Coexistence: living harmoniously with wildlife in a human-dominated world is a primer on IFAW’s mentality that coexistence is better than conflict. People’s relationship with native wildlife is often that of conflict. Animals such as coyotes, wolves, bears, and beavers are considered “nuisances” and are treated as something to be controlled. The result is millions of animals killed in barbaric ways every year by governments, all to “reduce conflict.” This report highlights examples of people finding innovative, yet simple ways to coexist with wildlife so that we can live side by side with these species. IFAW understands that not only are native wildlife species important to protect, but they are also essential to the ecosystem and therefore our own well-being. We work every day to make the planet a better place for both people and animals.
The current relationship between people and animals
- We are living in the Anthropocene, the modern era characterized by human-dominated landscapes, reduced wildlife populations, and chaotic climates.
- At the same time, some wildlife thrive in and adapt to human-dominated landscapes. These species are often considered inconvenient and untold numbers, from black birds to coyotes, are killed through destructive, cruel, and mostly ineffective methods. The result is wasted resources, animal welfare violations, and ecosystem damage. Human efforts to kill wildlife simply because they are considered a nuisance are not justified.
Mutual benefits of coexistence
- The best available science indicates humane techniques that emphasize coexistence and are adapted to context and changing conditions over time are more effective at preventing or reducing conflicts and wildlife management costs over the long-term.
- In many cases, human-wildlife interactions are labeled as “conflict” due to negative perceptions associated with the mere presence of a wild animal. In these instances, solutions center on addressing concerns and changing human behaviors to reduce interactions between humans and wildlife.
- Evidence that humane coexistence strategies are effective abound. Case studies illustrating successful coexistence are included in this report: coyotes in North America, gray wolves across the Northern Hemisphere, community-based conservation in Montana, urban black bears in Colorado, jaguars in Mexico, and African lions in Kenya.
Broad importance of wildlife to human society and survival
- Wildlife have diverse and important values. From global economies to local livelihoods, they contribute various ecosystem services and support human well-being. Wildlife also have value simply in their existence.
- When humans coexist with and avoid persecuting wildlife in and around our communities, we safeguard ecosystem health, agricultural stability, food security, and the creation of new sustainable economies (e.g., ecotourism). Ultimately, coexistence with wildlife is essential for all life, humans and animals alike.
Photo: An adult female coyote spotted in San Francisco. © Jaymi Heimbuch / Urban Coyote Initiative