196 pages, no illustrations
The longest armed conflict carried out by the United States government, beginning in 1914, is our war with mammalian predators. The death toll is tremendous: federal agents kill ninety thousand wolves, bears, coyotes, and cougars every year. The paradox is that we need to safeguard ourselves and livestock from predators, while simultaneously preserving and protecting these key species – fundamental components of healthy ecosystems.
Shivik argues that we can end the war. By shifting away from "death from above" and embracing nonlethal approaches to managing wildlife – practices and technologies he has helped pioneer – we can dismantle the paradox, have both people and predators on the landscape, and ensure the long-term survival of both. Blending the science of the wild with entertaining and dramatic storytelling throughout, Shivik traces the culture of "good old boy" wildlife managers and observes the difference two cows can make to a widow rancher. Shivik's clear-eyed pragmatism allows him appeal to both sides of the debate, while arguing for the possibility of coexistence: between ranchers and environmentalists, wildlife managers and animal-welfare activists, and humans and animals.
"Shivik, one of the world's best practitioners and clearly among America's top thinkers on wildlife management, has produced a shocking yet remarkable read about the USA's tense relationship with wonderfully charismatic carnivores. For anyone interested in the present or past (or future) of how we treat wildlife – and, importantly, why – this is the book to read. It has balance, pizazz, and depth."
– Joel Berger, Craighead Chair of Wildlife Biology, University of Montana, and Senior Scientist , Wildlife Conservation Society, author of The Better to Eat You with: Fear in the Animal World
"Yellowstone National Park, with its coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, and black and grizzly bears, is 3 400 square miles of paradise for predators, but it is surrounded by reality. Dr. Shivik artfully blends facts, humor, and his vast personal experience into a thought-provoking read about the reality of living with large carnivores. He blends wildlife science with human and wildlife behavior to examine what coexisting with predators really means in a landscape that we live, work, and play in and raise our children, pets, and livestock. We need to hear his message. It is a well-written, pragmatic, and enjoyable book that I recommend to anyone interested in conservation of human lifestyles, nature, and wildlife."
– Edward Bangs, Wolf Recovery Coordinator, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (retired)
"Modern Americans haven't figured out how to coexist with the resurgent wild populations in our midst, especially dangerous predators. Kill 'em all, say ranchers and farmers whose economics and mindsets can't tolerate predator-killed sheep. Save 'em all, say denatured suburbanites who get their natural worlds on digital screens. Threading the middle of this partisan divide is John Shivik and fellow wildlife biologists, often demonized by both sides, who are trying to solve the predator paradox: how to preserve predators and save people and their endeavors from them."
– Jim Sterba, author of Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds
"This book is for anyone who hates predators, loves predators, or is curious about predators. Dr. Shivik, an expert in predator ecology and management, has woven together an even-handed portrayal of human-wildlife conflicts and a fascinating overview of key behavioral studies along with wonderful sketches of the researchers who are facing this paradox head-on. I expect this beautifully written narrative will increase public awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the wild creatures that share our world – and of the people who work on their behalf."
– Winifred B. Kessler, PhD, 2012-13 President of the Wildlife Society
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John Shivik is a recognized leader in nonlethal techniques for predator management. As a federal and university researcher, he has investigated mammalian predators in ecological systems throughout the United States and Europe. His numerous scientific works have been published in the Journal of Wildlife Management, Conservation Biology, and BioScience, among others. He lives in Logan, Utah.