A study titled recently published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B threatens to overturn previously-entrenched theories that purport that culling wolves reduces poaching.
The long-held theory holds that legalizing hunting helps to reduce resentment among landowners, and ultimately decreases poaching, as the New York Times writes. But the authors of the new study (entitled Blood does not buy goodwill: allowing culling increases poaching of a large carnivore) say that their findings are the first to offer quantitative evidence that government authorization of legal killing of wolves appears to increase illegal killing.
Poaching and government initiatives to deter it have been in the spotlight recently in Kenya, where President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the burning of 100 tons of ivory illegally poached from Kenyan elephants and rhinos. (Blouin News editor Erin Wright examined how some conservationists praised the effort, while some environmentalists said it will drive poachers to increase their efforts because the market for ivory still exists, even if it’s a black one.)
This recent study, conducted in the U.S., shows that when states allowed the culling of wolves suspected to have damaged property or threatened pets or humans, poaching increased. The findings could have an effect on conservation efforts and pending federal proposals to remove the Yellowstone grizzly bear from protection under the Endangered Species Act. They could also have an effect on further research into international rules about animal culling, and previous beliefs regarding the benefit culling has on the environment and various industries.