Working Group Formed to Build Capacity for Science-Based Solutions to Carnivore Conflicts in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Nov. 10, 2014

Jeremy Bruskotter, associate professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources is chairing a new working group seeking to design and create scientific research aimed at managing large carnivore conflicts in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE).  

The working group (which was supported by an NSF-funded project through the University of Idaho) was formed to address the critical and persistent socio-ecological challenges in the mountain ecosystems of the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest necessitating science-based solutions.

In particular, Bruskotter notes, “There is ongoing social conflict over the conservation and management of large, terrestrial carnivores that consume both wild and domestic ungulates. The expansion of large carnivores at a time when the livestock-ranching industry has undergone economic decline has accentuated the conflict; and climate disruption and variability adds yet another dimension to an already-stressed system. At the same time, a controversial issue has emerged regarding the strength of “trophic cascades” caused by large carnivores, and the related perception of the ecological goods and services that large carnivores provide to the private sector.”  The confluence of these social and ecological stressors, along with uncertainties regarding the future ecological and economic conditions of the GYE, help perpetuate social conflict regarding the appropriate management of carnivore populations.

The working group (shown below), comprised of scientists and graduate students from universities across North America, along with representatives of federal land management agencies and non-governmental organizations, met in Yellowstone National Park for two days in early October 2014 to develop a road map for research and future funding opportunities. 

 
 

At the meeting working group members tackled a number of questions to help identify current impacts, issues and problems associated with large carnivores and to help develop a conceptual model of carnivore impacts, as well as identify gaps in knowledge or understanding of the issue.

The working group is currently at work on a conceptual paper aimed at re-envisioning carnivore-related conflict and co-existence on western landscapes.

 

Source:  Jeremy Bruskotter

Photography by Jeremy Bruskotter.