What would it be like to live in a world with no predators roaming our landscapes? Would their elimination, which humans have sought with ever greater urgency in recent times, bring about a pastoral, peaceful human civilization? Or in fact is their existence critical to our own, and do we need to be doing more to assure their health and the health of the landscapes they need to thrive?
In "The Carnivore Way: Coexisting with and Conserving North American Predators," published May 1st by Island Press, Cristina Eisenberg describes the ongoing efforts of humans to coexist with wolves, cougars, wolverines and other species in a largely wild but developing landscape.
Anyone curious about carnivore ecology and management in a changing world will find a thoughtful guide to large carnivore conservation that dispels long-held myths about their ecology and contributions to healthy, resilient landscapes.
To purchase Dr. Eisenberg's outstanding book, please visit Island Press for details.
Large carnivore conservation is ultimately about people," Eisenberg wrote. "Science and environmental law can help us learn to share landscapes with fierce creatures, but ultimately coexistence has to do with our human hearts."
For Eisenberg, it also has much to do with ecosystems. Wildlife scientists have documented the crucial role that large carnivores play in shaping forests and rangelands, she said.
"When you're out there on the ground and a wolf shows up or a cougar shows up and starts doing what they do, you have these 'aha' moments," Eisenberg said. "What I'm doing in 'The Carnivore Way' is providing a lot of stories and examples. There's a massive amount of science in the book, but in the end, it's sharing those 'aha' moments that help people connect with these animals."
In a world in which ecosystems are reeling from climate change and other human influences, Eisenberg said, wolves and other carnivores can restore resilience that benefits the resources that people depend on. By maintaining a role for carnivores, ecosystems are more likely to rebound in the face of drought, fire and other disturbances linked to a changing climate.