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Journal Article

Forecasting Environmental Hazards and the Application of Risk Maps to Predator Attacks on Livestock

Adrian Treves, Kerry A. Martin, Adrian P. Wydeven and Jane E. Wiedenhoeft
Vol. 61, No. 6 (June 2011), pp. 451-458
DOI: 10.1525/bio.2011.61.6.7
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Page Count: 8
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Forecasting Environmental Hazards and the Application of Risk Maps to Predator Attacks on Livestock
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Environmental hazards are distributed in nonrandom patterns; therefore, many biologists work to predict future hazard locations from the locations of past incidents. Predictive spatial models, or risk maps, promise early warning and targeted prevention of nonnative species invasion, disease spread, or wildlife damage. The prevention of hazards safeguards both humans and native biodiversity, especially in the case of conflicts with top predators. Top predators play essential ecological roles and maintain biodiversity, but they can also threaten human life and livelihood, which leads people to eradicate predator populations. In the present article, we present a risk map for gray wolf (Canis lupus) attacks on livestock in Wisconsin between 1999 and 2006 that correctly identified risk in 88% of subsequent attack sites from 2007 to 2009. More-open habitats farther from any forest and closer to wolf pack ranges were the riskiest for livestock. Prediction promotes prevention. We recommend that the next generation of risk mappers employ several criteria for model selection, validate model predictions against data not used in model construction before publication, and integrate predictors from organismal biology alongside human and environmental predictors.

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