Of course, this is going to make going for a walk in the woods, or a swim in the river, more interesting but if humans stop killing large predators then large predators recolonise their old hunting grounds. Including, presumably, the occasional hunt of hairless apes like ourselves:
In the victories of animal populations, large predators are becoming more and more prevalent in places where people think that they should not be ‘places’.
This is mainly due to the protection of species and the protection of species once the prey is on the verge of extinction.
Well, given that the major predator – other than food supply not that that’s really predation – upon such animals is us, if we stop killing them then there’ll be more around. Seems simple enough:
A paper published Monday in the journal Current Biology sheds light on large predators in various parts of the world moving into habitats they had once occupied, before human activity pushed them into small geographical areas and drove them to near-extinction. But it may be somewhat premature to celebrate this development as a definite conservation success.
Well, no, I don’t think it is premature really.
It finds that, rather than venturing into new and alien habitats for the first time, alligators, sea otters and many other large predators — marine and terrestrial species alike — are re-colonizing ecosystems that used to be prime hunting grounds for them before humans decimated their populations and well before scientists started studying them.
“We can no longer chock up a large alligator on a beach or coral reef as an aberrant sighting,” said Brian Silliman, Rachel Carson Associate Professor of Marine Conservation Biology at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. “It’s not an outlier or short-term blip. It’s the old norm, the way it used to be before we pushed these species onto their last legs in hard-to-reach refuges. Now, they are returning.”
Those of us who would gasp in awe at them should welcome this. At, true, the possible expense of a few who gasp in ow as they’re eaten but then everything has costs.
As to why it’s really happening, industrial farming. The human population continues to increase, even as we get close to Peak Human (expected perhaps around 2070 at current rates). So we might be assuming that we need ever more farmland. Which isn’t quite the case.
In fact, it’s definitely not the case. We’re both using the more fertile land to farm out there – one thing global trade does is allow us to do so and retire marginally productive land from farming – and also farming it better. Organic farming, for example, needs more land per unit of output. That industrial farming, pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers, GMOs and all, allows us to use less land to grow the food we desire. Leaving, therefore, more land for nature and those predators that feed off it.
That the major beasties are returning across their historical ranges is a triumph of that modern and chemical laden farming. It’s actually one of the major arguments in favour of it.
Huzzah therefore, the otters, alligators, killer whales, bears and wolves, they’re being saved by Roundup.