The Surprising Fallout From Trophy Hunting for Wolves and Bears

Richard Conniff

In this post at, author Richard Coniff  reports on a new study published in the journal Biological Conservation, by Norwegian scientists Ordiz, Bischof, and Swenson. Quotations below are from Coniff:

“A top predator that must constantly look over its shoulder for fear of human hunters, may not be a top predator any more.”

“….Even today, and even among people who may privately loathe the practice, trophy hunting of top predators can seem like a useful tool. The theory is that trophy fees—$10,000 for a lion, say—help pay to protect habitat and keep out poachers. These fees can also provide economic benefits to local communities. In theory, that increases tolerance among people who still live with large, dangerous animals outside their garden gates. Hunting some species may thus serve as the means to increase their numbers— killing predators in order to save them.”

“But a new study in the journal Biological Conservation asks whether what’s actually happening is the opposite: These methods may be saving large carnivores numerically, but altering their role as apex predators. A top predator that must constantly “look over its shoulder” for fear of human hunters, Andrés Ordiz and his co-authors suggest, may not be a top predator any more. And the effects of that subtle shift can reverberate through entire ecosystems.”

Read Coniff’s post here.

View the study online here

Download the study in PDF format here. (739k)