Human dimensions of predator management for threatened Western Snowy Plovers
56 – 64
1 April 21
Department of Wildlife, Humboldt State University, 1 Harpst St., Arcata, CA 95521, USA
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Conservation of a threatened species often begins with understanding the limiting factors for a population’s viability and developing conservation strategies to alleviate these threats. Many threatened and endangered shorebird species worldwide face negative impacts from predation due to their small population sizes; however, predator management strategies can be controversial and opposed by the public. Threatened Western Snowy Plover Charadrius nivosus nivosus populations in Humboldt County in northwestern California, USA are negatively impacted by predation by Common Ravens Corvus corax and Striped Skunks Mephitis mephitis, but there has been opposition by the public to conservation strategies proposed by wildlife agencies. I conducted a public survey to investigate attitudes towards predator management for the Western Snowy Plover and to gain a better understanding of what factors affect a person’s acceptance of nonlethal and lethal management strategies. I found that wildlife value orientations, attitudes towards predators, and knowledge of Western Snowy Plovers affected the likelihood of accepting particular strategies. Mutualists were more likely to accept non-lethal strategies rather than both non-lethal and lethal strategies compared to traditionalists, and survey respondents that had less knowledge about Western Snowy Plovers were also less likely to accept both strategies. By conducting human dimension studies, conservation workers and wildlife agencies can better understand the public’s perspective and what they will support. For Western Snowy Plover conservation, this study suggests that by engaging the public and using education to increase their knowledge of the challenges that the species faces from predation, we may be able to increase the success of conservation strategies from both social and biological perspectives.