Date of this Version
VerCauteren, K., D. Hirchert, and S. Hygnstrom. 2018. State management of human-wildlife conflicts. pgs. 161-175. In T. Ryder, editor. State Wildlife Management and Conservation. Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, MD. 238 pp.
Many positive experiences are associated with wildlife, from passively watching animals in our backyards to actively hunting in publicly owned forests. Unfortunately, wildlife can be a double- edged sword. Human– wildlife conflicts are pervasive in society, and nearly all segments—wealthy and in need, urban and rural, east and west—can experience problems with wildlife. Agricultural producers lose an estimated $45 billion each year as a result of crop and livestock damage caused by big game, predators, waterfowl, and other wildlife species (Conover 2002). Row crops, forages, rangeland, fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, turf, and livestock are susceptible to damage by wildlife at various stages of production. Inhabitants of urban/suburban areas endure significant damage and nuisance problems caused by bears, deer, raccoons, squirrels, pigeons, rabbits, skunks, snakes, and others. In addition, over 75,000 people are injured annually or become ill as a result of wildlife- related incidents, at costs well exceeding $10 billion annually (Conover 2002). Coexistence with wildlife is a balancing act of dealing with their positive and negative impacts. Many state wildlife agencies have taken on the responsibility of reducing these negative impacts for the betterment of society. Wildlife damage management (WDM) is an increasingly important part of the wildlife profession because of expanding human populations and intensified land- use practices. Concurrent with this growing need to reduce human– wildlife conflicts, public attitudes and environmental regulations are restricting use of some traditional control tools, such as toxicants and traps. Agencies and individuals carrying out control programs are being scrutinized more carefully to ensure that their actions are justified, environmentally safe, humane, and in the public interest. Thus, WDM activities must be based on sound economic, scientific, and sociological principles and carried out as positive, necessary components of overall wildlife management programs.