Public acceptance of management methods under different human-wildlife conflict scenarios.
Wildlife management seeks to minimise public controversy for successful application of wildlife control methods. Human dimensions research in wildlife seeks a better understanding of public preferences for effective human-wildlife conflict resolution. In face to face interviews, 630 adults in Greece were asked to rate on a 5-point Likert-like scale their acceptance of 3 management methods, i.e., do nothing, non-lethal control, and lethal control, in the context of 5 human-wildlife conflict scenarios: (1) corvids damage crops; (2) starlings damage crops; (3) starlings foul urban structures; (4) coypus damage crops; and (5) coypus transfer disease. Univariate GLMs determined occupation, hunting membership and their interaction as the stronger predictors of public acceptance, generating 4 stakeholder groups: the general public, farmers, hunters, and farmers-hunters. Differences in acceptance and consensus among stakeholder groups were assessed using the Potential for Conflict Index2 (PCI2). All 4 stakeholder groups agreed that doing nothing was unacceptable and non-lethal control acceptable in all 5 scenarios, with generally high consensus within and between groups. The lethal control method was more controversial and became increasingly more acceptable as the severity of scenarios was increased and between non-native and native species. Lethal control was unacceptable for the general public in all scenarios. Farmers accepted lethal methods in the corvids and starlings scenarios, were neutral in the coypus damage crops scenario, whereas they accepted lethal control when coypus transfer disease. Hunters' opinion was neutral in the corvids, starlings and coypus damage crops and starlings foul urban structures scenarios, but they accepted lethal methods in the coypus transfer disease scenario. Farmers-hunters considered lethal control acceptable in all 5 scenarios. Implications from this study could be used for designing a socio-ecological approach which incorporates wildlife management with public interests. The studied species have a wide distribution, therefore present findings might also prove useful elsewhere.