Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Environmental Studies Program


Philip Nyhus

Second Advisor

Travis Reynolds

Third Advisor

Loren McClenachan


Many human-wildlife conflict studies focus on one location or one individual species or taxonomic group; fewer comparative studies analyze patterns of conflict across species and regions. As a result, numerous studies report similar conclusions across diverse cases of human-wildlife conflict. I found 133 scholarly articles published between 1975 and 2017 referencing distance from a protected area boundary as a variable associated with human-wildlife conflict. I identified three generalizable patterns of human-wildlife conflict that appear across taxonomic groups and geographic locations. The family Felidae had the highest maximum average conflict distance and furthest distance from a protected area that conflict was recorded for any taxonomic group (n = 23, x̅ = 33.67 kilometers, xmax = 100 kilometers). There was a strong, positive correlation between species range size and average maximum conflict distance (r2 = 0.485, p = 0.0017), and a weak positive correlation between average maximum conflict distance and herbivorous species body weight (r2 = 0.6017, p = 0.0142). The abundance of research across 5 continents, 28 countries, and 51 diverse species illustrates a widespread recognition that spatial dimensions of conflict are important. These patterns may be explained in part by characteristics inherent to the species. This review suggests that further studies are needed to identify broader, more generalizable patterns of conflict. I tested the applicability of three generalizable spatial patterns of human-wildlife conflict frequency identified in trends I observed in a literature review of human-wildlife conflict by surveying 368 conservation practitioners working in a range of locations with diverse species about their experiences with human-wildlife conflict. I received 58 responses (16% response rate). Survey respondents selected every available pattern across all three boundary distances (1km entry distance, 1km and 40km boundary distances), validating the generalized patterns of human-wildlife conflict. Species characteristics such as diet, body size, and home range were significantly associated with pattern type selection across subsetted groups of species such as carnivores, herbivores, medium-bodied species, and species with a medium size home range. Survey respondents indicated that conflict occurred most often at dusk, dawn, or throughout the night, due to species-specific sleep-wake cycles or adaptation of a species to human presence and human activity levels. Spatial patterns also vary depending upon the availability of wildlife habitat. Gaining a better understanding of where and why conflict is likely to occur will assist people living in conflict-prone areas and improve efforts to manage and protect large and sometimes dangerous animals.


human-wildlife conflict, livestock depredation, crop raiding, distance, protected area

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