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Forecasting Environmental Hazards and the Application of Risk Maps to Predator Attacks on Livestock

Abstract: Environmental hazards are distributed in nonrandom patterns; therefore, many biologists work to predict future hazard locations from the locations
of past incidents. Predictivespatial models, orrisk maps, promiseearly warning and targeted prevention of nonnativespecies invasion, diseasespread,
or wildlife damage. The prevention of hazards safeguards both humans and native biodiversity, especially in the case of conflicts with top predators.
Top predators play essential ecological roles and maintain biodiversity, but they can also threaten human life and livelihood, which leads people to
eradicate predator populations. In the present article, we present a risk map for gray wolf (Canis lupus) attacks on livestock in Wisconsin between
1999 and 2006 that correctly identified risk in 88% of subsequent attack sites from 2007 to 2009. More-open habitats farther from any forest and
closer to wolf pack ranges were the riskiest for livestock. Prediction promotes prevention. We recommend that the next generation of risk mappers
employ several criteria for model selection, validate model predictions against data not used in model construction before publication, and integrate
predictors from organismal biology alongside human and environmental predictors.
Keywords: animal damage management, carnivore conservation, human–wildlife conflict, probability surface, spatial model
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  534k v. 2 Oct 1, 2012, 11:15 PM Katy Nomura