Living With Carnivores

Carnivores share some common characteristics (some they even share with us). Since they live at the top of the food chain, where meals are scarce, they have to live by their wits, always figuring out how to get the next bite to eat.

Carnivores are curious and adaptable. If there is a food opportunity, they will investigate — and they learn quickly. An easy meal, especially garbage, is a temptation nearly impossible to resist.

Many conflicts are due simply to improper storage of garbage, food leftovers, pet and animal foods. Simply feeding pets outdoors (on the porch) can lead to problems: small animals drawn to the leftovers can attract species intent on the concentration of prey animals. Bird and hummingbird feeders can attract bears. Unfortunately, these attractions can lead to conflicts that all too often lead to trouble and expense to the resident — and death for the wildlife involved.

Carnivore experts agree that the best way to prevent human/carnivore conflicts is to provide people with the information they need to prevent problems before they arise. Although their range has greatly decreased over the last 100 years, in many places carnivores are still a part of the landscape. In many cases, these adaptive animals have learned to adjust to human presence and can live quite well with their human neighbors — if we take a little time and effort to learn to live with them.

Wolves – A Misunderstood Animal

Since pre-Roman times, the wolf has unjustly served as a symbol for evil and aggressiveness. This is the animal of myth and folklore, such as can be found in Little Red Riding Hood. In reality, wolves possess an innate fear of the human species, and are extremely difficult to see in the wild. A wolf is much more likely to observe and hide from humans than vice versa. Individuals have little reason to hide from a wolf (which they will be unlikely to see anyway.)

While people have long imparted wolves with the very worst – and at times the very best – of human traits, wolves have simply and instinctively been performing their biological role as a keystone species. This apex predator is critical to the maintenance of a balanced and healthy ecosystem.