Predation by large predators on livestock is one of the main concerns in species conservation as it elicits prompt and effective retaliations. Therefore, conflict mitigation is essential to ensure long-term coexistence of predators with humans. We performed aversive conditioning (AC) with rubber bullets on one collared wolf that had become particularly bold toward a transhumant shepherd and had preyed on livestock. By exploiting the unique fine-resolution location data available before and after the AC event, alongside careful retrospective field investigations, we were able to analyse the effects of AC on wolf behaviour. Our study revealed that after just a single AC event, the wolf modified its spatial and predatory behaviour: the wolf changed its use of space by increasing distance from humans and ceased to attack farms in the following 2 months; actually, the only livestock preyed after AC was represented by a sheep and two goats lost by shepherds that had left alpine pastures. This study represents a first step to increase knowledge on AC effect on the wolf. Additional researchers are encouraged to conduct and publish findings on this topic in order to provide a useful and widely tested array of tools to promote wolf conservation in human-dominated landscapes.
A report of short-term aversive conditioning on a wolf documented through telemetry / Zanni, M; Brivio, F; Berzi, D; Calderola, S; Luccarini, S; Costanzi, L; Dartora, F; Apollonio, M. - In: EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE RESEARCH. - ISSN 1612-4642. - 69:3(2023). [10.1007/s10344-023-01693-z]