José Vicente López Bao, Juan de la Cierva postdoctoral researcher in the Biodiversity Research Unit of the University of Oviedo (UO-CSIC-PA)
Jens Frank de Grimsö, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences; Luis Llaneza, University of Santiago de Compostela; Vicente Palacios, University of Valencia; y Emilio J. García, doctoral student.
University of Oviedo
The survival of large carnivores like the wolf (‘Canis lupus’) in rural areas with intense agricultural and livestock activity, typical of European regions like the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, depends critically on human tolerance of livestock predation and effective prevention and/or compensation for damage to herds.
The frequency and cost of such damage depends, among other factors, on the situation of the livestock (value, density, protection and attack prevention measures) and wolf behavior (probability of attack in light of the characteristics of the livestock, and response to prevention measures). However, as there has been little research linking the conduct of wolves or other large carnivores to the deployment of conflict-mitigating mechanisms, we have no mechanistic assessments of the effectiveness of prevention measures.
In this project, we address the largely neglected behavioral component of the impact on wolves of attack prevention measures. For the first time, we will simultaneously study the behavior of wolves and guardian dogs (one of the oldest prevention methods, still in widespread use) to understand how wolves respond to this preventive measure and the possible variation factors in such response, how the dogs react when a wolf decides to approach a herd, and the dynamics of the wolf-dog interaction.
We will also calculate, from a multidisciplinary perspective, the real roll-out cost of this anti-wolf attack mechanism, compared to its potential benefits. Finally, farmers’ views on its use and effectiveness will be checked against its real effectiveness as garnered from data collected in the field (e.g., the frequency with which the dogs come into contact with wolves and ward off a possible attack).