To bait or not to bait: a discrete choice experiment on public preferences for native wildlife and conservation management in Western Australia.
Foxes and feral cats are invasive predators threating biodiversity in many places around the world. Managing these predators to protect threatened species should involve careful consideration of biological, geographic, economic, and social aspects to ensure informed and effective decision-making. This study investigates people's preferences for the ways in which foxes and feral cats are managed at a conservation site in Western Australia using a discrete choice experiment. We further aim to quantify the non-market values of two native threatened species protected by management; Numbats and Woylies. The attributes evaluated in the survey included: increased populations of Numbats and Woylies, cost of management, and a range of invasive feral predator management strategies (1080 baiting, fencing, trapping, and community engagement). Results show that respondents prefer a combination of management strategies over the strategy of 1080 baiting that is currently being implemented, particularly combinations that include trapping and community engagement. There is also strong public support for increased Numbat and Woylie populations. Willingness to pay was, on average, $21.76 for 100 Numbats and $7.95 for 1000 Woylies. Including images of the threatened species in the choice sets does not influence willingness-to-pay estimates. We further discuss how familiarity with the species influences value. Our results feed into the conservation decision making process about feral species management in the region.