Publications by authors named "Lisabeth L Willey"

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Estimating poaching risk for the critically endangered wild red wolf (Canis rufus).

PLoS One 2021 5;16(5):e0244261. Epub 2021 May 5.

Environmental Studies Department, Antioch University New England, Keene, New Hampshire, United States of America.

The reintroduced red wolf (Canis rufus) population in northeastern North Carolina declined to 7 known wolves by October 2020, the majority of which is due to poaching (illegal killing), the major component of verified anthropogenic mortality in this and many other carnivore populations. Poaching is still not well understood and is often underestimated, partly as a result of cryptic poaching, when poachers conceal evidence. Cryptic poaching inhibits our understanding of the causes and consequences of anthropogenic mortality, which is important to conservation as it can inform us about future population patterns within changing political and human landscapes. We estimate risk for marked adult red wolves of 5 causes of death (COD: legal, nonhuman, unknown, vehicle and poached) and disappearance, describe variation in COD in relation to hunting season, and compare time to disappearance or death. We include unknown fates in our risk estimates. We found that anthropogenic COD accounted for 0.78-0.85 of 508 marked animals, including poaching and cryptic poaching, which we estimated at 0.51-0.64. Risk of poaching and disappearance was significantly higher during hunting season. Mean time from collaring until nonhuman COD averaged 376 days longer than time until poached and 642 days longer than time until disappearance. Our estimates of risk differed from prior published estimates, as expected by accounting for unknown fates explicitly. We quantify the effects on risk for three scenarios for unknown fates, which span conservative to most likely COD. Implementing proven practices that prevent poaching or hasten successful reintroduction may reverse the decline to extinction in the wild of this critically endangered population. Our findings add to a growing literature on endangered species protections and enhancing the science used to measure poaching worldwide.
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May 2021