claimed his wolves ate mostly mice and were no threat to the deer population?
Improving the ecological economy.

In 1997, a lone wolf crossed an ice bridge that briefly connected Canada with the remote Isle Royale, which lies off the coast of Michigan in Lake Superior and is renowned for its rich biodiversity.

His arrival revived the flagging fortunes of the wider wolf population, which had been hit by disease and inbreeding, and triggered cascading effects that improved the health of the overall forest ecosystem, a study in Science Advances showed Wednesday.

"Issues like inbreeding and low genetic diversity are an important concern for scientists," first author Sarah Hoy, an ecologist at Michigan Technological University told AFP.

"But this is the first study that shows when you have these genetic issues, they don't just impact the particular population and increase the risk that they will go extinct: they also have these really big knock on effects on all the other species."

Close up of young moose munching on branches amongst green foliage

Herbivores like Isle Royale's moose can over-brows the local flora unless something keeps their numbers in check. (Layne Kennedy/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images)

'Old Gray Guy'​

The first wolves arrived on the island in the late 1940s, and their main prey are moose – giving rise to the longest running study of a predator-prey system anywhere in the world.

But by the 1980s, the wolves were in trouble due to the arrival of canine parvovirus which drove their numbers down from a high of 50 to around 12.

Though the disease eventually disappeared, the population didn't recover right away. The reason was severe inbreeding, which caused lower reproductive success, as well as poorer health outcomes such as spinal deformities of the kind often seen in purebred dogs.

"If you're a wild wolf and you're having to take down prey like a moose that's eight times your size, that can make life in the wild really tough for you," Hoy said.

Enter the immigrant, identified as "M93" by scientists, but affectionately nicknamed "The Old Gray Guy."

Wolves Win! (Wanderers take note.)

Switzerland's mountain farmers are disappointed and angry, because a cull of the country's wolves has been put on hold by the courts.

The farmers say the proposed cull was vital to protect livestock and, ultimately, the future of Alpine communities.

Environmental groups argued it went far further than the law allows and could decimate the wolf population.

The case is being watched closely by other European countries. Most, like Switzerland, class the wolf as a protected species, but many are also seeing wolf numbers rising, and concerns from farmers along with them.