Issue Area

Carnivores and Coexistence

Overview

Carnivores play a critical role in balancing ecosystems. Carnivores can stabilize ecosystems by influencing the presence and diversity of plants and animals, limiting the spread of disease, and can even protect against climate change. However, carnivores in North America have been targeted since settlement by Europeans, and many species were hunted for bounties until the 1970s. In fact, bounties are still paid in a few states. With recent recognition of their benefits, movements to conserve or even reintroduce carnivores are gaining support. Despite this progress, some states still allow activities such as wildlife killing contests and recreationally running over animals with snowmobiles.

NCEL Point of Contact
Kate Burgess

Conservation Manager

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Key Facts

Carnivores help shape nearly every aspect of an ecosystem, from keeping prey populations balanced, to impacting plant growth and riparian river systems by dispersing herbivores and small carnivores, to reducing animal disease breakouts in ungulates and other animals.

Sixty-four percent of large terrestrial carnivores are threatened with extinction, and 80% have declining population trends. Large carnivores have lost 60% of their habitat in the last several centuries.

There is no scientific evidence that mass killing of predators serves to protect livestock.

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Resources

NCEL Resources

Online Resources

Statement in Opposition to US Predator Challenge

Statement signed by over 70 conservation scientists condemning coyote killing contests.

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Status and Ecological Effects of the World’s Largest Carnivores

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Coexistence Example

Example of a community coexisting with coyotes and living with coyotes flyer

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Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Tools for helping wolves and livestock coexist

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Highlighting Our Successes