Does Sex Matter? Temporal and Spatial Patterns of Cougar-Human Conflict in British Columbia
Teichman, Cristescu, and Nielsen (2013)
Abstract: "Wildlife-human conflicts occur wherever large carnivores overlap human inhabited areas. Conflict mitigation can be facilitated by understanding long-term dynamics and examining sex-structured conflict patterns. Predicting areas with high probability of conflict helps focus management strategies in order to proactively decrease carnivore mortality. We investigated the importance of cougar (Puma concolor) habitat, human landscape characteristics and the combination of habitat and human features on the temporal and spatial patterns of cougar-human conflicts in British Columbia. Conflicts (n = 1,727; 1978–2007) involved similar numbers of male and female cougars with conflict rate decreasing over the past decade. Conflicts were concentrated within the southern part of the province with the most conflicts per unit area occurring on Vancouver Island. For both sexes, the most supported spatial models for the most recent (1998–2007) conflicts contained both human and habitat variables. Conflicts were more likely to occur close to roads, at intermediate elevations and far from the northern edge of the cougar distribution range in British Columbia. Male cougar conflicts were more likely to occur in areas of intermediate human density. Unlike cougar conflicts in other regions, cattle density was not a significant predictor of conflict location. With human populations expanding, conflicts are expected to increase. Conservation tools, such as the maps predicting conflict hotspots from this study, can help focus management efforts to decrease carnivore-human conflict."