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

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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.

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Raynor, J. L., Grainger, C. A., & Parker, D. P. (2021). Wolves make roadways safer, generating large economic returns to predator conservation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(22). https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2023251118

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