Reducing wildlife damage with cost-effective management programmes

Cheryl Krull, Margaret Stanley, Bruce Burns, David CHOQUENOT, Thomas Etherington

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    Limiting the impact of wildlife damage in a cost effective manner requires an understanding of how control Inputs change the occurrence of damage through their effect on animal density. Despite this, there are few studies linking wildlife management (control), with changes in animal abundance and prevailing levels of wildlife damage. We use the Impact and management of wild pigs as a case study to demonstrate this linkage. Ground disturbance by wild pigs has become a conservation issue of global concern because of Its potential effects on successlonal changes In vegetation structure and composition, habitat for other species, and functional soil properties. In this study, we used a 3-year pig control programme (ground hunting) undertaken in a temperate rainforest area of northern New Zealand to evaluate effects on pig abundance, and patterns and rates of ground disturbance and ground disturbance recovery and the cost effectiveness of differing control strategies. Control reduced pig densities by over a third of the estimated carrying capacity, but more than halved average prevailing ground disturbance. Rates of new ground disturbance accelerated with increasing pig density, while rates of ground disturbance recovery were not related to prevailing pig density. Stochastic simulation models based on the measured relationships between control, pig density and rate of ground disturbance and recovery Indicated that control could reduce ground disturbance substantially. However, the rate at which prevailing ground disturbance was reduced diminished rapidly as more Intense, and hence expensive, pig control regimes were simulated. The model produced In this study provides a framework that links conservation of indigenous ecological communities to control Inputs through the reduction of wildlife damage and suggests that managers should consider carefully the marginal cost of higher investment in wildlife damage control, relative to Its marginal conservation return.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0146765
    Pages (from-to)1-15
    Number of pages15
    JournalPLoS One
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


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