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Predation management is a controversial and often misunderstood reality of livestock management. Few on either side of the argument would believe that some sort of management is not necessary to limit livestock losses. Opposition to the lethal removal of predators characterizes most debates. While most of the opposition reflects a moral opinion about the manner in which people relate to the natural world, opponents of lethal control often argue that control is not economically justified.
Simple economic justification would require that benefits of predation management outweigh the costs. If the only goal of predation management were to be economically efficient, minimization of costs would be one of the primary objectives; however, current predation management philosophies focus on minimum disruption to natural processes. These include focusing lethal management of offending individuals and populations, and using methods (such as aerial hunting) that are expensive but highly selective and humane. Boardman et al. (1996) discuss that the objective of minimizing costs is the same as maximizing net benefits. The costs of management, while important, play a minor role in the selection of management strategies.
Costs of management include direct expenditures by producers for management programs, governmental expenditures for management and compensation programs, producer and governmental costs associated with preventing predation, and societal values associated with the predators removed. Costs of predation management programs are usually easier to quantify, can have significant variance and typically are concentrated to a few individuals, while the benefits are dispersed among many. For this reason, the authors intend to focus on the benefits of predation management programs.