Predators in Your Backyard

2011, Science  -   64 Comments
Ratings: 8.33/10 from 12 users.

Predators in Your BackyardAcross the world scientists are releasing predators, nature's ultimate killers, close to where people live.

In Florida, a new population of panthers, feared as ambush predators, have been released near to the busy town of Naples.

In the Italian Alps, bears have been reintroduced after they became virtually extinct, and now try to get into people's homes in the middle of the night.

And in Yellowstone National Park, wolves have been brought back 70 years after they were exterminated.

Horizon meets the scientists behind this radical scheme, and the people who now have to share their backyards with these dangerous predators.

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64 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Tom boner

    Surprised at how many people aren't against this. Maybe there is hope for us after all? It Is indeed human population that must be controlled,and it would be more humane for us as well as animals if it happen. Check out "the logic and common sense guild" on Facebook. That group knows the score. As fair as I'm concerned, the only way we're going to save the earth is by forcing change.

  2. Clark Downes

    So many s*upid comments below from both sides, rewilding will work in some places in others it wont and in some it will cause additional issues to the ecosystem,

    In Yellow stone the wolf population was gone, but 70 years is still a relatively short time in relation to the issue. So it worked , its also a national park. There's lots of space .

    In Europe its different, I'm English and its only a few years ago I learnt that we used to have wolves,bears,beavers and wild cats. Admittedly we may still have some lynx. But rewilding a relatively small island which has the biggest human population its ever experienced and one that is set to increase wouldn't work. We need to build hundreds of thousands of new homes in the next decade, here as soon as food was scarce their would be conflict. Eventually this conflict would result in humans repeating history and eliminating predators from England/the British isles.

    Man kind isn't some brutal imposing species, were animals and have done exactly what the big predators were already doing. Prior to farming we were hunter gathers, if you didnt hunt you'd become the hunted. We've been incredibly successful and that reflects in the ecosystem.its not a case of whom encroached on the land , its what all animals do, like the bear that explored, we as humans do - there is only one land and where we go we often succeed, where we don't other animals enjoy being top of the food chain .That's not to say we can't conserve , the French villagers were still aware of life with bears from the late 1980s and hence we as humans should accept rewilding in such places.

  3. Bleue_Dry

    'They reproduce beyond the capacity of the habitat. ' Hyprocrisy level: humanity.

    1. Clark Downes

      But humans haven't , there's plenty of resources the problem is that theyre not evenly distributed. Total human population is predicted to increase to around 12 billion, then as poverty becomes less predominant birth control and family planning use will become more widely accepted. Resulting in 12 billion being our population peak, its likely that it will ultimately decline a little and fall around the 10-11 billion overall. Its a combination of transport,education and social mobility - in many places such as Bangladesh and the philippines the new working classes aspire to improve themselves and for their children to benefit from such improvements - by limiting the number of children they have in total. Japan actually faces the opposite issue of a continually declining population.

      As the West already have lower birth rates North America and Europe will see a decline in its population, whilst Asia and Africa will continue to improve standards and increase social mobility. Essentially the population will be redistributed, but still not reproducing beyond our means overall

  4. Ann Rhodes

    This film is overly sensational. The animals don't know any better, but it's nothing beanbag and stinger guns along with strict rules about securing trash and not feeding the wildlife can't fix. In North America the only real threat of predation comes from Kodiak Grizzlies which don't stay far beyond the Arctic Circle.

  5. Shannon Phanhong

    Animals were here before people. That's the bottom line. Then humans came along and now animal numbers dwindle as human population soars. Ever since humans have begun to co-exist with animals, they must realize that there is a balance. A lot of these animals that attack livestock are starving due to the shortage of prey due to human encroachment. For those people ignorant enough to think this Earth can function without animals, you are living a poor, selfish fantasy. Without animals, this Earth is doomed. We must respect all life, and that includes predators.

    1. robertallen1

      "We must respect all life." Does that apply to cockroaches?

      But I agree, it's a knotty problem. Let me give you an example. In Bolivia the red front macaws swoop down on the farmers' corn and, of course, the farmers react by killing the birds. The bad news is that they are down to about 1,500 in the wild; the good news is that they breed well in capativity and make great pets. I know; I have one--and he just loves corn, especially if he sees me eating it. One solution,I believe, is for the farmers to fence off all but a portion of their crop so that the birds will have something to eat and possibly breed. The prioblem with that solution is that if it works and the birds breed, larger unfenced portions will be needed to sustain them. So what are the farmers to do?

      Obviously such a solution would probably not work for the beasts of prey treated in this documentary.

      Now, I've tried to come up with a solution. How about you?

      P.S. As for respecting predators; man is the greatest of them all.

    2. Pam Weldon

      Keep your house (especially kitchen) clean and maybe you wouldn't harbor cockroaches or other roaches. :)

    3. Echte

      HEY! Thanks for "guiding" me here...LOL....Love this SITE...Woo-Hooo!!!

    4. chernencoffa

      People are animals. We did not come after animals. The earth can function without animals. How could it not. It is a rock floating in space it doesn't care. We on the other hand cannot function or at least survive without animals. For instance phytoplankton create most of the oxygen we breathe. And yes they are technically like plants I believe but my point is we rely on nature for survival not the earth.

  6. AngelusMortis

    I really wish people would stop giving opinions on the particular subject and start commenting on the videos!

  7. Krissy

    I think this documentary is pretty well produced. I thought that would be logic. we need predators to keep checks and balances. heck, i knew this before i was in biology.and im 15! I think that rewilding is a fine line between breaking the good and bad. the idea of it is great,but that comes with consquences as is with the way populations grow and over populate and cause a mass destruction. look how us humans have changed and impacted the world. ecologically weve impacted all the aspects of our world and are trying to restore it. sometimes its a long tetious process but with good outcome as of the yellowstone national park. I see that the reasons that was a sucess is because that the way it was supposed to be. once you mess up a minor aspect of an ecosystem every thing goesout of wack.theecosystems and boimes of our planet have their own nateral way of keeping populations to an equilibrium, where the poulations arnt too low or skyhigh. the plant has its way of keeping that circle of life. very interesting documentary, with good information to it!

    1. Tobias MacRobie

      The key difference is this; humans adapt the environment to ourselves, while wild animals adapt to their environment. Second of note is that predator populations collapse when the prey becomes scarce. There is no such thing as "overpopulation" of predators. There is only insufficient prey, and that state inevitably leads to predator collapse. Humans are doing that to ourselves, as the top predator of all, by eliminating our resources.. yup! Collapse. It's just not as epic as watching a cheetah running after a thompson's gazelle or something.

  8. john kay

    what we need is more animals; less humans...a lion pride, wolve pack and a few my area would be welcomed by me

  9. david o leary

    life feeds on life

  10. Dancing Horses

    I can see the value of wolves and panthers, but not bears. Especially not the larger species of bears, the browns and grizzlies. They're nice to look at on postcards, but they cause way too much trouble to be worth having them around.

    1. Anjanette Humphrey

      **** that! The animals have just as much right to live as humans do! Maybe even more, because we humans have dominated the planet and our exterminating and driving animals into extinction is a ******* crime and we ought to be ashamed of ourselves! If you have a bear problem, or a panther problem, or a wolf problem, sounds like you're living in the wrong neighborhood! Maybe we shouldn't live EVERYWHERE! Maybe we should be fair to the less industrious creatures on the planet, because they are important and we are not superior or above them, we're just different! Every species should be treated with respect and understanding, we've evolved mentally enough to do that, so use your intellectual powers of understanding and sympathy, and don't be ********! Don't "just shoot them critters!", learn about them and take precautions, like don't live in a tiger's territory, and you won't be attacked by tigers. It's really simple logic.

    2. Anjanette Humphrey

      Wrong! Your opinion is morally wrong! The animals have just as much a right to live as humans do! Maybe even more, because we humans have dominated the planet and our exterminating and driving animals into extinction is a horrific crime and we ought to be ashamed of ourselves! If you have a bear problem, or a panther problem, or a wolf problem, sounds like you're living in the wrong neighborhood! Maybe we shouldn't live EVERYWHERE! Maybe we should be fair to the less industrious creatures on the planet, because they are important and we are not superior or above them, we're just different! Every species should be treated with respect and understanding, we've evolved mentally enough to do that, so use your intellectual powers of understanding and sympathy, and don't be a bunch of jerks! Don't "just shoot them critters!", learn about them and take precautions, like don't live in a tiger's territory, and you won't be attacked by tigers. It's really simple logic!

    3. Tobias MacRobie

      Trouble indeed, but whether spreading the seeds of trouble or spreading the seeds of other plants, bears play an important role in many ecosystems. =)

  11. Neil_deGrasse_Tyson

    "I am not a master of the outside. I can only know what I have seen. Through my foggy window protected by a screen." -- Tristen "Wicked Heart"

  12. Truls Markus Kjellberg

    wow it is a good idea to wipe out a whole species of animals because they might pose some threat to humans??? I can't believe that hunters stupidity!!! I think it would be best for him and all other invaders to leave America to the natives who could clearly take care of the nature a lot better!!!

  13. psyklone

    We also need to look into protecting sharks because if they become extinct... We speed up the death of the oceans that we started.

    1. Anjanette Humphrey

      It' so stupid that we have to set up laws and punishments to keep people from killing everything in their wake. Why don't people just look at nature both on a small and a larger scale and just know it's important? It -to me- seems really f*cking obvious! I don't need legislation, or a documentary, or a group of scientists to make me see the importance of a forest, or an entire species' presence somewhere. It would never NEED to be pointed out to me that dumping oil and waste into the ocean is harmful.

    2. sknb

      It's awesome that you don't need legislation to see the value in a forest. I wish that more people in my country (USA) were able to think like that. But they don't, and they won't. This is why I believe strong environmental legislation is critical here. But people here freak out when any politician or political group tries to legislate protection of the environment. They say its anti capitalist. It's so sad. The government needs to make these laws otherwise a lot of the country just won't get it, nor will they care.

  14. manohar sullad

    oops some how came as a new reply. sorry

  15. StillRV

    They have been releasing mountain lion and coywolves around here (coywolf is coyote wolf hybrid) and I am all for it. They are thinking about wolves too but no go as yet.

  16. Jules

    To Vlad -

    One of the best documentaries I've watched on this site....and I've watched probably almost 100 of them.

    I love this site and think that what these scientists are trying to do is amazing. Not sure I agree with lions regulating horse populations in Montana, but I see the logic behind it.


    -A loyal fan in CA.

  17. Guest

    Daniel Quin has a very interesting way to look at overpopulation. The Story of B, great book.

  18. His Forever

    Preditors are ESSENTIAL to healthy forests. There as a city encased forrest near Eugene Oregon where hunting was allowed for many years until someone got the bright idea to ban it there. The deer overpopulated in just a few years and then one winter they died out from starvation is such numbers it was nearly a 100% kill. The population went from a healthy stustained population to nearly zero in just a few years. Hunters are needed for good forest ecology, and natural preditors are needed also if there is not enough hunting. These lovely animals are not the problem, we are. We need to make room for them if we can (and then watch our kids when we camp). Woke up one morning after camping to find mountain lion tracks in the camp when I was 11. Never forgot it!

    African lions are territorial. The proposal to bring them to the American midwest to hunt horses would work, but in that case humans would also get killed sometimes as in Africa several hundred people get killed yearly from lions. The other option: shoot more horses that are old or sick.

  19. margiemiller

    We, as humans, are the crux of the problem. We need to keep our "herd" in check. Although we have done a good job of eliminating human predators, we should learn from the lesson of the lemmings. Due to overcrowding from over population, we are our own worst enemies and we have begun to turn on each other.
    As for the horse herds, this documentary failed to demonstrate how these beautiful creatures have been forced into smaller and smaller territories due to human encroachment, ie freeways, developments. The number of horses is not the problem, the problem is the reduction of available space to run, procreate and forage. Introducing lions is not a good idea. We need to address the fact that, although we do not hunt horses, we are the "predators". While it's simple to blame wild animals for damages to our neighborhoods, when are we going to admit to ourselves that as humans, we have been destroying the homes and backyards of these creatures for centures as our own population goes unchecked?
    I have always thought it intersting that humans devalue wildlife when it is in abundance. A good example is the mass slaughter of the buffalo. It is not until it is near extinction that we panic and romantacize the loss. Over the decades, as humans overpopulate, I have witnessed a devaluation of human life that parallels this. As we have eliminated our natural predators and our population spirals unchecked, I am witness to the emergence of a violent and predatory culture.

    1. ZarathustraSpeaks

      Just a quick point about Lemmings for what its worth. The long held false myth that they somehow commit mass suicide is a just that, a myth created by Walt Disney many years ago and has held on ever since then. Just Google it under truth about lemmings.

    2. Richie Cahill

      When lemming population explodes they begin to migrate outwards and their mortality rate plummets. they die trying to cross rivers or by predators from boldly moving without the cover of night. You are correct that they do not commit mass suicide but their fairly regular population explosions are pretty much that on an individual basis.

    3. ZarathustraSpeaks

      Ok, sounds like you know more about his than I do. I was really surprised years ago when I learned the general myth about mass suicides was not really based on truth and the picture I had in my mind was probably created by a Disney video. I still hear references to this occasionally but you apparently had a different intent than what I thought in your reference.

    4. margiemiller

      Thank you for pointing out the myth of the lemmings. I read an article many years ago (before the internet) in a magazine that Lemmings commited mass suicide under conditions of crowding and until now, believed it was true. I do think though,through observation, that overcrowding of any living thing leads to dis-ease physically, mentally and spiritually.

    5. robertallen1

      You are right on point, especially when it comes to human populations. Shame you have powerful entities such as the Catholic Church which will do anything to increase the fold, no matter what the cost.

  20. Derek Crawford

    What crap. The only thing at stake here is steak. Bovine dollars from cattle, cattle, cattle that foul our streams, lakes and lands. And anybody that thinks wolves are dangerous would run from a herd of angry butterflies. The wolves were not killed off because they were a threat, they were slaughtered for greed. The beef industry cares only for its money and it cares not what it stinks up, kills, fouls or whom it offends. I personally would rather see the wolves than the endless square miles of cattle running over private property knocking down fences, defacating in my front yard, trampling my gardens, and bellowing their stupidity throughout the seasons. Give 'em to the wolves!!!

  21. NAND Gate

    I cant believe these losers who think its a bad idea. Drink some concrete and harden up.

  22. Joey Smallwood

    We finally know enough to let dominant predators back into the eco system. Forests die within 100 years of losing their predators as they get overgrazed to no end. Anyone arguing against attempts to restore Nature to God's Paradise is an uneducated human who is trying to interpret something they will never understand. Good work to the biologists and I'm on your side.

  23. KasparHauser4

    I think the biologists should put their money where their mouth is. We should feed one of their babies to the wolves.

    1. manohar sullad

      why not start with all human babies instead of only there's?
      there are too many of us and hardly any wild life left.
      will chose over wild life instead of human or baby life even though i know wild life will be extinct because of humans

    2. His Forever

      Speak for your own children! I'm a very "green" Repubican, but I certainly value my kids lives more than any wildlife anywhere. You're scrary!

    3. manohar sullad

      @C_and_N:: there are too many of us and the day will come when we will eat each other when we exhausted all the resources. This agriculture boom and fishing and farming can only serve our population to a certain level. After that the easiest meat will be ours. I don't want to have that to my children. There are scientific evidence that when a population of any species grows above a certain upper limit extinction because of predation from there own kind for food is inevitable.
      The entire human population going 100% vegetarian won't help us as it can handle only as much it can handle

    4. His Forever

      I've not know of any human wolf kills in the U.S.A. at all, have you? Lions occasionally, but not wolves. We can live with the wolves, we just have to be wise about it.

  24. Muzar

    they have too many elks? i dont mind eating elk. i rather eat an animal that had a good life in nature than an industrial cow.

    1. KasparHauser4

      EXACTLY!! They could have brought in a private contractor to thin out the elk herd and he could have sold the meat to upscale markets nationwide. No need to introduce a dangerous predator. The problem is of course is that many of these science guys actually hate and despise anybody who isn't an Emerson or a Thoreaux.

    2. Sieben Stern

      I'm not sure the park wants to have to deal with a private company making money off of the elk - it is supposed to be a natural place untouched by humans - not private business new grazing land :/

    3. manohar sullad

      why you call a natural predator a dangerous predator?
      those biologists are doing a good job.

      you said:: "No need to introduce a dangerous predator"
      so that you can feed yourself and your relatives instead of those almost extinct animals?

  25. Gary V

    It just proves that Man should not mess around with the balance of Nature, it has been doing just fine for millions of years on it's own. We need to learn how to live alongside Nature & not try to control it, all other animals have got just as much right to be here as we do. We need to learn how to control ourselves not Nature & work with it not against it. The only population that we need to control is our own. If Humans come into conflict with Nature it is only because we are in the wrong place, it's not rocket Science is it ? We are supposed to be the most intelligent species on the planet, it's about time that we started to use that intelligence. It does not help that some people still use outdated books & myths to try to justify our so called God given right to abuse this planet.

    1. Jack1952

      We are a part of nature. Anything humans do they do under the impression that they must do this to survive. Quite often they are wrong. Over population happens within all species not just man. Most species have been able to deal with it using a natural process. This will also happen to humans one way or another. The least painful way is through education and an equitable economic system for everyone. The industrialized nations are already controlling population growth through the personal choice of it citizens. They have the economic security, social safety nets and the education to make the choice to have smaller families. The third world does not.
      To say that when humans come into conflict with nature they are in the wrong place means that we are in the wrong place no matter where we are. No matter where we live we come into conflict with the elements and have had to change the environment to suit our needs.

    2. manohar sullad

      we are not part of nature because of our super intelligence.
      as for the rest of the reply thumbs up.

      The best way to stop human breeding is making a law where a person wont get a job in private or public if he has more than 1 child. This way earths population will be down to 3.5 billion in a few decades. This sounds like a fairly tale, but can be done. look at China 2 child policy has slowed it population growth rate .

    3. StillRV

      Manohar; 1) In China they has been massive numbers of infanticides. Parents were using any means possible to eliminate additional children. Many of those means quite horrifying.
      2) If a law such as you speak of were put in place the same would happen all over the world. Not to mention your job idea is poorly thought out. One kid or no job?! Ok so more people on welfare, heck legally forced onto welfare regardless of their ability to work. That's just grand.
      3) Incentives like that do not promote people to keep their privates to themselves or even to use safe sex. It just leads to a huge spike in abortions and the aforesaid infanticide.
      4) You want population control why not go kill granny? she had her time in the sun so why not? Fact is that reproduction rates in most countries are declining and in most 1st world nations are below sustainability level. That means less than 2 offspring to each parent couple. The growth in population is on the other end with the elderly living longer and longer. So rather than taking the lives of the young and unborn why not the old. Or at least stop saving them. Heart Attack? Tough luck that's your call to the next world, nice knowing ya.

    4. manohar sullad

      StillRV:: Why afraid of abortions?
      Population can be controlled only be means of stopping the breeding age not killing granny.

      The biggest fear is it is us who are going to be extinct , not life. Life will evolve. Because of our population explosion we have doomed ourself. Its a vicious cycle once the food source runs out you will see how from 7 billion it will be down to just a few millions. May be not in our times but very very soon.

    5. Jack1952

      We may very well become extinct. Extinction is a natural process. Most species that have lived on earth are now extinct. Objectively speaking, our extinction is no better or worse than any other extinction. The odds are, however that we will survive for quite awhile. This doesn't mean there won't be problems; maybe very serious problems from our point of view; but the earth will still be here. Doom is for the fatalistic. I prefer to be optimistic. It makes life a little easier. It also allows me to make decisions that could help the problem and not throw my hands up in despair.

    6. manohar sullad

      you are right, we must stop breeding infinitely.
      the only way to do is rise the food prices spiraling out of control and exhausting petrol and diesel and making the house prices sky rocket such that the breeding group will never be able to afford one

    7. Jack1952

      Human overpopulation is a recent phenomenon due to scientific advancements. These aids that help in the increase in survival rates has given us a feeling of superiority and that we are above nature and not part of it. Overpopulation will solve itself one way or another. It has to because we are a part of nature. If population growth is unlimited without any negative effects to our lives then we are indeed above nature. We also would have nothing to worry about. I doubt very few of us really believe that.
      No one is born and upon reaching consciousness, makes the decision to manufacture cars and highways and smokestack industries. We are born into our individual situations and make short term survival decisions. These decisions have inexorably brought us to the situation that we are in today. It is not the result of evil or greed but the culmination of all of us making the day to day decisions and postponing the long term ones. This is the natural process of survival. Never before have the long term decisions been so important but like every other living species we do not have the experience at to do it effectively.

    8. avd420

      You seem to be fighting a losing battle Jack, but keep fighting it, because you're right.

  26. from212

    this seems to be missing a video between Part 1 and 2.

    When he is talking about the Pyramid it cuts off.

    1. Gary V

      Yep your right, there is definitely a bit missing.

  27. Sieben Stern

    how about we try and control OUR end of the population so we don't have to live in THEIR backyards. 7 billion of us, and only thousands of them. not rocket science.

    1. Guest

      very true but also, most of those 7 billions live among rats, mice, squirrels, spiders, ants...they live in cities where some kids never see wildlife bigger that a cat.

    2. misterwong

      I dunno,Az,I've seen some damn big rats.Scientists are trying to allow predators to correct the imbalance unwittingly created as man controlled more of their habitat.As threats to our saftey and competetors for food and space,we killed them as pests.They are essential to regulate a natural balance that man cannot(unless we exterminate everything)By releasing these predators in close proximity to human urban areas,(an artificial environment)the old struggle for space and food will reappear.Like Dingoes in Australia and tigers in India and Southeast Asia,coexistance could be tenuous.Hell,I know that it's us who're in their backyard.We are the interlopers,but whattya gonna do?

    3. Sieben Stern

      well, they can be welcomed back to nature with open arms. we're humans, we will adapt to let everything live in it's proper place and to its proper cycle. :3