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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


The common raven (Corvus corax; raven) is a large, highly intelligent passerine songbird with a Holarctic distribution attributable to a high degree of plasticity in its foraging and nesting behavior. Historically, ravens have received special attention in human culture, being either respected or vilified. In the western United States, ravens are exploiting the expanding human enterprise, which provides them with unintended subsidies of food, water, and breeding locations, allowing ravens to expand their range and increase in population density and resulting in raven depredation threatening species of conservation concern. From a conservation biology perspective, increased raven populations present a difficult challenge in managing human–wildlife conflict. Some raven control measures are effective empirically but present ethical dilemmas, are economically expensive, or are socially divisive. Current studies seek to better understand raven population dynamics in relation to human land use and to identify socially acceptable ways to ameliorate raven impacts on biodiversity in the American West. The purpose of this paper is to provide readers with summaries of important constraints in the search for how to address deleterious effects of an expanding raven population. Specifically, I describe ethical, legal, social, and biological constraints in relation to calls for lethal control of ravens. Despite these constraints, a conservation strategy may emerge through modeling the relationship between raven presence and reproduction of sensitive prey species, and developing a clearer understanding of raven ecology. Papers in this special issue explore raven population dynamics, conservation consequences, and conservation solutions in detail and reveal innovative ways to address the complex human–wildlife conflict presented by ravens.

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