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Reasons We Should ALL Love Predators

Predators often get a bad rap, but they're actually super cool! They keep the world balanced, make us healthier and safer, even save us money, all while just doing their predator thing. Let's check out some reasons we should ALL love predators!

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1. Because it's fun -- and profitable -- to experience predators in their natural habitat

NPS Jay Elhard / Via yellowstonepark.com

Experiencing predators in their natural habitat is incredible and unlike anything else. Turns out, I'm not the only one who feels this way! Predators, such as wolves, significantly increase tourism dollars. It makes more economic sense to keep the predators than to kill them! Wolf watching even brings in more money than elk hunting. Consider Africa -- would you go on a safari if you were unable to see lions, cheetahs, leopards...?

2. Because big predators decrease deer-car accidents, saving lives and money

USDA / Via flickr.com

Did you know that you are 150x more likely to die from a car accident with a deer than by a cougar (AKA mountain lion AKA puma)? And cougars, given that they eat deer, actually decrease the frequency of car-deer accidents. Even the New York Times recognizes this benefit of cougars!

3. Because predators decrease the price of food and the need to use pesticides

Wikimedia / Via upload.wikimedia.org

Raptors (predatory birds) and some predatory mammals (such as bobcats) actually decrease the cost of food and decrease the need for pesticides. By eating the rodents that eat our crops, they decrease rodent-caused crop loss, thus decreasing the cost of food. They also decrease the necessity for rodenticides, as they control the rodent population. That not only decreases costs, but also increases health -- of the food, of the predators, and, ultimately of us. It even affects our pets! These are the same benefits you could get in your garden, if pests are eating your plants. Finally, if, rather than working with predators, ranchers kill them, more livestock will die as a result. This is true not only with wolves, but also with pumas.

4. Because predators help stop the spread of disease in people

Wikimedia / Via upload.wikimedia.org

Predators can play an important role in controlling diseases spread by prey species. For example, by pumas eating deer and bobcats eating rodents, they decrease incidences of diseases like lyme disease. Way to go, predators!

5. Because predators make the world GREEN -- not brown

Ripple & Beschta / Via mountainlion.org

So there's this thing called the Green World Hypothesis. It tells us why the world is green, and the answer is, you guessed it, predators! Basically, it says this:

WITH PREDATORS: predators decrease prey, prey decrease plants

so Predators increase Plants, and the world is green.

WITHOUT PREDATORS: prey decrease plants, and the world is brown.

PS - The illustration is from Zion National Park. Check out the study!

6. Because predators restore the natural balance and biodiversity

SamTomasz / Via Twitter: @samtomasz

Okay, but why do we want a green world? Because it's natural and it increases biodiversity! Where there are plants, there are little critters that live in and depend on the plants.

PS - The cartoon illustrates "Landscape of Fear," which is an indirect way predators keep the world green and biodiverse.

7. Because predators make Yellowstone more awesome

View this video on YouTube

Sustainable Human / Via youtube.com

After the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone, the landscape became healthier, greener, and more biodiverse. Awesome!

8. Because predators make the ocean cool -- and cool the planet

View this video on YouTube

Nat Geo WILD / Via youtube.com

Sea otters are a keystone species in kelp forests, which we have in California. Without sea otters, sea urchin populations explode, and kelp populations decline. (Let's call it the Green Ocean Hypothesis!) It turns out that not only do kelp forests help maintain ecosystem biodiversity, but they also play a role in sequestering atmospheric carbon. AKA sea otters help reduce climate change!

9. Because predators make other species healthier, too

Wikimedia / Via upload.wikimedia.org

That's right, it's actually good for prey species to have predators around! By eating the weak and sick (what they can most easily capture), predators make the prey population healthier! And apex predators don't just help prey species; they also help scavengers and other predators gain a meal. Also, protecting land for predators, which need lots of space, also protects the land for other species!

10. Because the life of a predator is just as important as the life of another animal!

Wikimedia / Via upload.wikimedia.org

If you dislike predators because they eat other, innocent animals, remember that the predator needs to eat to survive, too. And remember everything that we learned -- predators are actually beneficial to ecosystems, humans, and even the prey species they eat. Predators are necessary! Want to help predators in your area? Spread the word! (Example: share this post. :) ) And, Google it! There are organizations around the country and world that work to protect their local predators. So what are you waiting for? Get involved!

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