Trapping Conservation and Self-Reliance News

Mitigating Raccoon-Dog and Human conflicts in Chinese Cities
Sep 26, 2022 18:20 ET


Human-wildlife conflicts in cities are becoming increasingly common worldwide and are a challenge to urban biodiversity management and landscape planning. In comparison to compensatory management, which often focuses on addressing emergency conflicts, precautionary management allows decision-makers to better allocate limited resources on prioritized areas and initiate long-term actions in advance. However, precautionary approaches have rarely been developed or applied in biodiversity conservation. Since 2020, human-raccoon dog conflicts in Shanghai, one of the largest cities in the world, have tripled in reported number due to the rapid spread of the species in the city from 70 residential districts in 2020 to 249 residential districts in 2022. Here, we use ensemble and circuit modeling to predict suitable raccoon dog habitat and identify their potential dispersal pathways to aid the development of precautionary management strategies. We find that raccoon dog distribution is positively associated with several anthropogenic factors, including residential buildings and nighttime light, which could be signs that the species' foraging behavior has adapted to the urban environment. We find that raccoon dogs only occupy 10.1% of its suitable habitat, and thus there is a high potential for the expansion of the raccoon dog population and more frequent human-raccoon dog conflicts in the near future. We predict 60 potential dispersal pathways across Shanghai, seven of which cross densely human populated areas and are likely to trigger excessive conflicts. Based on our findings, we propose priority areas where precautionary management strategies, such as constraining stray animal feeding and wildlife-vehicle collision prevention, would potentially alleviate human-raccoon dog conflicts. We present the first study on the precautionary approach of human-wildlife conflict in China's major cities, and provide a practical example of how comprehensive modeling approaches can be used as the foundation of precautionary management in urban landscapes.

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