The controversy of reintroduced predators

Back in August, a rare female brown bear was sentenced to death by Italian authorities as it had been found guilty of attacking a number of people.  The final straw was when it seriously injured an elder;y man who was out walking his dog.  Was it right for the authorities to kill the bear?  I was interviewed the BBC to talk about the complications of introducing potentially-deadly predators into human-dominated landscapes.  You can read the full article here.

The big, bad wolf or the ecosystem architect?

Last week, whilst in the depths of a conference on illegal wildlife trade, I was contacted by BBC Radio 4 to do an interview on wolves.  It was not a good PR week for wolves - they had been blamed for the death of a British lady who was visiting Greece.  I tried to set the record straight on human-wolf conflict and was thrown a curveball question at the end on how to respond if you think a wolf might be stalking you!  You can hear the interview from 47:18 onwards here.

Quantity does not always mean quality

I'm excited to announce that our new journal article on qualitative methods for conservation has been published in Society & Natural Resources! Here we talk about the quantitative / qualitative divide in conservation and explain the importance of appreciating the benefits of qualitative studies when trying to understand complex, under-researched areas.

Most conservation studies are quantitative in nature. They use numbers, percentages, statistics and modelling to empirically test predefined hypotheses. Whilst there is merit in this approach when you already know a fair amount about a topic, it's unhelpful when studying a new subject - or when you want to challenge conventional thinking.

That's where qualitative methods come in

Qualitative methods are exploratory in nature, where the goal is dive deeply into a specific topic to garner as much information as possible about it. Hypotheses are not usually used here because the researcher doesn't want to start with a pre…

Here’s your chance to help reduce human-wildlife conflict!

Imagine you’re a Canadian living in the Arctic Circle. You’ve recently been told that polar bears have been spotted roaming around your town. You might now be quite scared to walk around your neighbourhood, especially at night on your own.

Polar bear investigates recently collapsed observation tower near Churchill, Canada © WWF-US / Elisabeth Kruger
But one day you’re round a friend’s house for dinner and stay later than expected. Your car’s broken down so you need to walk just five minutes down the road to your house. You chance it because you think “well it’s unlikely I’ll come face to face with a polar bear”.

Unfortunately, though, as climate change reduces polar bear habitat, we’re seeing more and more instances of polar bears roaming around villages in the Arctic looking for an easy meal.And what’s worse, this situation isn’t just limited to polar bears. Wild animals from around the world are finding themselves squeezed into smaller and smaller places as humans destroy their habitat…

New threat to jaguars in Bolivia: poisoning

I'm excited to announce that my first article in BBC Wildlife Magazine has been published!  It's in the June issue and talks about a new threat to jaguars in Bolivia: ranchers poisoning them.

Conservation Criminology: estimating wolf poaching intention

Finally, after 4 years of waiting, our book chapter on estimating intentions to poach wolves has been published! In Chapter 11 of the new book Conservation Criminology, we evaluate whether hunters and farmers who had come into contact with wolves had the ability and inclination to poach wolves. We find that hunters were more inclined to poach wolves than farmers, even though farmers may have suffered a loss of livestock to wolves. The reason for this is because farmers might not have had their gun with them or it had not been loaded when they had seen a wolf.

Our findings indicate the importance of understanding not just attitudes towards wolves as a way of estimating poaching intent, but also including a person's skill and opportunity to shoot a wolf. You might really hate wolves, but if you don't own a gun, or if you've left it at home when you chance upon a wolf, you might never get the opportunity to kill it.

Quit nature to save wolves and bears? There are better ways

My first New Scientist article was published yesterday! In it, I talk about new research out by Jeremey Bruskotter and colleagues on how modernisation could have helped large carnivores repopulate in western countries. As people move out of the countryside to get a better life in the cities (higher pay, better education), a farmer's life of conflict with predators is left behind. This means people no longer dislike predators so don't want to kill them.