Carnivores in Retreat

Gray wolf (Photo: Doug McLaughlin)
Gray wolf (Photo: Doug McLaughlin)

In ecosystems around the world, the decline of large predators such as lions, wolves and cougars is changing the face of landscapes from the tropics to the Arctic. An analysis of 31 carnivore species shows how threats such as habitat loss, persecution by humans and reductions in prey combine to create global hotspots of carnivore decline.

More than 75 percent of 31 large-carnivore species are losing ground; 17 species now occupy less than half of their former ranges. Bill Ripple of OSU’s College of Forestry led the international review of more than 100 published studies.

“Globally, we are losing our large carnivores,” Ripple says. “Their ranges are collapsing. Ironically, they are vanishing just as we are learning about their important ecological effects.” (See “High Alert,” Terra, spring 2007.)

The researchers, including OSU’s Robert Beschta and Michael Nelson, call for an international initiative to conserve large predators in coexistence with people.


See an Oregon State news release, “Loss of large carnivores poses global conservation problem,”  1-9-14.