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Wolves make roadways safer, generating large economic returns to predator conservation

Jennifer Raynor, Corbett Grainger and Dominic Parker

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021, vol. 118, issue 22, e2023251118

Abstract: Recent studies uncover cascading ecological effects resulting from removing and reintroducing predators into a landscape, but little is known about effects on human lives and property. We quantify the effects of restoring wolf populations by evaluating their influence on deer–vehicle collisions (DVCs) in Wisconsin. We show that, for the average county, wolf entry reduced DVCs by 24%, yielding an economic benefit that is 63 times greater than the costs of verified wolf predation on livestock. Most of the reduction is due to a behavioral response of deer to wolves rather than through a deer population decline from wolf predation. This finding supports ecological research emphasizing the role of predators in creating a “landscape of fear.” It suggests wolves control economic damages from overabundant deer in ways that human deer hunters cannot.

Keywords: economic impact; trophic cascade; deer–vehicle collision; gray wolf ( Canis lupus ); white-tailed deer ( Odocoileus virginianus ) (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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