Fea­tured Let­ter

Australian Geographic - - You Say - DAVE KNIBB, SEATTLE, USA

Amanda Bur­don’s article about din­goes (AG 136) re­minds me of sim­i­lar is­sues we have faced in west­ern USA over wolves. Our state en­cour­ages ranch­ers to take non-lethal steps (such as range riders and guard dogs) to pro­tect live­stock. Con­ser­va­tion groups help pay for th­ese mea­sures, which have been largely suc­cess­ful. The ev­i­dence is in­com­plete, but wolves also seem more likely to prey on live­stock when the hi­er­ar­chy of their pack is dis­rupted by the loss of an al­pha mem­ber. Wolf-dog hy­brids, which seem to lack some­thing in pack dis­ci­pline, are also harder on live­stock. On the other hand, the ev­i­dence is very clear that wolves help bio­di­ver­sity by keep­ing sec­ond-tier preda­tors, such as coy­otes and rac­coons, in check, and keep­ing her­bi­vores such as deer and elk on the move, so that they don’t hang around the streams and de­nude the ri­par­ian ar­eas.

Hav­ing also lived in the state of Queens­land, I recog­nise the big dif­fer­ences between US and Aus­tralian land­scapes, but I sus­pect that apex preda­tors such as the wolf and dingo be­have much the same ev­ery­where.

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