Sunday, December 10, 2023

New study calls into question wolves’ big/bad reputation

A new study by Jennifer Raynor, a natural resource economist at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and her colleagues, suggests that wild wolves in Wisconsin are helping save human lives and billions of dollars in damages by reducing the number of collisions between cars and deer. More than one million car-deer collisions occur in the U.S. every year causing many injuries and deaths, and with an associated cost of about 10 billion U.S. dollars, according to the researchers. Wolves were eradicated from most of the United States by the 1960s thanks to an aggressive bounty program. A small population that survived in northern Minnesota gave rise to the current population of 1,200 wolves found in Wisconsin today. Wolves hunt the state’s 1.6 million deer and preferentially use open space like roads and trails to move efficiently. When wolves are present in these areas the deer retreat to forests. Over 22 years, Raynor found an average of just under 20,000 collisions per year, which includes nearly 500 injuries to humans and 8 deaths. The number of collisions has decreased by 24 percent in recent years in areas in counties in which wolves moved in, CBC reports.

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