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Classroom Resources: Us or Them

By William Stolzenburg
October-December 2006 (Vol. 7, No. 4)

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Discussion Questions

  1. The author states: “…to the conservation biologist, it is an embarrassing contradiction between science and practice.” What, exactly, is the contradiction he refers to?
  2. If the scientific perspective on predator control has stayed essentially the same for over four decades, what is the role of conservation scientists in affecting this public policy? Are there ways that scientists could more effectively make their voices heard?
  3. What does the author mean by “the sledgehammer philosophy”? Does this seem an apt metaphor to you?
  4. The author summarizes the conclusions of the researchers at the University of California’s Hopland center as: “randomly slaughtering a bunch of coyotes to protect a flock of sheep was as effective as killing no coyotes at all.” What is this based upon? What does this suggest about the relationship between livestock management and predator control?
  5. What is the connection between loss of native plant species in Wisconsin, population fluctuations of kelp in the Aleutian Islands, and renewal of willow stands in Yellowstone National Park?

Websites for Further Information

  • USDA APHIS Wildlife Services:

Peer-reviewed Literature

  • Ripple W.J. and R.L. Beschta. 2004. Wolves and the ecology of fear: Can predation risk structure ecosystems? BioScience 54:755-766.
  • Ripple, W.J. and R.L. Beschta. 2004. Wolves, elk, willows, and trophic cascades in the upper Gallatin Range of southwestern Montana, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 200: 161-181.

Key Concepts

  • Predator Control
  • Wildlife Management
  • The Leopold Report
  • Trophic Cascades
  • Keystone Species
  • Mesopredator Release
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