Human Dimensions I

Contributed Oral Presentations

SESSION NUMBER: 17

Contributed paper sessions will be available on-demand for the duration of the conference, then again at the conclusion of the conference.

 

Motivations and Support for Turkey Hunting Regulations in Illinois
Eric M. Walberg; Craig A. Miller
Hunters have diverse motivations for pursing the eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) in Illinois. Understanding experience preferences among hunters may assist wildlife managers in making management decisions that improve hunter satisfaction and participation. Our objectives were: 1) develop a typology of turkey hunters in Illinois based on turkey hunting motivations; 2) determine satisfaction with the spring turkey season; and 3) identify demographic differences between turkey hunter groups. In 2019, we mailed a self-administered questionnaire to a random sample of 5,000 turkey hunters in Illinois. We received 2,601 usable questionnaires for a 54% response rate. Respondents indicated the importance of 15-items across three motivational dimensions for hunting (affiliation with family or friends; appreciation of nature; and achievement of turkey hunting goals). We used cluster analysis to group hunters into four types using motivation items. Variance was largest among affiliation and achievement items. One-third of respondents (34%) were motivated primarily by affiliation motivations with achievement motivations being moderately important. The second largest group (29%) indicated affiliation and achievement motivations were equally important, had the least hunting experience during the spring turkey season in Illinois (x = 11 years), and were most likely to be a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) (23%). A third group (19%) found affiliation motivations important and achievement motivations slightly important, while being older (x = 54 years old) and experienced turkey hunters (x = 14 years). The fourth group (18%) were the most experienced turkey hunters (x = 14 years) and oldest (x = 56 years old), though each motivation was moderately important overall. Overall satisfaction was not significantly different between groups, though satisfaction with turkey behavior and harvest was significantly different between groups. Our research suggests that overall satisfaction was similar between groups, though there are significant differences in satisfaction and demographics.
Propensity Score Matching for Confounded Data: Help for Detecting a Human Impact on Wildlife
Rebecca L. Taylor; Chadwick V. Jay; William S. Beatty; Anthony S. Fischbach
We introduce propensity score-based matching methods as a technique to account for confounded data when estimating a single human impact on a wildlife population. We use potential effect of ships on walrus behavior as a concrete example, where concern is that ship exposure may cause walruses to spend more time swimming and less time foraging or resting. Walrus exposure to ships is confounded by environmental covariates which may influence apparent ship effects. For example, walruses are ~20% more likely to be ship-exposed when resting on land instead of ice, and their response to disturbance may differ between substrates. Propensity score-based matching methods can help overcome such confounding because interest lies in the effect of the single “treatment” variable, ship exposure, and environmental covariates simply create nuisance effects. A propensity score model is a type of treatment model that determines the propensity for a unit to be treated based on confounding covariates. This equates to regressing confounders (environmental covariates) on the treatment (ship exposure) rather than the outcome (walrus behavior). The propensity score is thus the probability a walrus falls into the ship-exposed category based on the confounders. Walruses are then matched to each other based on their propensity to be ship-exposed. If matching is ideal, the exposure effect is simply the difference between behavior of ship-exposed walruses and unexposed walruses. If matching is less than ideal, a standard outcome model (a regression of ship exposure and environmental covariates on walrus behavior) is applied to the matched data to further reduce bias in the estimated effect. We compare estimates of the ship exposure effect from propensity score-based matching, outcome modeling, and the two methods combined. Propensity score-based matching methods apply to other human impact to wildlife studies where interest lies in isolating the human impact.
Assessing Public Support for Rattlesnake Conservation in Ohio
Andrew S. Hoffman; William E. Peterman
Ophidiophobia, or fear of snakes, is the most common specific phobia worldwide and has likely contributed to global declines in snake populations. However, venomous snake bites in developed nations are rare and very rarely fatal. Given that snake venom is commonly used in medicines that treat severe illness, it is not hyperbole to state that, in North America, snakes save more human lives than they threaten. Timber rattlesnakes are found throughout the eastern deciduous forests of North America but have declined dramatically due in part to a long history of fear-driven persecution. This decline has been particularly severe in Ohio where populations were almost completely eradicated. We surveyed public opinion of snakes generally and support for rattlesnake conservation in Ohio and compared the efficacy of potential outreach techniques. Our objectives were to (i) quantify the proportion of Ohio residents that hold negative views of snakes, (ii) compare results between Ohio residents broadly and those that spend time and live in areas where rattlesnakes occur, and (iii) assess the efficacy of different outreach materials in fostering more support for snake conservation. We found links between negative perceptions of rattlesnakes and a variety of factors including experience with snakes and the outdoors. We also found that different messaging approaches for outreach can have markedly different outcomes in their ability to change negative perceptions of snakes. This work is the first detailed assessment of its type for snakes and fills major gaps in our understanding of the scale of public resistance to snake and rattlesnake conservation.
Identifying Perspectives on Big Game Management to Improve Science Communication
Rhiannon Jakopak; Jessica Western; Kevin Monteith
Many wildlife agencies, research groups, and non-profits communicate scientific findings with non-scientific audiences to enhance public understanding of the trade-offs involved in management recommendations. Nevertheless, scientists often fail to consider perspectives held by their audience, potentially hindering the effectiveness of their efforts. Despite broad public interest in big game, stakeholders may hold different perspectives that would render a uniform message ineffective. To inform science communication efforts regarding big game management, we explored perspectives across stakeholder groups regarding mule deer management in Wyoming, USA. Using a Q-methodology framework, a mixed qualitative-quantitative approach that identifies similarities in perspectives, we interviewed individuals (n = 37) representing diverse groups (e.g., ranchers, hunters, conservation non-profits, etc.) regarding the issues they perceive are negatively affecting mule deer in Wyoming. We found four categories of issues participants perceived to be negatively affecting mule deer (59% of variance explained). Perspective 1 (n = 16, 30.5% variance explained) was characterized by concerns around political and public interests overriding science in mule deer management, as well as the negative role of habitat fragmentation. Perspective 2 (n = 8, 12.4% variance) was similarly characterized by political and public interests, in addition to hunting pressures. Perspective 3 (n = 5, 9.1% variance) was characterized by the negative role of predators. Perspective 4 (n = 2) was characterized by uncertainty. Concepts related to public and political interests, predators, and hunting distinguished the 4 perspectives, whereas white-tailed deer populations, forest management practices, and female harvest were similar. In all, the primary concern with mule deer management was not unified across stakeholders. By exploring stakeholder perspectives regarding mule deer, we quantitatively found the four perspectives and qualitatively described the reasons for those perspectives. These results articulate previously unknown points of divergence and consensus among stakeholders, which may serve as productive building points for future communication.
Developing State Wildlife Agency Engagement Capacity Through Certificate Programs
Barbara Avers; Diane Doberneck; Emily Pomeranz; Alexa Warwick
Engagement of stakeholders is increasingly recognized as an important component of biodiversity conservation and natural resource management. Lack of community-engagement professional development opportunities for wildlife professionals can limit the frequency and effectiveness of stakeholder engagement. To build engagement capacity, staff at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Wildlife Division and faculty at Michigan State University have partnered since 2017 to offer a week-long basic community-engagement certificate and a two-day advanced community-engagement certificate for state wildlife agency professionals in Michigan. Each year between approximately 15-20 individuals participate in either program. The basic certificate program was developed so that MDNR Wildlife Division staff would have a broader understanding of community engagement principles and practices and a more engaged and inclusive approach to stakeholder involvement in the management of wildlife resources. The advanced certificate is intended to further wildlife professionals’ abilities to develop and evaluate community-engagement strategies and plans, including choosing the best tools and techniques for different kinds of stakeholder engagement. In this study we describe the development and implementation of the basic and advanced community-engagement certificate programs and share program evaluation results from over 70 responses regarding changes in community-engagement competencies. We will also briefly describe additional efforts to support stakeholder engagement capacity by MDNR Wildlife Division staff.
Predicting Pasture and Forest Landowner Intention to Create Early Successional Habitat
Hannah Marie Coovert; Rene X. Valdez; Dustin Martin; Lesley P. Bulluck
As human land uses expand across the landscape, the management practices of private landowners are an essential part of effective conservation. Early successional habitats (ESH) and the species that depend on them are a priority in the eastern United States, and efforts to create ESH on private lands has primarily focused on forest landowners and timber harvests. Private pasture lands in a forested landscape present an additional opportunity to create and maintain ESH, yet our understanding of landowner values and attitudes about management strategies in pastures is lacking. To address this, we implemented a survey of private landowners in five Virginia counties who own at least 25 acres at or above 2000 feet elevation. This is a high priority region for declining bird species. Our primary objective was to understand what influences private landowner intention to carry out seven ESH management strategies for the benefit of wildlife in the next five years. We used boosted regression trees to determine what factors best predicted the intention to carry out each strategy. We were able to predict landowner intention to manage (accuracy > 75%) with only a small subset of predictors for open pasture and timber management strategies. Landowner values were not consistent across the different management strategies; those most likely to reduce mowing and/or grazing valued ecological aspects of their land (i.e., pollinator habitat and water quality) whereas those most likely to harvest timber valued hunting and revenue. Past experience with wildlife management was the strongest predictor of likelihood to reduce mowing and grazing. Our results suggest that expanding outreach efforts to include pasture management options for creating ESH would engage a broader set of landowners, especially if such efforts highlighted the benefits to pollinator species and water quality, as well as the enhanced opportunities for hunting and non-hunting recreation.
Long-Term Assessment of the Change in Attitudes Towards and Knowledge of Black-Footed Ferrets and Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs in Montana
Keifer L. Titus; David S. Jachowski
Across the Northern Great Plains (NGP) there have been significant declines in several grassland obligate species, including black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) and the critically endangered black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes). Conservation and recovery of these species is complicated due to a mosaic of landownership and diverse societal and cultural perspectives regarding wildlife conservation. Initial survey work conducted in the region 30 years ago immediately prior to the reintroduction of black-footed ferrets described widely differing attitudes and knowledge among different stakeholder groups in Montana; permitting the opportunity to revisit this work and document a potential shift in public attitudes towards this keystone species and endangered carnivore. The objectives of this study were to (1) assess the relative levels of temporal change in attitudes towards and knowledge of prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets among Montana residents, and (2) assess perceptions towards the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the context of a long-term restoration attempt not succeeding. We conducted a mail survey of Montana residents in 2019, replicating the methods of a 1993 study, in order to assess current attitudes and knowledge towards black-footed ferrets among five stakeholder groups (local and statewide ranchers, urban and rural residents, and members of conservation organizations). Our results demonstrated similar differences in attitudes and knowledge towards black-footed ferrets and prairie dogs among stakeholder groups over time, where ranchers maintained most negative attitudes and rural residents were most knowledgeable. We also observed varying levels of acceptance among stakeholders regarding the ESA and black-footed ferret recovery, with ranchers having the least confidence in ESA recovery potential. Our findings highlight the dynamic nature of public attitudes towards endangered species conservation efforts in working landscapes, and highlight the importance of continually reassessing how attitudes and knowledge change over time to potentially identify future opportunities and hurdles to endangered wildlife restoration.
How Decision Makers View the Shift of Wildlife Conservation Challenges in the Southeast United States
Kathryn Jewell; M. Nils Peterson; Mallory Martin; Adam Terando; Kathryn T. Stevenson
Effective wildlife management requires understanding conservation challenges and developing strategic responses to them. Outlining these challenges is the first step in natural resources decision making. Research has documented how wildlife conservation practitioners and the public understand conservation challenges, but the perspectives of people making conservation decisions remains a blind spot in efforts to strategically manage wildlife. In this case study, we interviewed directors and board members of state wildlife agencies (hereafter decision makers) in the southeast United States to gauge their perspectives on past and current wildlife conservation challenges, and how best to respond to them. We utilized a naturalistic qualitative approach. Results suggest that insufficient funding was viewed as the primary conservation challenge across the southeast, in the past and the present. Declining agency relevancy and wildlife disease were also mentioned as important challenges and were perceived as being more common now than they were in the last thirty years. Decision makers described responses to these challenges as working to improve the relevance of the agency, land acquisition and creating new partnerships. These results highlight a mismatch between challenges and solutions, particularly in relation to generating financial support for wildlife conservation, and the increased importance of engaging new, more diverse, stakeholder groups.
Effects of Stated Attribute Importance on Satisfaction: Who Is Satisfied with Public Access to Waterfowl Hunting?
Matthew P. Gruntorad; Jeffery J. Lusk; Mark P. Vrtiska; Christopher J. Chizinski
Recent studies have demonstrated that a lack of land access is one of the leading causes for waterfowl hunter dissatisfaction when expectations are not met. Clarifying how hunt-specific experiences affect satisfaction among more avid and less avid waterfowl hunters. Our objective was to gain a deeper understanding of how the value hunters place in various attributes of a waterfowl hunting-experience affect satisfaction with the amount of public land available to hunt. Using a self-administered survey questionnaire, we asked waterfowl hunters to describe the importance of each of several attributes to their waterfowl hunting experience. We used an exploratory factor analysis to reduce attributes associated with waterfowl hunting to three basic factors (success, mastery, and hunting conditions). Using cluster analysis, we classified waterfowl hunters into one of three groups, described as 1) view mastery attributes as extremely unimportant, 2) view mastery as important and success as unimportant, and 3) view mastery as important and success as extremely important. Hunters who viewed mastery attributes as extremely unimportant were more satisfied the amount of public land available for hunting than hunters who valued both mastery and success attributes (X2 = 9.12, P < 0.05). Our findings reveal that not only does the Nebraska waterfowl-hunter population value a diverse array of hunting attributes, but improving hunter satisfaction may require separate management objectives depending on what attributes hunters value. The amount of public land available can be managed directly by wildlife agencies. Given the recognized importance of increasing or maintaining waterfowl-hunter participation, it may be important for management agencies to gain knowledge of what waterfowl hunters view as important, and to make proper management decisions to enhance hunter satisfaction.
Occupancy Modeling of Free-Ranging Domestic Dogs Around Human Communitieswithin the Pine Ridge Reservation
Camille L. Griffith; Elizabeth A. Flaherty; Patrick A. Zollner
Overpopulation of free-ranging dogs are a common issue within poverty-stricken communities around the globe. These dogs pose a serious ecological risk to wildlife and cause damage to agriculture, forestry, as well as the environment. These problems exacerbate the economic and social challenges faced by these communities. Twice within the past decade, on the Pine Ridge Reservation, the Oglala Lakota tribal communities have enacted programs resulting in the removal of dogs in response to attacks on humans. These programs removed dogs using lethal control methods as well as non-lethal options. Despite these initiatives, packs of unowned dogs remain common across the Reservation. To inform management of these free-ranging dogs, we installed trail cameras at 75 locations in and around six separate communities. We analyzed presence-absent data using occupancy modeling to identify landscape level features that correlated with occupancy. These correlates included features such as distance from center of town, water, and food sources as well as comparisons between these six separate communities where data was gathered. Comparisons of models using AIC and likelihood ratio tests indicate that the occupancy of free-ranging dogs differed between communities on the Reservation more so than it did based upon landscape level habitat variables. Our results also illustrate how dog occupancy decreases as a function of distance from center of towns and how variables such as human population size influence occupancy on the Reservation. Broadly, this study highlights the importance of including human mediated differences in study sites when managing free-ranging dog populations, especially in poverty-stricken communities.

 

Virtual
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