Addressing social attitudes toward lethal control of wildlife in national parks. uri icon

abstract

  • The extraordinary population growth of certain ungulate species is increasingly a concern in agroforestry areas because overabundance may negatively affect natural environments and human livelihoods. However, society may have negative perceptions of killing wildlife to reduce their numbers and mitigate damage. We used an online survey that included a choice experiment to determine Spanish citizens' (n = 190) preferences toward wildlife population control measures related to negative effects of ungulate overabundance (negative impacts on vegetation and other wildlife species and disease transmission to livestock) in 2 agroforestry national parks in Spain. We used latent-class and willingness-to-pay in space models to analyze survey results. Two percent of respondents thought a national park should have no human intervention even if lack of management may cause environmental degradation, whereas 95% of respondents favored efforts to reduce damage caused by overabundant ungulate species. We estimated human well-being losses of survey respondents when sustainable effects of deer overabundance on the environment became unsustainable effects and well-being gains when sustainable effects transitioned to no visible effects. We found that the type of wildlife-control program was a very relevant issue for the respondents; indirect control in which killing was avoided was the preferred action. Sixty-six percent of respondents agreed with the option of hunters paying for culling animals to reduce ungulate impacts rather than management cost coming out of taxes, whereas 19% of respondents were against this option and willing to pay for other solutions in national parks. Our results suggest that killing wildlife in national parks could be a socially acceptable tool to manage overabundance problems in certain contexts, but it could also generate social conflicts.

publication date

  • 2020
  • 2020