Wolves, grizzly bears, and cougars are symbolic, high-profile, predatory animals. Working to promote coexistence and prevent or mitigate human-predator conflict, is a complex and contentious management challenge. Persistence of grizzlies, cougars, and wolves at any significant scale in the contiguous United States will depend on our ability to coexist with them. And since many, perhaps most, large carnivores die from anthropogenic causes, there is general agreement that their conservation hinges on our ability to share the landscape with them.
Predators play an essential role in resilient ecosystem function. Healthy predator populations help regulate prey populations that otherwise can overpopulate, damage native ecosystems, and spread disease. Conflicts between predators and humans can occur in many ways, for example, predation of livestock, damage to property, agriculture, and pets. Additionally, recreationists can encounter human-predator conflicts that can be life-threatening. For many predator species, conflict with people can threaten their survival in the wild. Predator deterrents such as livestock guardian dogs, lighting, and noise devices have successfully minimized human-predator conflicts, but they have not yet been widely adopted.
On-the-ground resources and approaches – from livestock husbandry to agency-level management – exist for minimizing human conflicts with large carnivores, but more innovation is needed to improve upon them. Effective hands-on tools, increased technical expertise, and tangible outcomes are essential. There is no single solution.
To win the Theodore Roosevelt Genius Prize Competition for Reducing Human-Predator Conflict, participants must submit their solution for reducing human-predator conflicts and significantly reducing or eliminating stakeholder obstacles. Stakeholder obstacles are those challenges that might prevent the solution from being readily adopted and used by stakeholders.