Due primarily to wolf predation on livestock (depredation), some groups oppose wolf (Canis lupus) conservation, which is an objective for large sectors of the public. Prof. Musiani's talk will compare wolf depredation of sheep in Southern Europe to wolf depredation of beef cattle in the US and Canada, taking into account the differences in social and economic contexts. It will detail where and when wolf attacks happen, and what environmental factors promote such attacks.
Livestock depredation by wolves is a cost of wolf conservation borne by livestock producers, which creates conflict between producers, wolves and organizations involved in wolf conservation and management. Compensation is the main tool used to mitigate the costs of depredation, but this tool may be limited at improving tolerance for wolves. In poorer countries compensation funds might not be available. Other lethal and nonlethal tools used to manage the problem will also be analysed. Wolf depredation may be a small economic cost to the industry, although it may be a significant cost to affected producers as these costs are not equitably distributed across the industry.
Prof. Musiani maintains that conservation groups should consider the potential consequences of all of these ecological and economic trends. Specifically, declining sheep or cattle price and the steady increase in land price might induce conversion of agricultural land to rural-residential developments, which could negatively impact the whole environment via large scale habitat change and increased human presence.
Marco Musiani is a Professor in the Dept. of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Calgary. He also has a Joint Appointment with the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Calgary. His lab has a strong focus on landscape ecology, molecular ecology, and wildlife conservation.
Marco is Principal Investigator on projects on caribou, elk, moose, wolves, grizzlies and other wildlife species throughout the Rocky Mountains and Foothills regions of Canada. All such projects are run together with graduate students and have applications towards impact assessment, mainly of human infrastructure.
His focus is on academic matters. However, he also serves as reviewer for research and management projects, and acted as a consultant for the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (working on conflicts with wolves).
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This event is organized in collaboration with the Consulate General of Italy in Vancouver to celebrate the Italian Research in the World Day, instituted starting in 2018 as part of the Piano Straordinario "Vivere all'Italiana" - Giornata della ricerca Italiana nel mondo.
The establishment of an Italian Research Day in the World was announced by the Italian Minister of Education, University and Research, Valeria Fedeli, during a visit to the CERN Laboratories in Geneva. The celebration day was chosen by government decree to be every year on April 15 on the anniversary of the birth of Leonardo da Vinci.
The main objective of the Italian Research Day in the World is to value the quality and competencies of Italian researchers abroad, but also to promote concrete actions and investments to allow Italian researchers to continue pursuing their careers in their homeland. Italy wishes to enable Italian talents to return from abroad as well as to become an attractive environment for foreign researchers.
April 14, 2021 at 7:00 PM
Online Event - Register to Receive the Stream Link
Professor Musiani gave a talk about ways to manage depredation of livestock by wolves. Wolves are distributed in the northern hemisphere, in both Europe, Asia, and North America. Wolves will prey on available livestock, which creates a conflict between wolves and livestock producers. This conflict translates into a conflict between livestock producers, usually living in a rural setting, and animal preservation activists, usually based in urban settings. Science has attempted to defuse this conflict by trying to find ways to minimize depredation without doing harm to wolves. Multiple factors favour non-lethal solutions: overall losses of livestock do not exceed one percent, wolves increase biodiversity by curbing other animal populations which if unchecked may over graze, and wolves promote tourism.
One way to apply scientific methods is by analysing patterns of depredation using linear regression. It was found that attacks on livestock were most frequent on flatter areas near forested areas. Forested areas tend to have more natural prey, which attracts more wolves, which then turn on livestock kept nearby. Studies have also shown that depredation occurs in three cycles per year, high-medium-low. Not surprisingly, research has shown that free range livestock are more vulnerable than livestock penned behind a fence.
Prop. Musioni did a study in Serbia, found there were a number of ways livestock producers resorted to protect themselves from losses due to depredation:
Fladry then has the potential to be an effective and inexpensive way to manage losses of livestock without the need to doing harm to wolves. No one knows why it works. Experience shows that fladry strips have to be hung at the right height, which works to about 50 cm. If the fladry strips are hung lower wolves will jump over the “fence” and they are hung higher wolves will crawl under the strips. It was thought that wolves eventually may learn to deal with fladry, but a conclusive experiment could not be carried because it had to be interrupted.
- Compensation. Unlike North America, where 100 percent compensation is standard, the Serbian national government provided no compensation, so locals had set up a fund.
- Human watch proved very effective, though it involved a lifestyle fully integrated with livestock. It was noted that this was made harder by the fact that the most productive generation, adults in their working age, had migrated to cities.
- Guard dogs were found to be effective if not chained or socialized to be domestic animals.
- Fencing worked if there fences higher than 3 metres, since wolves will not jump over that height.
- Fladry: this word of Polish origin denotes a colored strip hanging from a wire. Wolves are deterred from approaching and going through a row of such hanging strips. Surrounding livestock with a “fence” made of these strips proved highly effective, to the point that wolves moved to another livestock.