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The Green Thumb: Raven management

The cover of "Human-Wildlife Interactions" features a raven perched on a telephone pole.
Utah State University

A recent issue of "Human-Wildlife Interactions" published by Utah State University, explores the science realities and consequences of managing ravens and native North American species to ensure the conservation of other native species whose populations are in peril.

The author's university concluded that common ravens, as a generalist predator, pose a real threat to the continued existence of several rare native wildlife species in the western United States.

This threat has been magnified by recent increases in raven populations. Raven population increase had been fueled by increased human subsidies, notably food, water and nest sites.

This is particularly concerning to managers seeking to conserve rare air species. As human populations increase, so does the per capita demand for natural resources and with it the associated human subsidies.

Because managers face challenges in reducing or eliminating widespread subsidies, they increasingly rely on lethal removal of ravens. Lethal removal of ravens can enhance the reproduction of impacted rare species.

But lethal removal is a short-term solution to a problem that will continue to grow until human subsidies are addressed. Because ravens contract resources across wide landscapes, the removal of subsidies in one area can contribute to continental shifts and raven abundance, which may in turn impact other sensitive native wildlife species.

Ravens ultimately are doing just what they are programmed to do, that is survive. Managing ravens for conservation purposes will require new and innovative approaches, not just to reducing human subsidies that support ravens but to mitigate the impacts of growth on all native wildlife.

More information at .