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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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RESEARCH ARTICLE
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 257-267

Dewilding ‘Wolf-land’: Exploring the Historical Dimensions of Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence in Ireland


Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric), Faculty of Landscape and Society, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Ås, Norway

Correspondence Address:
Dara Sands
Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric), Faculty of Landscape and Society, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Ås
Norway
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/cs.cs_118_21

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Fostering coexistence between people and wildlife is crucial to both the conservation and restoration of wildlife populations across the globe. Yet, so far research exploring human-wildlife conflict and coexistence has been largely ahistorical, with little focus on the historical trajectories through which human-wildlife interactions have shifted from coexistence to conflicts which have led to wildlife eradication in the past. This paper responds by examining the historical drivers of change which disrupted a long history of human-wolf coexistence in Ireland. Drawing on an extensive review of primary historical sources and secondary literature and applying analytical tools from environmental history, the paper first illustrates the diverse practices and attitudes which helped sustain a continuous period of coexistence up to the seventeenth century. The paper then illustrates how coexistence unravelled during the early modern period following the island's integration into an expanding global capitalist system under a colonial regime who redefined Ireland as a primitive 'Wolf-land'. By engaging with the historical dimensions of human-wildlife interactions and drawing attention to how wildlife has become enrolled in past social conflicts, the article highlights the importance of historical perspectives for informing current strategies aimed at positively transforming human-wildlife conflict towards inclusive and socially just forms of coexistence. Abstract in Irish: https://bit.ly/33kuqHY


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