The costs and benefits of animal predation: An analysis of Scandinavian wolf re-colonization
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After coming close to extinction, the grey wolf (Canis lupus) has re-colonized Scandinavia during the last two decades. The current population numbers some 100–120 individuals, and is distributed in small packs along the Swedish–Norwegian border. However, with wolf re-colonization, several conflicts have arisen. One conflict is due to wolf predation on livestock, especially sheep and reindeer. Another is predation on wild ungulates. As the wolves have shown a strong preference for moose (Alces alces) in this respect, a smaller moose population is available for game hunting. The cost of increased moose predation by wolves is examined using a two-step process. First, we analyse the costs to landowners, comprising the loss of animals potentially available for hunting less the reduction in browsing damage associated with a smaller moose population. Second, we examine the problem from a broader point of view, where costs external to landowners and local communities are included. By far the most important cost here is damage related to collisions between moose and motor vehicles.