Livestock Predation by Puma (Puma concolor) in the Highlands of a Southeastern Brazilian Atlantic Forest

Abstract

We evaluated local opinion about reducing livestock losses to puma (Puma concolor) and the potential for conflict among livestock breeders inside a protected area in the highlands of a southeastern Brazilian Atlantic forest. We also quantified the number and type of livestock losses, and determined if predation by puma was correlated with property profile and landscape characteristics. We conducted semistructured interviews with 42 livestock breeders sampled in 36 rural properties. When asked how to reduce predation, 33 % of livestock breeders refused to answer, 26 % suggested improving livestock husbandry practices, 19 % stated that there was no appropriate action, 17 % favored removing the “problem” individual, and 5 % suggested killing the puma. Opinion on how to solve predation was independent of herd size and history of losses, and was correlated with respondent age class. Older respondents tended to suggest removing or killing pumas. Attitudes toward predation represented high potential for conflict among livestock breeders who demonstrated high discordance among responses. Horses were the most common prey (51 %), followed by cattle (28 %), sheep (17 %), and goats (4 %); totaling 47 animals attacked between 2004 and 2007. Annual predation was approximately 12 ± 5 animals, equivalent to 0.4 % of the total livestock. Property elevation and distance from the urban center were the main predictors of predation probability. This survey used a novel approach that has not been addressed directly in other studies on livestock predation and demonstrated that the high potential for conflict among livestock breeders should be considered before implementing management actions.

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Acknowledgments

Thanks to the Horto Florestal (Campos do Jordão State Park), especially Marco Antonio P. Marcondes and Waldir Joel de Andrade, and the Instituto Florestal (Process SMA N 42.769/2006) for institutional support and permission to conduct this survey. Thanks to all the livestock breeders who kindly agreed to participate in the interviews, especially Seu Jorge, Pedro Henrique de Oliveira, Fabinho, and Nelson M. Marcelino for their field assistance in data collection. We thank the Environmental/Forest Police and Fire Department at Campos do Jordão for information provided, as well as Pedro Paulo Filho, Arthur Bicudo, Antonio Scafuto Neto, Orlando Paggiaro, Mr. Roberto (Romalar), Fotótica Shimazu, Fernando, Tião and Cali for donation of photos and other materials. We thank our parents, Ana Maria T. Trinca, Walter Trinca, and Benvinda B. Lopes for the infrastructure provided and complete financial support of fieldwork activities. Thanks to Ronaldo G. Morato for a reference provided and Renata A. Miotto for helping us to find the target journal. We are very grateful for helpful comments and suggestions from reviewers, Heather Aslin and José R. Soto-Shoender, and the editors-in-chief.

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Correspondence to Francesca Belem Lopes Palmeira.

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Palmeira, F.B.L., Trinca, C.T. & Haddad, C.M. Livestock Predation by Puma (Puma concolor) in the Highlands of a Southeastern Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Environmental Management 56, 903–915 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-015-0562-5

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Keywords

  • Attitudes
  • Conservation
  • Generalized linear model
  • Human–wildlife interaction
  • Potential for conflict index