Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 11, 2016

Contact: Michael Robinson, (575) 313-7017,

Study: Government Wolf-killing Reduces Tolerance, Spurs Wolf-poaching

SILVER CITY, N.M.— A study published today of the proportion of wolves that went missing in Wisconsin and Michigan over the course of 18 years shows that when “culling” of wolves was permitted, poaching of wolves increased as well; when wolves were protected from culling, poaching decreased. The study accounted for other reasons that wolves might have gone missing to identify patterns in illegal killing of wolves.

The analysis was conducted by independent researchers Adrian Treves and Guillaume Chapron, associate professors at, respectively, the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. It showed that as wolves received or lost protections through various policy changes intended to either protect or cull them, the “policy signal” sent to the public resulted in four times more wolves being illegally killed during periods when those policies seemingly devalued wolves. The finding undermines assertions by many government officials and opponents of wolf protection that culling of wolves is necessary to mollify the segment of the population that might otherwise poach the animals.

“This paper disproves a convenient myth used to rationalize government persecution of wolves,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “We hear over and over that individual wolves have to die in order to placate a wolf-hating public and prevent illegal killing — but this shows that to decrease poaching, the government should send the message that wolves have a high public value.”

The study spanning the years 1994 to 2012 is the first to test as a hypothesis a widely held assumption that sanctioned wolf-killing decreases illegal wolf-killing.

“This important study should trigger more humane, science-based management of wolves,” said Robinson.

The study, titled Blood does not buy goodwill: allowing culling increases poaching of a large carnivore was published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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