Revealed: how to protect livestock from predators

19 September 2018
Three nonlethal methods are effective for protecting livestock from wildlife predators, new research reveals.

Published today in PLOS Biology, the review of 114 scientific studies measuring the effectiveness of lethal and non-lethal methods concluded that guardian dogs, livestock enclosures, and fladry are all effective deterrents.

Many other methods—both lethal and nonlethal—show promise but have not been studied in a scientifically defensible manner to determine if they are effective.

In addition to determining the effectiveness of three nonlethal tools, in this video the study authors say robust scientific research on carnivore management methods is urgently needed.

Too often our current practices are based on habit and history, not evidence.
Lily van Eeden, PhD candidate, University of Sydney.

“Too often our current practices are based on habit and history, not evidence,” said Lily van Eeden, a lead author of the study and PhD candidate at the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney.

“Continuing with ineffective management has social and financial costs for the rural communities who bear the impacts of predator attacks on their livelihoods,” she said.

In Australia, dingoes, cats, foxes and kangaroos are major predators of livestock, crops and native fauna.

Evidence of the effectiveness of a deterrent should be a mandatory prerequisite to large-scale funding, policy-making and implementation, say the authors.

The authors are also calling for a new coalition of scientists and managers to establish consistent standards for future research on method effectiveness.

Jennie Miller, a lead author of the study and senior scientist at Defenders of Wildlife said:

“Our study found that livestock guardian dogs, livestock enclosures, and fladry are scientifically-sound management tools, and these methods can be used and promoted as reliable methods for deterring predators and protecting livestock.

“However, many other interventions, including predator lethal control and translocation but also newer methods like range riders and light-sound devices, need to be further tested to ensure they are effective before being recommended for widespread use.”

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