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The Need for Predator Management in Conservation of Some Vulnerable Species

Anne Hecht

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Weir Hill Road, Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776;

Paul R. Nickerson

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, Massachusetts 01035 ;


Predator management is often controversial, and public understanding of why it is a necessary component of protection for some threatened, endangered, and other rare species is generally poor. Habitat fragmentation and other landscape-level changes have increased rates of predation of some species far above natural levels. Small or reduced populations may also be unable to withstand natural fluctuations in survival and productivity, including those caused by predation. Some critics of predator management advocate restricting its use to situations in which all other protection strategies have failed, but this approach may carry severe risks for many imperiled species. The best predator management strategy is often an adaptive approach that monitors as many factors as possible, considers a full range of management techniques, continually appraises their effectiveness, and makes appropriate adjustments. There is an important need for natural resource managers and interpreters to educate the public about this complex issue that affects conservation efforts for many vulnerable species.

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