For 90 years, the American Society of Mammalogists (ASM) has made science-based challenges to widespread lethal control of native mammals, particularly by the United States federal government targeting carnivores in the western states. A consensus is emerging among ecologists that extirpated, depleted, and destabilized populations of large predators are negatively affecting the biodiversity and resilience of ecosystems. This Special Feature developed from a thematic session on predator control at ASM's 2013 annual meeting, and in it we present data and arguments from the perspectives of ecology, wildlife biology and management, social science, ethics, and law and policy showing that nonlethal methods of preventing depredation of livestock by large carnivores may be more effective, more defensible on ecological, legal, and wildlife-policy grounds, and more tolerated by society than lethal methods, and that total mortality rates for a large carnivore may be driven higher than previously assumed by human causes that are often underestimated.
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