Action: Control populations of wild herbivores
Key messagesRead our guidance on Key messages before continuing
- We found no studies that evaluated the effects, on peatland vegetation, of controlling populations of wild herbivores.
‘We found no studies’ means that we have not yet found any studies that have directly evaluated this action during our systematic journal and report searches. Therefore we have been unable to assess whether or not the action is effective or has any harmful impacts. Please get in touch if you know of such a study for this action.
Herbivores are animals that eat plants. Wild herbivores on temperate peatlands include deer, rabbits, hares, kangaroos, feral horses, feral pigs, grouse and slugs. Insects, monkeys and other large mammals are important herbivores in tropical peatlands. Herbivores can damage peatland vegetation directly, by eating it. Herbivores can also have indirect effects on peatland vegetation. Large animals can trample and compact peat. Beavers, introduced to Tierra del Fuego, can flood existing peatlands when they build dams or drain peatlands through channels formed when dams fail (Grootjans et al. 2014). Controlling herbivore populations (e.g. by trapping, shooting or applying pesticides) could reduce these impacts.
Caution: These actions might have negative side effects for the rest of the food chain (e.g. less food for predators of the controlled animals, accumulation of poisons in non-target animals) or could directly kill non-target animals.
Key peatland types where this action may be appropriate: bogs, fens/fen meadows, tropical peat swamps.
Related actions: interventions to address the threat from domestic livestock, which may be the dominant herbivores on peatlands e.g. excluding livestock, changing type of livestock or changing timing of grazing.
Grootjans A., Iturraspe R., Fritz C., Moen A. & Joosten H. (2014) Mires and mire types of Peninsula Mitre, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Mires and Peat, 14, Article 1.