Loss of top predators causing surge in smaller predators, ecosystem collapse

There are going to be predators. Do you want a few big ones, or lots of smaller ones?

Loss of top predators causing surge in smaller predators, ecosystem collapse. Oregon State University news lease on research by Dr. William Ripple.

My comments . . .

Although in a few places such as Idaho and Montana large predators like wolves and grizzly bears are being increased against formidable political resistance, the worldwide trend is for them to disappear and be replaced by a larger number of medium sized or smaller predators.

Most people don’t understand that predators will never disappear, nor will parasites, etc. Human pressure to exterminate them shifts the advantage to another animal that tends to fill that ecological niche, although often with many unanticipated and undesirable side effects.






  1. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Amazing. This article needs to be more mainstream.

  2. mikepost Avatar

    The fact that the coyote has expanded almost 100% beyond his original historic range will bare this out. Attacks by urban coyotes on humans are numerous (one fatal) and represent a threat that far exceeds any that the wolf or the bear ever represented.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    ProWolf in WY,

    Yes. I agree that a lot of people need to read this (far beyond an Oregon State University news release).

    It is, however, a process you’d think people could figure out without a scientific study.

  4. gline Avatar

    Dr Ripple will be speaking at the carnivore conference this Nov in Denver. fyi Anyone going to the carnivore conference??

  5. Ryan Avatar


    Wolves haven’t and won’t make a difference with regards to the urban coyote problem.

  6. JimT Avatar

    During the efforts..unsuccessful…to get wolves in Baxter or Adirondacks (more problematic due to inholdings), there was evidence that the reason white tail deer have become such a nuisance in the Northeast is the lack of a sufficiently sized predator..catamount or wolf..to be able to fulfill its role in the predator prey balancing act.

    I will be at the carnivore conference…along with lots of other Boulder area folks..

    I will also say the urban coyote problem is..again..mostly a creation of human activity. We see it here in Boulder with all of the housing and shopping development taking over what was open land between towns. They adapt very well, and will hang around..where are they supposed to go? Plus, most of the attacks recently reported around here are due to human stupidity about them..they call them over to play with their dogs, or they are playing retrieve with their dogs in areas known to be frequented by coyotes, or have their little dog off lease, and WHAM…a snack for the pack. They are here to stay..unless you bring in wolves..VBG…We also have increasingly sightings of mountain lions here as folks build further out into the canyons, driving prey away, and the lions seek whatever they can get…dogs and cats left out on decks, for example. Bottom line…be smart, learn to co-exist, and if it bothers you that you are now living in their habitat..move to town.

  7. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Ralph, you would think that but people still believe that wolves kill all the prey animals in an area.

  8. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I am not going to the conference but will there be a web site?

  9. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Dr. Ripple is involved with the movie “The Lords of Nature” which is a DVD that is being shown in cities around the west and can be purchased online about this very subject. It is eye opening to people who have not heard of the studies they are doing on trophic cascade (if I spelled that right) Their is a website for the movie: http://www.lordsofnature.org where you can watch trailers for it.

  10. mikepost Avatar

    Folks, please do not dismiss the impact that coyote activity has on the uninformed when they are asked about the wolf issues. The vast majority of politically impactive urban dwellers have little knowledge about either but do firmly equate the two as wild canines, cousins in their minds, and will readily ascribe similar behavior to both. What they see and hear about coyotes, they will readily believe can happen with wolves…

  11. monty Avatar

    The end product of this high grading of primary predators may be that “meat eating hogs” and rats will inherit the land (as well as pythons in Florida). A recent National Geographic TV program about feral hogs in the southeast & Texas is that their population is exploding. And even if there were a viable mountain lion population they could not control these 400 to 600 pound brutes. As humans are the world’s major weed species, we continue to introduce other weed species into our landscapes.

  12. timz Avatar

    And those small predators can be dangerous.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan