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The Predator Paradox: Ending the War With Wolves, Bears, Cougars, and Coyotes

Shivik, John A. 2014. The predator paradox: ending the war with wolves, bears, cougars, and coyotes. Beacon Press, Boston. 196 pp. Notes, Index. $20.00 US Soft cover.

In this work author, John Shivik, leads the reader through a discussion of the history of predator control, as well as experiments on animal behavior and explorations into alternate manners of preventing depredations caused by predators. He accomplishes this using anecdotes, stories and straightforward explanations of complex biological and social issues. He draws upon a wealth of data collected from around the country, focusing primarily on canids, but also discussing bears and cats.

The book is organized in two parts: The War, and Détente. In the first part Shivik discusses the problem of depredation, society’s traditional response, shortcomings of the war waged on predators, and the various misperceptions that have created impasses between the views of agriculturalists and those who value predators. In the second part, Shivik draws upon many experiments – many of which he and his graduate students have performed – designed to test alternates to the usual lethal approach to depredators. He dives into the complex array of individual animal behaviors, the frustrations of experiments gone awry, and the limitations of various traditional and novel approaches used to curtail depredations. He also discusses the social dimensions of depredations, frustrations that make the war on predators appealing, and the emotions on both sides that fuel the political debates on how best to handle acts of depredation.

The book is well written, well organized and accomplishes its goal of making the reader think more deeply of the issues surrounding the conundrum of maintaining healthy predator populations in the same spaces occupied by livestock. It is a must-read for those truly interested in the management of predator populations.