Human Dimensions II

Contributed Oral

How Do Humans Alter Wolf Predation on Native Ungulates?
Kristin Barker, Arthur Middleton, Eric Cole, Sarah Dewey, Ken Mills, John Stephenson, Ben Wise

In recent decades, increasing numbers of ungulates using human-dominated areas have caused management challenges and ecological concerns. The popular “human shield” hypothesis posits that ungulates use these areas, at least in part, to take advantage of the reduced predation risk afforded by large carnivores’ avoidance of humans. This hypothesis is frequently cited but rarely tested, and most existing tests use locations of animals as a proxy for predation risk. It is therefore unknown whether carnivore avoidance of humans actually results in reduced predation risk for ungulates. Indeed, some research reveals instances in which carnivores can alter their behavior to effectively kill prey while avoiding humans. Additionally, or alternatively, humans may increase predation risk by providing food subsidies or other benefits that concentrate ungulate prey in predictable places and times. To evaluate patterns of wolf predation on ungulates, we used cluster searching methods to investigate 170 wolf kills over three winters across Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Land uses in the area range from a busy townsite to closed wildlife winter ranges; supplemental ungulate feeding and popular recreation areas occur near each of these extremes. To quantify whether and how these human influences alter wolf predation, we first modeled wolf kill site selection in the absence of human influence. We then compared this model’s predictions with other models that included up to four anthropogenic predictors: 1) motorized use areas, 2) human presence (i.e., non-motorized use areas), 3) structural developments, and 4) ungulate feeding areas. Results reveal not only whether humans alter predatory behavior of wolves but also the specific aspect(s) of human influence to which wolves most strongly respond. Our work contributes novel information to ecological theories of predator-prey dynamics while helping managers predict how carnivores will affect ungulates as wildlife populations continue to expand into human areas.

Drivers of Long-Term Support for Marine Protected Areas: A Case Study in the Bahamas
William Casola, Mike Rehnberg, M. Nils Peterson, Kristen Blake, Tyana Thorne, R. Brian Langerhans

            Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a critical tool for fisheries and marine mammal conservation and require public support to function effectively. Although much research has focused on ways to develop public support for MPAs, less is known about how and why support for MPAs persists over time. We address this knowledge gap with a case study on Andros Island, The Bahamas by examining how support for MPAs established in the early 2000s has persisted and changed over two decades. We interviewed 162 residents with fisheries and tourism related livelihoods between May and June of 2019. Our results indicated long-term support for MPAs was primarily predicted by: 1) access to alternative sources of income outside fishing, 2) attendance at MPA scoping meetings, 3) age, and 4) level of formal education. Support for future MPA establishment was positively predicted by support for previous MPAs, concern about overfishing, the perception among residents that extant MPAs benefit the community, and residence within tourism-associated settlements. These results suggest public engagement in MPA establishment and preserving fishing livelihoods or providing viable alternatives will promote long-term public support for future MPAs.

Emperor Goose Fall-Winter Hunter Participation and Perspectives
Lara F. Mengak, Liliana Naves, Jason Schamber, Jacqueline Keating, James Fall

Emperor goose (Anser canagicus) harvest in Alaska was legally re-authorized in 2017 after a 30-year closure, but the number of emperor available for a sustainable harvest remains limited. We assessed participation in the fall-winter emperor goose hunting permit, evaluated harvest assessment by comparing results from permit harvest reporting and surveys, and documented hunters’ perspectives about harvest management. Participants in this harvest include rural, urban, indigenous, non-indigenous, subsistence, and recreational sport hunters, though these categories may overlap. In 2017–2019, 904 permits were issued to residents of Alaska urban regions (49%), Kodiak Archipelago (26%), other Alaska rural regions (21%), and nonresidents of Alaska (4%). In total, 422 emperor geese were reported via the permit, and urban hunters accounted for 55% of this total. Harvest surveys in rural Alaska indicated higher fall-winter harvest than the numbers provided by the permit reports. We mailed a survey to all hunters who obtained a permit in 2017 and 2018 and received 397 completed surveys (response rate=61%). Most nonresidents and Alaska urban residents (94%) identified sport hunting as their primary motivation for obtaining a permit. More than half of rural respondents (61%) also identified sport hunting as their primary motivation. Thirty-five percent of respondents motivated by sport hunting mentioned a taxidermy mount as a reason for obtaining a permit. Fifty-three percent of respondents motivated by subsistence or traditional hunting listed food as their main reason. Actions to finetune harvest management should include approaches to increase participation by rural hunters in the fall-winter emperor goose permit, additional surveys to complement harvest assessments, and adjustments to the boundaries of hunt areas so they are more meaningful for hunters

Survey of Arkansas Wildlife Rehabilitators: Perspectives, Motivators, and Opportunities for Collaboration
Jennifer Ballard, Kimberly Sparks

Wildlife rehabilitators represent a highly engaged and passionate constituent group for state conservation agencies. Rehabilitators have a high-level of direct contact with wildlife and members of the public, with frequent opportunities to both gather data and distribution information. State agencies can benefit from collaborative relationships with the wildlife rehabilitators in their jurisdictions, and a better understanding the motivations and perspectives of these constituents can foster such relationships. In 2019-2020, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) staff distributed a voluntary survey to all state-permitted wildlife rehabilitators to gather information regarding their level of training, financial investment, and motivations for conducting wildlife rehabilitation as well as their perception of the agency. The response rate was 53% (42 of 79). Participating rehabilitators reported a range of experience from <1 to 20+ years, with a mode of 1-5 years; approximately half of respondents indicated that they have formal training in wildlife rehabilitation or a related field. Respondents estimated that their cost for conducting wildlife rehabilitation ranged from 0 to 5000+ USD annually. Most respondents agreed with provided statements suggesting that wildlife rehabilitation could benefit wildlife populations, endangered species conservation, wildlife and/or disease surveillance; the majority also agreed that rehabilitation was a good opportunity for educating themselves and others about wildlife. When asked about their primary motivation for conducting wildlife rehabilitation, the most common response was that rehabilitation was a “moral obligation.” Most respondents indicated that the relationship between Arkansas’s rehabilitation community and the AGFC is good. Rehabilitators indicated that the services they most desired from the AGFC include email updates about current issues and research related to wildlife rehabilitation, financial assistance, and local training opportunities. Having a better understanding of the interests and motivations of Arkansas’s wildlife rehabilitators will help the AGFC to better communicate and build stronger collaborations with this constituent group.

Talkin’ Turkey: Hunter Satisfaction on Public Lands in South Carolina
Laurel Downs, Shari Rodriguez

Effective wildlife management relies on sound biophysical and social science; research in the human dimensions of wildlife (HDW) necessitates the latter. We conducted a HDW study in collaboration with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to better understand turkey hunters who use public lands (i.e., Wildlife Management Areas [WMAs]) in South Carolina under two different hunt regimes: public lottery hunts and 6-day open-access hunts. Specifically, our objectives were to 1) determine hunter satisfaction with the 2019 season, 2) identify turkey hunting experiences important to satisfaction, dissatisfaction, and success, 3) explore the dimensions of satisfaction, 4) determine hunter typology according to satisfaction orientation, and 5) identify any significant differences between the two hunt regimes of focus. Our study population contained the total population of successful lottery hunt applicants of 2018 and 2019 as well as all hunters who signed in to hunt Webb WMA in 2019. We conducted the study with a self-administered questionnaire via a mail survey using a modified Dillman method between August 2019 and January 2020. On average, respondents had a higher than neutral degree of satisfaction with the 2019 season. The most important aspect of turkey hunting to respondents’ general satisfaction was “experiencing the challenge of the hunt” followed closely by “enjoying nature/the outdoors,” while “Poor ethics/bad behavior” of other hunters generated the most dissatisfaction. The most important aspect of success was “hearing turkeys.” A factor analysis revealed three satisfaction dimensions (Nature Experience, Harvest, and Social Experience). Using a cluster analysis, respondents were segmented according to their satisfaction orientation into four hunter typologies: Harvesters (23%), Non-harvesters (24%), Social Harvesters (22%), and Nature Harvesters (31%). Differences were found between Lottery and Webb respondents on over 30 variables, several of which suggest open-access hunters have better experiences on public lands.

Complex Human-Deer Interactions in Indiana Require Innovative Approaches to Deer Management
Taylor Stinchcomb, Zhao Ma, Carly Sponarski

In the U.S., the management of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) has typically focused on improving hunting opportunities and mitigating human-deer conflicts. Yet as values for wildlife diversify across human communities, human-deer interactions are becoming increasingly complex within a single state and even a single individual. Until 2019, neither wildlife managers nor researchers in Indiana had assessed public perceptions of deer beyond hunting and farming stakeholders. Our previous qualitative study demonstrated that regardless of stakeholder identity, Indiana citizens hold complex deer-related values, attitudes, and beliefs driven by dynamics of mixed emotions and power imbalances. Drawing from these findings, we developed a statewide survey to examine this complexity at a larger and more refined scale. The survey aimed to quantify (i) Indiana residents’ deer-related values, attitudes, behaviors, and management preferences; (ii) the relationship among values, emotions, and management preferences; and (iii) the influence of trust and power on residents’ engagement in deer management. In June 2021, we randomly surveyed 6,000 residential addresses stratified by land cover type to ensure our sample represented diverse contexts of interaction with deer. We also purposely subsampled 1,500 addresses surrounding ecological sampling sites to obtain responses that can be compared directly to deer population densities and habitat conditions. All surveys were administered by mail with an online option enclosed. Preliminary results suggest that Indiana exhibits wide variation in deer-related perceptions and interactions, but these correlate with resident livelihoods, underlying values and beliefs, and the social-environmental contexts of encountering deer. Moving closer to the public trust ideal impels managers to consider local peoples’ experiences, values, emotions, and power dynamics. Moreover, since residents do not fall into distinct stakeholder categories, we will use a conflict-to-coexistence lens to integrate social and ecological data and better inform deer management across Indiana.

What Do We Know About Private Forest Owners?
Ava Smith, Chadwick Rittenhouse

Forests cover more than a third of the total area in the United States, with private ownerships owning a majority of these forested lands. Due to the sheer number in size and area, private forest owners play an influential role in future forest cover, health, and connectivity on the landscape. As expected trends of urbanization, forest fragmentation, and changing landowner demographics continue, there is a need to recognize what is currently known about private forest owners, so natural resource agencies and conservation organizations can better engage, serve, and connect with these stakeholders now and into the future. To assess the current understanding of private forest owner attitudes, beliefs, and values, as well as their motivations and behaviors towards management planning for their land’s future, we developed a systematic map concentrated on research conducted within the Northeast. Through a compilation of database searches that covered social science literature between 1990-2020, and multiple rounds of exclusion criteria, we selected a total of 81 papers for inclusion. The subsequent content analysis and qualitative coding process revealed spatial patterns, topical trends, and knowledge gaps within private forest owner research. Implications of this work will be discussed as it relates to future planning and policy efforts within the region.

Contributed Oral
Location: Virtual Date: November 3, 2021 Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm