Tiger attacks trigger expert plea
|April 3, 2009||Posted by Jeffery J. Smith under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Tiger attacks trigger expert plea
Urban coyote attacks on rise
Can humans live with other big predators? We trim, blend, and append three 2009 articles from: (1) the BBC, Apr 1, on tigers by Lucy Williamson; (2) the BBC, Feb 25, on tiger defenders; and (3) the AP, Mar 29, on coyotes by Judith Kohler.
by Lucy Williamson, by BBC, and by Judith Kohler
- The hunt for Sumatra’s killer tigers
In Indonesias Jambi province, Sumatra, tigers are killing people as their forests disappear under loggers’ saws or to make way for plantations. So endangered tigers are turning to humans for food.
At the site of one fatal attack are the signs of illegal loggers — piles of wood, neatly stacked in a small clearing.
Forest rangers have gone from chasing illegal loggers to catching the tigers who are killing them.
There could be only 250 tigers left here; Sumatra’s forest is now so depleted it barely supports even these few.
Indonesia has regulations to protect the tigers’ habitat but enforcing them is difficult. The forests timber and paper and palm oil are lucrative exports.
JJS: Do global consumers need so much or only those kinds? That is, how much timber and paper get wasted? If we recycled, how much would be needed? And are there really no alternatives to palm oil? When the ozone hole forced us to quit using CFCs, we quickly turned to a substitute.
So if demand for forest products were to fall, Indonesia could turn to eco-tourism. All economies must become sustainable sooner or later anyway.
- Tiger attacks trigger expert plea
After six people were killed by Sumatra tigers in less than a month, conservationists have urged Indonesia to halt illegal deforestation. The international group WWF said Sumatra in 20 years has lost half its forest.
In neighboring Riau province recently, villagers killed three young tigers of this critically endangered sub-species.
There are estimated to be fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild.
JJS: Conservations need to advance beyond the just say no approach and deal with human nature. There is no political solution — only economic. That is, as long as people are hungry, no law will stop them from encroaching on another species habitat. For humans to leave vast tracts untouched, they need to prosper. Not only do prosperous people breed less, but prosperous economies also offer jobs and business niches that use less nature.
This human-wildlife confrontation is not confined to less developed countries. Its happening everywhere.
- Urban coyote attacks on rise
Since December, four people in the Denver area have been bitten by coyotes. A fifth told police a coyote lunged at him.
State wildlife officers have killed seven coyotes. An eighth was killed by a sharpshooter hired by Greenwood Village, in Denver’s southern suburbs.
“These are coyotes that were born and raised in the ‘hood,” said Liza Hunholz, an area manager with the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
In Greenwood Village last year, police received 186 reports of coyote sightings. Already this year, there have been 142.
Coyotes once were found primarily on the Great Plains and in the Southwest, but have expanded to most of North America as populations of wolves, a fierce competitor, have shrunk.
Thanks to suburban sprawl reducing habitat and a growth in numbers of both people and animals, coyotes have adapted to urban landscapes.
In California’s San Bernardino County, two toddlers were injured in separate coyote incidents last year. One toddler was killed in California in the 1980s in the country’s only known fatal coyote attack.
In New York City last year, a coyote pup was found in the Bronx. In 2006 police captured a coyote in Central Park. In 2007 a coyote walked into a Chicago deli.
But most coyotes avoid people, said Stan Gehrt of Ohio State University’s School of Environment and Natural Resources. In Chicago Gehrt has radio-collared about 300 coyotes. One has a hiding spot near the downtown post office and thousands of people pass within yards of it each day.
Coyotes haven’t changed their diet. Gehrt expected to find urban coyotes eating a lot of garbage and pets. But their scat shows rodents are still the meal of choice, followed by deer, rabbits and birds.
Coyotes view cats and dogs as competitors, not food, Gehrt said. Most coyotes are submissive toward dogs, though some stand their ground — especially during breeding season, when they may see dogs as rivals for mates. Mating season peaked in February, when some of the Denver-area incidents occurred.
Relocation doesn’t work, Gehrt said. Coyotes moved from Chicago to the country headed back to the city.
In 2007 to stem livestock attacks, the USDA killed more than 90,000 coyotes. But reducing their number doesn’t work, said Nicole Rosmarino of WildEarth Guardians. When their population declines, the animals have bigger litters.
JJS: Note humans have smaller litters and settle land efficiently, leaving some for others, when they live under economic justice, something geonomics — the recovery and sharing of location values instead of the usual taxing and subsidizing — delivers.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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