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  • Writer's pictureLouisa Willcox

Episode 17 - Dr. Adrien Treves

Adrien Treves

Catch the latest show with Dr. Adrian Treves, an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Madison in Wisconsin! Adrian’s research focuses on finding a balance between human needs and those of large carnivores.

In his latest paper, he and his colleagues pointed out the shoddiness of research design being used today to justify killing of carnivores. Drawing from lessons learned from the bio-medical research community, authors applied a “gold standard” for scientific inference, in order to evaluate lethal and nonlethal efforts to reduce human and livestock conflicts. They found that no research done in the last 40 years met this rigorous test, and few met even the more relaxed “silver standard.” The majority of recent studies of lethal methods found no effect, or a counter productive effect of increased livestock loss from carnivore killing. This led to the authors to recommend a moratorium or a suspension of lethal methods until "gold standard" experiments are completed.


"We looked at all of the research published in peer reviewed journals from North America and Europe ever since such studies began to be published, so going back over 40 years -- and we were actually quite surprised at the fairly low level of standards of scientific evidence that had been published, and were therefore being used when governments promoted certain kinds of predator control methods."

"In fact, over all those years across two continents we only found two studies that met that "gold standard." Both were studies of non-lethal methods…That led me and my authors to recommend a moratorium or a suspension of lethal methods until the "gold standard" experiments are completed."

"And that’s because lethal methods are not just costly for taxpayers, but they may be wasting the livestock owner’s time and needlessly causing harm to carnivores and to livestock."

"It’s super important that the government is sending a positive signal about the role these organisms play in ecosystems and the many positive benefits that members of society derive from the existence of these animals, even if they never see them in the wild. We need people to value knowing that they exist."

"We surveyed over 2,500 residents of Wisconsin over the years and just saw steady decline in tolerance for wolves over time. Even though the government was culling wolves and saying that culling wolves would increase tolerance, we saw the opposite."

"There are certain groups in the status quo that think litigation is a "poison pill" but in fact it’s an arm of our democratic government, the balance of powers between the three branches of our government. The judiciary is sometimes the final defender of the constitution and defends minority interests against tyranny of the majority, so that’s one way that public and civilian action can manifest to help protect carnivores."

"And we’re seeing a slow revolution, a slow change to a more progressive way of conserving the biodiversity in North America that’s going to live up to the standards of the Public Trust Doctrine as I see it."



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