Deter predation of livestock by using shock/electronic dog-training collars to reduce human-wildlife conflict

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • Five studies evaluated the effects of using shock/electronic dog-training collars to deter predation of livestock to reduce human-wildlife conflict. All five studies were in the USA.





  • Human-wildlife conflict (5 studies): Three of four replicated studies (including two controlled studies), in the USA, found that electric shock collars reduced livestock predation or bait consumption by wolves, whilst one found that they did not reduce wolf bait consumption. One replicated, controlled study in the USA found that electric shock collars reduced the frequency of attacks by captive coyotes on lambs.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated study in 1997 on pasture at a site in Utah, USA (Andelt et al. 1999) found that electric shock collars reduced the frequency of attacks by captive coyotes Canis latrans on lambs. During week 1 (five coyotes each spending 4–6 hours with lambs) there was a total of 10 attempted lamb attacks. During week 2 (five coyotes each spending two hours with lambs) there was one attempted attack. There were no attempted attacks in week 4, one in week 7 and none in weeks 11, 16 or 22 (five coyotes each spending two hours with lambs during each study week). All attempted attacks ceased upon electric shock administration. Five captive male coyotes (aged 5–9 years), which killed lambs in trials, were studied. Each was fitted with a Model 100 Lite electronic dog-training collar, set at maximum shock intensity. During each trial, one coyote and one lamb were held in a 679 m2 enclosure. Shocks were administered when the coyote actively pursued the lamb.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated, controlled study in 2002 of captive wolves Canis lupus in Minnesota, USA (Shivik et al. 2003) found that electronic dog-training collars did not reduce the amount of food consumed by wolves Canis lupus. Wolves fitted with dog-training collars, which activated when close to the food, consumed 43% of food offered. This was not significantly different to the 84% of food eaten by wolves where no deterrent was used. Four groups of 1–4 captive wolves were each offered 1 kg of sled-dog chow for one hour during June or July 2002. The wolves wore electronic dog-training collars, which emitted an electric shock when ≤2 m from the food. Four further groups of 1–4 wolves were offered the same food, without any deterrent.

    Study and other actions tested
  3. A replicated study in 1998–2001 on a cattle farm in Wisconsin, USA (Schultz et al. 2005) found that electric shock collars deterred gray wolves Canis lupis from predating livestock. In the first year, one calf was killed (possibly by non-collared wolves) after the alpha-female wolf was fitted with a shock collar, compared to nine killed earlier that year. Two were killed over the following two years (by non-collared wolves). A second wolf, collared in the fourth study year and thought to be the new alpha female of the pack, appeared to stay off the farm while the collar were operational. Other pack members continued predating calves, and the pack was subsequently translocated. A female wolf was fitted with an electric shock-collar on 14 May 1998. This activated when she was ≤300 m from cattle pasture. A replacement collar, operating from 26 April to 15 August 1999, beeped and shocked when she came within 0.4 km. In 2000, the collar operated from 26 April–August with beeping only (no shock). The second female wolf’s shock-collar operated from 31 May to 13 August 2001.

    Study and other actions tested
  4. A replicated, randomized, controlled, before-and-after study in 2003–2004 in a forested area in Michigan, USA (Hawley et al. 2009) found that wolves Canis lupus wearing electric shock collars avoided baited areas where shocks were administered, but aversion did not persist. Shocked wolves made fewer visits to the detection zone when shocked (treatment period: 9 visits/wolf) relative to pre-treatment (19 visits/wolf) and post-treatment (16 visits/wolf) periods. There was no corresponding decrease for non-shocked wolves (treatment: 18 visits/wolf; pre-treatment: 21; post-treatment: 19). Shocked wolves spent less time/visit in detection zones during the treatment period (13 minutes/wolf) relative to pre-treatment (77 minutes/wolf) and post-treatment (20 minutes/wolf) periods. No decrease was detected for non-shocked wolves (treatment: 63 minutes/wolf; pre-treatment: 76; post-treatment: 47). Ten wolves (one per pack) were radio-collared in 2003–2004. Five wolves (randomly selected) also received electric shock collars (Innotek Training Shock Collar). A dead deer was placed in each pack’s territory every two to three days. Collared wolves ≤75 m from baits were detected and logged over two weeks (pre-treatment). Treatment wolves, ≤30 m from baits, were shocked (for 13 seconds) over the following two weeks (treatment). For two further weeks (post-treatment), collared wolf visits to the 75 m detection zone were logged.

    Study and other actions tested
  5. A replicated study in 2005–2006 in a mostly forested area of Wisconsin, USA (Rossler et al. 2012) found that electric shock collars reduced visits by gray wolves Canis lupus to baited zones. Shock-collared wolves spent less time in shock zones when collars were active than did wolves without shock collars (with shock collar: 1 min/day in baited zone; no shock collar: 14 min/day). The pattern continued post-treatment when collars were not activated (shock collar: 1 min/day; no shock collar: 21 min/day). Fourteen adult wolves (one in each pack) were caught. Ten had a radio collar and shock unit fitted. Four had a radio collar only fitted. Each pack was baited with a dead deer every three days. The shock zone was a 70-m radius from the bait. Shock collars were automatically activated within this zone during a 40-day shock period. Bait placement and monitoring continued for a further 40-day non-shock period. Radio data loggers recorded wolf visits to bait sites between May and September of 2005 and 2006.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Littlewood, N.A., Rocha, R., Smith, R.K., Martin, P.A., Lockhart, S.L., Schoonover, R.F., Wilman, E., Bladon, A.J., Sainsbury, K.A., Pimm S. and Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Terrestrial Mammal Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for terrestrial mammals excluding bats and primates. Synopses of Conservation Evidence Series. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

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Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Terrestrial Mammal Conservation
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Terrestrial Mammal Conservation - Published 2020

Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

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