Workshops

Session 1

Challenging positions and perception in wolf conflicts

Hosted By: Hans Peter Hansen - Aarhus University, Denmark

After centuries of absence, the grey wolf (Canis lupus) has again become a natural inhabitant of many western landscapes. From a biological perspective the return of wolves has been successful but with wolves severe tensions and conflicts between humans, on wolves and wolf management, has followed. The main drivers of these conflicts are competition between wolves and humans about resources, fear and anxiety, and revoked myths and narratives about wolves and their introduction to the landscape. In many countries we have seen an escalation of the conflict level, leading to illegal killings of wolves, threats and violence, as well as political populism. This to the extent that a well-functioning management has become difficult and in some cases impossible. Due to the high conflict level many wildlife researchers, wildlife managers, and governmental agencies, have entered a state of despair not being able to identify any viable way forward.

 

Together we will explore how our own perceptions, as wildlife researchers, wildlife managers or representatives of NGO, on conflicts related to wolves, shape our ability to imagine and test possible solutions to conflicts. We will apply and facilitate a future oriented workshop methodology, and document the results for a possible common paper in a scientific outlet.

Preventing livestock predation by wolves: co-designing a strategic research plan to move forward with “alternative” aversive methods

Hosted By: Melissa Vanderheyden, Justus-Liebig University in Gießen, Germany

Matthieu Chastel, University of Antwerp, Belgium

Background: Livestock predation by wolves is one of the main issues hindering the peaceful coexistence of livestock farming and the carnivore, as desired, for instance, by the European policy. Popular preventive methods include shepherding, electric fences and livestock guarding dogs, but these are not always feasible or effective. With the wolf population rapidly increasing, alternative methods to supplement existing practices are increasingly demanded to provide stakeholders with a set of socially, environmentally, and financially viable options.

Preventive methods using aversive stimuli against the predators or aversive conditioning have been studied in the past and suggested relevant for livestock protection, but no solutions have been found for potential large scale implementation. Conceiving novel methods and testing them is technically demanding. Early trials often suffered from technical issues or constrains weakening the internal and/or external validity of the tests, hence rendering interpretation difficult, and key behavioural concepts at play were only understood later. Presently, animal welfare requirements and (local) political environment can pose additional challenges. As PhD students dedicated to this topic, we also experience that there is no clear consensus among the scientific community, hindering the progress of the research of alternative methods. This research topic raises interest across borders and discussing practical ideas and experimental designs at an international level maximises our chance to find suitable solutions.

Workshop aim: We invite you to a brainstorming/workshop session, aimed at discussing the main questions raised by predator deterrents, aversion conditioning and livestock protection research. Topics we propose to consider include: underlying behavioural mechanisms, pros and cons of experimental methods available. We intend to synthesise a consensual strategy forward and compile it into a jointly signed conference paper/road-map. We hope that this will help present and future stakeholders concerned with this topic to find the relevant scientific, financial, technical and political/social support they will need.
 

Participatory Stakeholder Identification and Network Mapping – purpose, preparation, participation and helpful outcomes

Hosted By: Carol Großmann - Forest Research Institute Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany

Recent events in Europe showed that multiple organizations and individuals have a strong interest in large carnivores. Self-identification and commitment of stakeholders follow a dynamic process: where controversy is limited fewer people self-identify as stakeholders, in acute conflicts an increasing number of people can be drawn into the topic. Similarly the level of interest and the commitment of a stakeholder to actively engage often increase or fade rather quickly. Stakeholders that are actively engaged can positively contribute and give conservation actors a chance to hear and address their concerns. Conversely, stakeholders that feel excluded from large carnivore management often create intense political pressure and maximize their demands in order to ensure their concerns are acknowledged. The overarching aim of the EU-LIFE EuroLargeCarnivores project (www.eurolargecarnivores.eu) under the lead of WWF Germany was to enhance frame conditions, fact based knowledge and practical tools for a better coexistence with large carnivores in Europe. The project therefore addressed these crucial stakeholder related aspects proactively by developing a methodology and process guidelines how to conduct systematic stakeholder identification and participatory stakeholder network mapping workshops to enhance inclusiveness and transparency in stakeholder representation and engagement. The interaction during these workshops and the results thereof laid the foundations for more fruitful communication and cooperation between the different and a times diverging interest groups within and beyond the activities of the project.  
 
In this conference workshop, we will first briefly introduce this methodology. Together we will then actually go through a short version of a participatory stakeholder identification and network mapping workshop, to experience the sometimes surprising and always helpful insights that can be gained by all participants of such a workshop. 

Towards an effective and socially just governance of human-wolf interactions in Europe

Hosted By: Valerio Donfrancesco - University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Valeria Salvatori - Istituto di Ecologia Applicata, Rome, Italy

Camilla Sandström - Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

Human-wolf interactions are becoming increasingly common across Europe and can assume various forms, depending on the values and interests of those involved. When not addressed adequately, these interactions can lead to tensions among interest groups, and can escalate into entrenched social conflicts. In the past few decades, there has been an increasing recognition of the role that social and political contexts play in the production of human-wolf interactions. When conflicts are not mitigated, they may result in a management impasse, whereby policies are disconnected from the social context they are meant to address and fail to integrate the variety and multiplicity of stakeholder interests. Increasingly, attention has shifted towards the application of participatory forms of governance, whereby local actors have a greater voice in management decisions. These contrast with top-down forms of governance whereby decisions are taken at the national and supranational level. Collaborative governance is generally sought because it can improve relations between stakeholders by redressing power imbalances, acknowledging different values and perspectives, and enhancing trust relations overall. This can increase tolerance towards wolves as well as promote a greater sense of justice.

 

Three major challenges can be seen to hinder the implementation of participatory governance: (i) the lack of acknowledgment and integration of different forms of knowledge in decision-making; (ii) the ineffective redistribution of power despite attempts at decentralization; and (iii) uncertainties regarding the implementation of bottom-up governance, specifically related to how participation can be enhanced at the local level whilst still meeting conservation targets at national and transboundary levels. The present workshop will focus on these issues, exploring ways to overcome them through brainstorming, knowledge-sharing and open deliberation between experts with experience from different countries and insights about different forms of governance. Activities will involve: (i) an opening presentation by the key panelists; (ii) an open/guided discussion on the main themes among the panelists and selected attendees (spectators are welcome); and (iii) an elaboration of a list of research needs. The production of a scientific manuscript from the workshop activities will also be considered.

* This workshop is synergistic with the Session 2 Workshop "Enhancing stakeholder engagement through dialogue, case studies and examples" 

Understanding the wolf through cultural narratives

Hosted By: Saloni Bhatia - Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, India

In many parts of the world, researchers have documented folklore around the wolf that has enabled us to understand the origin of various emotions, values, beliefs and stereotypes that people have come to associate with the animal. In several parts of Europe, for example, the wolf is associated with witchcraft whereas in parts of Central Asia, it is considered to be the ancestor of Genghis Khan. In parts of the Indian high Himalaya, people believe that uttering the wolf's name will bring bad luck whereas others believe the wolf to be a vehicle for several deities. The richness and nuance in folklore can allow us to better interpret human-wolf relationships and help with inclusive and culturally-relevant conservation messaging.

Storytelling is an essential part of human societies which enables people to make sense of the world and their place in it. The proposed workshop can be a place of learning and 'unlearning' of the ways in which we see the wolf. It aims to be an interactive session which can provide a platform for the consolidation of wolf narratives across geographies and also facilitate discussion on how to a) better document and preserve biocultural heritage for posterity and b) integrate it with on-ground conservation.
 

Towards a SNP-based standard for wolf/ dog hybrid detection in Europe

Hosted By: Carsten Nowak, Senckenberg Centre for Wildlife Genetics, Germany

Astrid Vik Stronen, University of Ljubljana & DivjaLabs Ltd., Slovenia

Romolo Caniglia, Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale, Italy

Hugh Jansman, Wageningen Environmental Research, Netherlands

Hybridisation with domestic dogs is a major challenge for wolf conservation and management in human dominated landscapes. Recent studies show that European wolf genomes comprise traces of dog introgression, and locally elevated levels of wolf-dog-hybridisation have been found in in different regions. While molecular genetic and recently genomic tools have greatly facilitated the detection of hybrids, the multitude of markers used for hybrid detection in the frame of regional wolf monitoring programmes and research activities still hampers the comparability of results across regions. 

In the workshop we will present and discuss the applicability of recently developed reduced SNP panels as a potential standard method for hybrid identification across Europe. Tests in various counties have documented the high reliability of the approach for the identification of recent hybrid and backcross generations as well as its suitability for noninvasive samples, such as scats or saliva traces from kills. Availability of the method for European labs could be ensured by the establishment of reference laboratories with the required equipment, who offer analyses in regular time intervals at reasonable costs. Recent application of this approach in Germany, Italy and other countries have shown that SNP-assisted hybrid identification increases the reliability of hybrid detection in the frame of national wolf monitoring and permits calibration of commonly used microsatellites panels. The establishment of standardised SNP-based hybrid detection may (i) reduce the rate of falsely assigned as well as overlooked hybrids, (ii) allow for comparison of hybridisation rates across Europe, and (iii) increase public trust in local wolf monitoring and management programmes.

Session 2

Enhancing stakeholder engagement through dialogue, case studies and examples

Hosted By: Madeleine Nyman - Natural Resource Institute of Finland

Background: Wolves have often been at the center of human-wildlife conflicts as they cause concern, worry and fear, displeasure and occasionally damages to livestock and hunting dogs, but also admiration and a sense of respect for nature and wilderness. Reaching and maintaining a vital wolf population and a robust and transparent wolf management aiming at coexistence is a challenge if people feel that they cannot share the landscape with wolves. As the range of the wolf populations has expanded further into human- dominated landscapes on some European countries and the US after decades of absence, the dispute and conflict has increased often leading to a polarization between different interests and worldviews. In many countries, the management has not been successful in depolarizing the conflict or finding a common frame to operate within. It has resulted in an unstable and politicized wolf policy that is sensitive to outer pressures and incentives. The wolf policy has focused mostly on the impacts to and from wolves and the wolf-human interaction so far (e.g. technical and economic solutions). Many of the management incentives and good practices have been successful at reducing negative impacts (e.g. wolf attacks on livestock), and are central for the successful management, but they have not been able to solve the conflict.  A viable wolf management builds on a stable platform where all levels of authorities, stakeholders and citizens are included and considered. Wolf management is about more than the apparent wolf-human interaction, as it involves many stakeholders and is dependent on the ecological, political and socioeconomic environment, background and cultural history. Now it is time to turn the attention towards the human-human wolf conflict and assess the applicability of dialogue tools that could help in enhancing the engagement and commitment of all actors around the wolf management, with a special focus on the stakeholders and NGOs.

 

Aim: The purpose of the workshop is to assess different dialogue tools in the wolf conflict context. We invite scientist of different backgrounds, practitioners and students to join the workshop to share their own experiences in conflict management. We focus on how to engage stakeholders and NGOs, both vertically and horizontally, to accept and agree on a common agenda and enhancing the stewardship.

 

Programme: The workshop will consist of two entities: 1) short presentations of the frames and institutional (norms and rules) criteria of a viable wildlife management and group discussions on possible dialogue tools and approaches that could be implemented, and 2) evaluation report on the outcome of the workshop that will be shared among the participants.

* This workshop is synergistic with the Session 1 Workshop "Towards an effective and socially just governance of human-wolf interactions in Europe" 

Lessons Learned to Achieve Conservation Success: It's about Working with People! Human Dimensions Research with Applied Facilitation and Conflict Resolution Creates Solutions

Hosted By: Alistair Bath - Memorial University, Newfoundland, Canada

Anton Näsman, WWF, Sweden

Dr. Alistair Bath will take us all around the world where he has combined human dimensions research and applied conflict resolution and facilitation skills to achieve conservation successes. Whether working with lion killers to become lion guardians in Kenya, Israelis and Palestinian authorities working on urban biodiversity issues, tigers in India, bison restoration in Alaska, Indigenous peoples and caribou issues in Canada's north, jaguars in Brazil, most recently Andean cat conservation in the high Andes of Argentina, and of course wolf issues throughout Europe and in Yellowstone National Park, conservation successes occur when you understand that you are born with two ears and one mouth, so you should be listening at least twice as much as talking when working with local communities, key interest groups and government authorities. Listen to Alistair share stories of how listening and learning from people is the key to conservation success. Learn how to use HD research to involve all groups, balance vocal viewpoints, and gain valuable insights to issues, but also to then apply facilitation and conflict resolution skills to resolve those issues. A 4-phased approach to conservation success will be shared and demonstrated to participants.

 

This interactive workshop training course is directed to wildlife and natural resource conservation professionals (e.g., government, NGOs, students and practioners) who are dealing with programs to mitigate human-wildlife conflict, effectively understand the complex nature of gaining public support, designing effective communication strategies and strategically planning best ways forward to acheive wolf conservation.

The role of poaching in wolf research and management

Hosted By: Olof Liberg - Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden

Håkan Sand, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden

Illegal killing of wildlife, also termed poaching, is a common and global problem. Although most acute in species poached for monetary gain, often related to large scale illicit trade, poaching is also a significant problem for the conservation of large carnivores that threaten and compete with human interests. Grey wolves (Canis lupus) have limited commercial value but are probably the most controversial and conflict-prone carnivore species on Earth. Poaching of wolves appears to be prevalent wherever wolves and humans coexist. The idea that legal harvest or culling might increase tolerance of wolves, and even reduce poaching, has been raised and put in practice, but also questioned.


In some areas of the world, illegal killing of large carnivores seems to be largely a rural protest against conservationist restrictions, which are perceived as threats against the residents' traditional rights and the quality of life in the countryside. This view has been extensively supported and discussed in a large and fast-growing body of social science literature. It has even been suggested that a remedy against poaching of wolves could be to increase legal culling and turn them into a “valued quarry in traditional hunting”.
 

One important factor that may obstruct a better understanding of the relationship between legal culling and poaching is the difficulty of quantifying poaching. Poaching is a criminal act and the offenders are therefore expected to conceal the offences. The term “cryptic poaching” has been used to define the hidden proportion of poaching that is not discovered or reported. 
 

In this workshop, we will focus on reasons for and effects of poaching on wolves, and discuss how important and general this factor may be in limiting wolf population growth. We here define  poaching as any type of illegal killing of wolves, irrespective of method. In particular, we want researchers to critically re-evaluate their own data and experiences on wolf mortality patterns so as to give an updated view over the importance of poaching, how this can better be estimated by researchers, and what management actions may possibly be used to reduce this in the future.

What can Passive Acoustic Recorders Do For You? Using Sound to Study Wolves

Hosted By: Paul Howden-Leach - Wildlife Acoustics Inc., UK

This workshop will explore how bioacoustics can be used as a non-invasive survey and research tool to identify wolf vocalisations, and how Kaleidoscope Pro (Wildlife Acoustics’ sound analysis software) can be used to extract those signals from hours and hours of audio recordings. Kaleidoscope Pro includes a cluster analysis feature that extracts audible signals of interest from larger files, and then sorts those signals by similarity. Cluster analysis is a powerful tool for species survey and presence/absence determination. Cluster analysis is also the first step towards building simple and advanced classifiers to allow specific data to be extracted from hours of recordings. Attendees will get a chance to look at and handle different pieces of recording equipment and look at different deployment methods. In addition, a temporary Kaleidoscope Pro license will be provided to attendees, along with example recordings so you can “play along” with the software element of the workshop. We will discuss the theory of how cluster analysis works, including tuning parameters specifically for wolf research, and then we’ll put it into practice with actual audio files.

Trapping wolves with leghold traps when bears are around

Hosted By: Josip Kusak, University of Zagreb, Croatia

Katarzyna Bojarska, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland

Background: Every seasoned wolf trapper knows that capturing non-target animals is an inevitable annoyance which decreases chances of capturing wolves, and for which one should always be prepared. We will not elaborate on the general techniques of wolf trapping with leghold traps, but only on the aspects of this kraft which are important when bears are present in the same area and could be captured. Leghold traps are not designed and set in a way to safely capture bears. Capturing bears in wolf traps is not only an annoyance, but also can be dangerous, regardless the bear size. Bear cubs are accompanied by very protective mothers, while older bears up to 70-80 kg are still not strong enough to free themselves from the trap, but they may do so in a moment of maximal excitement, which usually occurs when a trapper approaches them for darting.

Several measures can be undertaken to minimize the probability of capturing bears and to increase the chance for capturing wolves. These measures include the choice of the season, the area, and lure. Some apparently obvious technical solutions, like fixing the trap to the ground or to a tree along a drivable road to enable safe darting from the car, may prove not feasible in case of wolves, mostly because of human-related factors. Josip Kusak discussed the topic with Mr. Carter Niemeyer and asked him: “What would you do if you needed to trap wolves in an area where brown bears are present?” Mr. Niemeyer answered: “I would not do this.”.

 

Workshop aim: We invite you to a brainstorming session, aimed at discussing the challenges and options on how to trap wolves safely and efficiently for research purposes in the presence of bears, but also people in human-dominated landscapes.

Changepoint analysis and animation of movement data in R  

Hosted By: Erik Versluijs - Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Norway

Recent advances in GPS and battery technology enable studies on fine-scale movement of radio-tagged individuals. During bursts of intensive positioning, researchers can study behavioural responses of individuals to e.g. external stimuli, such as human disturbance. In this workshop, Erik Versluijs will give an introduction to the application of changepoint analysis in R to identify changes between different behavioural states, such as resting and flight. He will also show how movement of e.g. wolves and humans can be visualized as animated paths in R. Animation is useful to explore movement and interactions, and helps to communicate research results. The workshop will be hands-on, so bring along your labtop, preferably with R installed.

Post-Conference Virtual Sessions

Estimating wolf occupancy with R

Hosted By: Olivier Gimenez - National Centre for Scientific Research, France

Date and Time: May 16th, 14:00 - 17:00 CET 

In this workshop, we will show how to infer occupancy while accounting for imperfect detection. Using a real case study on wolves (Canis lupus)  that have been recolonizing France since the early 1990s, we will show how to estimate the proportion of area occupied by the species. We will also show how to asses the dynamic of occupancy by estimating colonization and extinction processes. If time allows, we will also cover recent models that allow accounting for false positives due to species misidentification as well as species interactions. The workshop will be a combination of lecture and live coding demonstrations in R (using package unmarked).

Overshadowed by large cats: wolves in the Asian highlands

Hosted By: Mohammad Farhadina - University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Date and Time: To Be Announced

Rationale and objectives for the proposed meeting: In west and central Asian highlands, wolf management and conservation is generally overshadowed by more charismatic larger cats, such as Persian leopards, snow leopards and tigers, which are considered to need more protection. Consequently, conservation resources and mitigation efforts in different landscapes are usually channeled into cat conservation, rather than addressing the entire guild of large carnivores.