, Volume 18, Issue 13, pp 3503-3517

Carnivore-livestock conflicts: determinants of wolf (Canis lupus) depredation on sheep farms in Finland

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Abstract

Wolves (Canis lupus) have recently expanded their distribution range into western and southern Finland, which has not hosted breeding wolves for over 100 years. This has raised concerns and public debate over wolf-livestock conflicts. Between 1998 and 2004 there were 45 wolf attacks on sheep on 34 farms. To assess the risk wolves may pose to sheep husbandry, we used data on depredation, sheep management, landscape structure and moose and wolf populations from continental Finland outside the area of reindeer husbandry to build models of the factors that may predispose sheep farms to wolf depredation. Our results provided evidence that sheep farms with the highest risk of wolf depredation were those located in regions where wolves were abundant. These farms were usually located close to the Russian border where the landscape is a mosaic of forest, wetlands and clear cut areas. These regions are sparsely populated by humans and farms are located far from each other. Finally, we generated probability maps based on generalised additive modelling to predict the risk of wolf predation on livestock in farms of southern Finland.