With growing pressure for conservation to pay its way, the merits of compensation for wildlife damage must be understood in diverse socio-ecological settings. Here we compare compensation programs in Wisconsin, USA and Solapur, India, where wolves ( Canis lupus ) survive in landscapes dominated by agriculture and pasture. At both sites, rural citizens were especially negative toward wolves, even though other wild species caused more damage. Wisconsin and Solapur differ in payment rules and funding sources, which reflect distinct conservation and social goals. In Wisconsin, as wolves recolonized the state, some periodically preyed on livestock and hunting dogs. Ranchers and some hunters were more likely to oppose wolves than were other citizens. The Wisconsin compensation program aimed to restore an iconic species by using voluntary contributions from wolf advocates to pay affected individuals more for wolf losses than for other species. By contrast, wolves had been continuously present in Solapur, and damages were distributed amongst the general populace. Government-supported compensation payments were on offer to anyone suffering losses, yet claims registered were low. There were no significant differences in attitudes of any particular segment of the population, but those losing high value livestock applied for compensation. Residents at both sites did not report (Wisconsin) or expect (Solapur) a change in attitude towards wolves as a result of compensation, yet they support the existence of such programs. To assess the merits of any compensation program, one must disentangle the multiple goals of compensation, such as reducing wolf killing or more fairly sharing the costs of conserving large carnivores.
Biological Conservation – Elsevier
Published: Dec 1, 2010
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