Trophy hunting of cougars may increase cougar-human conflict, study finds

New study shows trophy hunting in BC is linked to human conflicts


Published on: October 24, 2016 | Last Updated: October 24, 2016 3:57 PM PDT

Cougar trophy hunting in B.C. is linked to human conflicts, according to a study published Monday.

After examining 30 years of data on human-caused cougar kills in five regions of B.C. – the Cariboo, Kootenay, Lower Mainland Southwest, Thompson Okanagan and Vancouver Island – researchers found that when trophy hunters killed a larger adult male the younger “sub-adults” or “teenagers” became more prone to human conflict.

“In all of the regions there was a positive relationship between trophy hunting and male cougar human conflict,” said study co-author Kristine Teichman (UBC).

“We can infer from other studies that when trophy hunters take out the strongest male cougar you have more dispersal of younger males. It creates an opening and what happens is these teenagers are moving around and getting into more conflict. In the wild it’s all about survival and reproduction and these younger ones have to find a place so they’re on the move. The older adults have already established their territory and know what places to avoid.”

Teichman said younger cougars are also not as skilled hunters as the older males and can get into conflict with humans by attacking livestock, for instance.
Ministry of Environment data showed that between 1979 and 2008 there were 8,788 recorded cougar deaths related to hunting (7,550) and human conflict (1,238). The number of trophy hunters during that time, including both B.C. residents and non-residents, was 3,219.

“With expanding human populations and influence, conflict between carnivores and humans is expected to increase, which requires evidence-informed approaches to conflict mitigation,” the report states.

“Wildlife managers often prescribe hunting of carnivores to reduce competition with hunters for prey and to minimize conflicts with humans and their property. However, we showed that overall increased human hunting in fact can be associated with increased conflict, especially for males … we caution against the universal use of hunting as a tool for managing conflict with large predators.”

The research, published Monday in the BMC Ecology journal, was also conducted by researchers from the University of Victoria, and the University of Cape Town as well as the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

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