Human Dimensions III

Contributed Oral Presentations

SESSION NUMBER: 88

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

 

Investigating Congruence between Landowner Beliefs and Model Results About White-Tailed Deer Resource Selection to Support Hunting for Landowner and Community Objectives
Paige F B Ferguson; William D. Gulsby; Colton D. Blankenship; Hudson Tate; Neil A. Gilbert
We investigated characteristics associated with the occupancy of sex-age classes of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the Black Belt region of Alabama. This is important because this region has a reputation for being outstanding for deer hunting, deer hunting contributes to the local economy, and the Black Belt has a high poverty rate: 28.7% in 2018, well above state (16.9%) and national (12.3%) averages. It is important to evaluate consistency or mismatch between landowners’ perceptions and empirical results about deer resource use because >95% of the land area in Alabama is privately owned, so landowners can have substantial effects on deer populations. We interviewed landowners about their perceptions and used (1) land-use/land-cover maps, (2) on-site vegetation surveys, and (3) landowners’ descriptions of their management as covariates in occupancy models for (1) female, (2) yearling male, or (3) adult (> 2 years) male deer. Characteristics mentioned by landowners and supported by models included presence of active or fallow agricultural land, open vegetation structure, and native vegetation. In contrast to model results, landowners did not mention that different deer sex-age classes use different resources, nor that percent developed area could be negatively associated with deer occupancy. Some landowners suggested that forest cover, diverse vegetation types, or grass could be associated with deer occupancy, but those features were not important in our models. Higher adult male occupancy probabilities, which we expect to be associated with increased hunting success, were associated with the presence of agriculture and open land. Higher recruitment, which we expect to be associated with higher yearling male occupancy probabilities, and hunting success appeared to be associated with high native forb cover in prairies. These results indicate landowners’ perceptions that are consistent with or that could be better supported by empirical studies to improve management of land and deer.
Rethinking R3: Broadening Support for Wildlife Recreation with a Focus on College Students
Richard J. von Furstenberg; Lincoln R. Larson; Victoria Vayer; KangJae J. Lee; Nils Peterson
As the number of hunters and anglers dwindles, “R3” initiatives to recruit and retain new outdoor recreationists have been embraced by wildlife agencies and conservation organizations around the country. R3 efforts focused on “non-traditional” pathways into wildlife recreation have attracted substantial attention, often targeting groups such as women, racial/ethnic minorities, and locavores (individuals committed to the local food movement). However, despite rapidly growing interest and resource allocation, the ultimate return on R3 investment – particularly among these populations – remains uncertain.
Our research highlights a promising approach to R3 that could help strengthen connections with millions of potential “non-traditional” recreationists. At colleges and universities across the country, diverse millennials are eager to learn new things and explore new activities. Their developmental proclivities, coupled with the vibrant social context of college campuses, create a situation where R3 initiatives can thrive. Our team spent two years studying college students in 22 states across the U.S., focusing on their participation in, beliefs about, and support for wildlife recreation. Through over 15,000 surveys, we found that, regardless of academic major, urban/rural upbringing, or a variety of other demographic characteristics, many college students are interested in hunting (19% will engage in future hunting, another 27% might try it) and fishing (34% will engage in future fishing, 40% might try it). Students’ motivations for engaging in these activities tend to focus on acquisition of local food and wildlife population management. Even more students might be eager to pursue other forms of outdoor recreation; for example, 68% currently hike, 51% camp, 35% engage in adventure recreation, and 33% watch wildlife. Our work is uncovering ways that wildlife agencies and conservation organizations can connect with college students, helping to advance R3 and foster outdoor enthusiasts who may experience and support wildlife recreation for the rest of their lives.
Accounts of Indigenious Communities on Illegal Wildlife Hunting from Parts of Central India
Shreya Sethi
Wildlife hunting is an anthropogenic threat to the extinction of fauna globally, with a cascading detrimental effect on the ecosystems. India imposed a blanket ban on hunting of all indigenous species in 1991 (Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 amended). Even today, wildlife hunting continues in a clandestine nature in the country. This study aims to identify reasons behind the prevalence of hunting based on the perspective of local communities and hunters. Four Tiger Reserves that include: 1) Pench Tiger Reserve and 2) Nawegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra, 3) Pench Tiger Reserve and 4) Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh of Central India are the chosen field sites to conduct the study. The study follows mixed methodology research with an exploratory design comprising of primary surveys with a semi-structured questionnaire administered in local languages (Hindi and Marathi) between January 2018 and September 2019. The sample size is drawn using purposive and snowball sampling techniques. A village is a unit of study as in most cases wildlife hunting is a community activity and often the hunt is shared between people of the community. Eighty-one villages are surveyed which were identified based on prior crime-related information shared by the Forest Departments. The findings help in categorizing hunting into three types based on the drivers: 1) subsistence hunting/ bushmeat hunting for food and medicinal uses 2) retaliatory hunting as a mitigation measure for human-wildlife conflict and 3) opportunistic hunting or occasional hunting during the collection of firewood and non-timber forest produce. Of these, there is unanimous agreement about prevalence and rise of retaliatory hunting, driven by meagre or no compensations especially in case of crop damage while hunting of lesser-known species and birds is common for medicinal value. The findings of this study could help in implementing more inclusive conservation policies in India.
Diverse Pathways to the Outdoors: Exploring the Conservation Orientations and Hunting Motivations and Constraints of Female College Students
Kiley Davan; Neelam Poudyal; Lincoln Larson
Hunting participation declines are concerning because of the loss of tradition and revenue generated from hunting for conservation. Despite increases in female participation, women only account for 10% of the hunting population. Increasing participation among women could negate current trends. This would require understanding women’s motivations and constraints to participate, which we believe is lacking in recreation literature. To fill this gap, this study analyzed responses from an online survey of students at the University of Tennessee to understand students’ attitudes, motivations, and constraints toward hunting. Of 1,289 surveys completed (response rate 26%), 538 (56%) were females. Most (67%) female respondents had never hunted, and few had hunted (17%) or accompanied someone hunting but not personally hunted (16%). Of those who had previously participated, 62% indicated their participation has decreased since starting college. Regarding future intentions, 70% indicated they would not hunt, 20% indicated they would hunt, and 10% were unsure. Regarding hunting in general, half (50%) approved and a quarter (25%) disapproved. Hunting to control wildlife populations damaging ecosystems had the most approval (65%) while hunting for a trophy received the most disapproval (72%). The biggest barriers to respondents include they would rather do other activities (85%), have moral/ethical objections to hunting (73%), are reluctant to personally kill an animal (62%), and lack the knowledge/skill required for hunting (52%). When asked if they were interested in learning more about hunting, 24% indicated some level of interest. These results show, while many female students approve of hunting, their interest in learning more about hunting and intention to participate remains low. This presentation will present comparisons between different demographics groups (e.g. ethnicity, rural-urban, college major). These findings shed light on women’s’ motivations, constraints, and opportunities related to hunting and could be useful to agencies in outreach and recruitment of new hunters.
Partnership in Transition: Recruitment of New Hunters in Sweden
Katarina Hansson-Forman; Camilla Sandström; Göran Ericsson
Hunting, an activity conceptualized as part of a wildlife management partnership between the state, landowners and hunting communities, is increasingly being challenged by societal change. A declining hunting base has ecological, economic and socio-cultural consequences, and the issue of hunter recruitment and retention deserves more scholarly and political attention. In Sweden, interest in taking a hunting proficiency test is high even though the number of hunters has declined during the last few decades (although with a slow recovery in the last 12 months), indicating an untapped source of potential new hunters. Based on a questionnaire and interviews with potential new hunters, we use Sweden as a case study to explore what factors affect and motivate new hunters’ participation in hunting. The analysis identifies structural, institutional and individual factors that influence hunting participation. Based on these factors, we offer some suggestions to help curb the negative trend of declining hunter numbers.
Market and Nonmarket Valuation of North Carolina’s Public Hunting Lands
William R. Casola; M. Nils Peterson; Erin O. Sills; Krishna Pacifici; Christopher E. Moorman; Jessie Birckhead; Brian McRae
Protected public land provides both a primary means of wildlife conservation and an important recreation resource for the general public. The economic impact of recreation associated with protected public lands is important to local economies and is expected to increase as nature-based recreation grows in the US. Understanding both the market and non-market value of protected public lands is critical for decision makers who must balance tradeoffs between conservation and development. North Carolina has an expansive system of public lands dedicated to hunting, fishing and wildlife management, hereafter referred to as game lands. Accurate assessment of the economic value of game lands requires the innovative use of multiple methods. We used both market and nonmarket valuation methods to estimate the preservation value of game lands and the economic contribution from game land associated recreation. We estimated willingness-to-pay among consumptive users (hunters & fishers), as well as a host of non-consumptive users (hikers, birders, kayakers, etc.). We used the Impact Analysis for Planning (IMPLAN) system to estimate the direct, indirect and induced economic contributions associated with game land related recreation. Data were obtained via in-person intercept surveys at nine game lands across NC, varying in size, location, and proximity to urban centers. Usage rates, trip expenditures, and in turn, economic contribution varied between user groups. On average, non-consumptive users spent more per trip than consumptive users but trip expenditures varied greatly based on the reported primary activity of non-consumptive users. The empirical results show that NC game lands possess considerable use and preservation values, far higher than access fees and maintenance costs. These results are valuable in facilitating negotiations between stakeholders impacted by future expansion or establishment of protected public lands, including those dedicated to hunting.
Increasing Diversity to Save Biodiversity: Motivations and Challenges of Women in the Male-Dominated Indonesian Conservation Field
Erin E. Poor; Jen Shaffer; Rafselia Novalina; Muhammad Ali Imron; Jennifer M. Mullinax
While Indonesia remains one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, it now has the world’s highest deforestation rate. The conservation field in Indonesia is dominated by men, especially in on-the-ground field work, a pattern likely linked to societal beliefs about gender roles. A more diverse group of scientists can offer unique perspectives to some of our greatest ecological challenges. Unfortunately, there is a lack of information regarding women working in Indonesian conservation. The goal of our research was to identify common experiences, influences, or opportunities for women working in conservation in Indonesia. We conducted semi-structured surveys of two cohorts of women conservation scientists (early and established career) in conjunction with a conservation skills workshop in September 2019. Workshop goals included increasing skills and building networks among women. Of the 11 early career participants, the 9 who completed surveys cited perceptions about gender as one of their main challenges, and a love of nature as their main motivating factor. The three established career women all mentioned the aid of a mentor throughout their careers. All participants perceived benefits from the workshop, either from learning new technical skills or growing their career networks. Based on our results, we encourage the use of small workshops to build mentorship and strong networking opportunities for women early career scientists in a welcoming all-female setting. This work was in preparation for a larger training effort in 2021 and a nation-wide survey for men and women working in conservation in Indonesia. Ultimately, increasing diversity in the conservation field globally is a long-term process, but without increasing diversity, we stand to lose out on half of the potential workforce and unique ideas that could help solve some of the world’s most daunting ecological problems.
Moving from Decision to Action in Conservation Science
Alexander Wright
Biodiversity loss is a major threat to the integrity of ecosystems and is projected to worsen, yet the path to successful conservation remains elusive. Decision support frameworks (DSFs) are increasingly applied by resource managers to deal with the complexity, uncertainty, and differing socio-ecological objectives inherent to conservation problems. Most published conservation research that uses DSFs focuses on analytical stages (e.g., identifying an optimal decision), making it difficult to assess the extent that DSFs improve biological outcomes. Here, we explore how DSFs are used to promote successful conservation projects. We develop a framework for evaluating conservation initiatives using decision science that emphasizes setting attainable goals, building momentum, and obtaining partner buy-in. We apply this framework to a systematic review of amphibian conservation decision support projects, including a follow-up questionnaire of the pertinent conservation practitioners, stakeholders, and scientists. Based on our systematic review, we identify multiple barriers to conservation success (e.g., dynamic and hierarchical leadership, scale complexity, insufficient resource availability) that can inhibit the progression from decision identification to action implementation (i.e., decision-implementation gap), and to successful biological outcomes. We provide actionable recommendations and avenues for future research to facilitate the transition from decision to action and the realization of conservation successes.
Harbor Seals in Virginia – a Three-Fold Approach to Monitoring an Expanding Population
Deanna Rees; Danielle Jones; Jacqueline Bort Thornton
There has been some question in recent years about the southern extent of the Western North Atlantic harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) stock. Until 2018, NOAA Stock Assessment Reports indicated that the southern extent this stock’s range was New Jersey; with scattered sightings and strandings reported as far south as Florida. In 2014, based on an increase in anecdotal sightings, the U.S. Navy initiated a study to investigate seal presence in Virginia. Using haul-out surveys, photo identification, satellite tagging, and trail cameras; we have documented seasonal presence and an abundance estimate of harbor seals in Virginia. To date, 133 surveys have been conducted. Harbor seals have been sighted consistently between November and April, with a max count for single day of 68 harbor seals. From photo identification, 112 harbor seals were uniquely identified, of which 72 were observed once and 40 were re-sighted both within a season and across multiple seasons. Abundance estimates calculated from the Lincoln-Peterson model for the 2015-2019 field seasons ranged from 88 (95% CI: 47.67-128.66) to 221 (95% CI: 83.61-357.40). In 2018, seven harbor seals were captured and instrumented with a combination of location-only SPOT tags and a depth-sensing SPLASH tag. Dive data recorded indicated a maximum dive depth of 118.00 m, and mean dive depth of 22.38 m (SD ±19.53). In April 2018, 6 of 7 tagged seals moved north from Virginia to known haul-out sites in New England, and 4 tagged seals traveled as far north as Maine before tags were shed during the annual molt. Trail camera data results indicate seals are hauled out up to 38% of daylight hours. This data has contributed to an increased understanding of the habitat use and haul-out patterns of seals near important U.S. Navy installations, training and testing areas, and vessel transit routes in Virginia.

 

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