A new study finds little evidence that lethal predator control does anything to help ranchers.

A new study published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment found that there’s little scientific evidence that killing predators actually accomplishes the goal of protecting livestock.

The study reviewed previous research attempting to measure the effectiveness of various predator-control methods in North America and Europe. Some studies looked at whether killing predators meant fewer livestock deaths, while others examined the success of nonlethal deterrents, such as the use of guard dogs and flag-lined ropes or wires.

The study found that most of the research doesn’t hold up scientifically. Only two of the studies were deemed top notch because they took into consideration the possible effects of things like disease, weather and other elements that could influence livestock deaths. But neither study focused on the effectiveness of killing predators. Instead the papers concluded that certain nonlethal predator-control methods helped ward off future attacks on livestock.

“People deserve to hear the options and understand the evidence, especially if our government claims to be science-based in our policies.

The new study shows there’s not enough science to support the killing of these animals. “Any government action that destroys wildlife should be scrutinized to a higher level.”

A move away from killing predators would require a culture shift among ranchers, who often jump to lethal predator control because it offers a quick and easy fix with short-term results. “People are instant gratification creatures,” he explains. “A lot of ranchers are very comfortable with that model.”

Read the article from National Geographic.