Dealing with wild animals is a complex socio-economic task. Wildlife management therefore comprises two areas:
- Conservation of the species
- Reduction of conflicts.
If species protection is successful, the number of individuals increases. This in turn can lead to frequent encounters with people. An increasing population also increases the risk of human-animal encounters.
One factor is particularly important in wildlife management: Trust in authorities, offices and ministries (Jochum 2013, Zajac 2012).
Reducing Conflicts With Large Predators
Conflict reduction measures are divided into four areas (in Johansson 2015):
Two measures are considered to have a high impact on the acceptance of large predators: education on the lifestyle and behaviour of wolves, bears and lynx and reduced risk assessment, e.g. through rules of conduct or prevention. Particular emphasis should be placed on the ecological benefits and benefits of wildlife for rural development (Bruskotter and Wilson 2013, Slagle et al. 2013). Verbal information has a better effect than information from the media. According to theories of conviction, the people who convey information should be credible, authentic and convincing.
Experience also plays an important role in tolerance towards wild animals. Excursions to wildlife habitats have a positive influence on acceptance. Unfortunately, however, encounters with wild animals are difficult to implement. Here, reports from other countries can help to better assess the risks posed by wildlife.
The involvement of the population and interest groups increases confidence in the authorities. This is known as community-based conservation. If the region benefits from wildlife, e.g. through subsidies, tourism, reputation etc., this should be communicated. For many countries, the presence of bears and wolves is a source of national pride, a cultural tradition and an indicator of well-preserved ecosystems (Wilson 2016).
SUBSIDIES / COMPENSATION
Compensation payments following attacks on livestock are very expensive and are regarded as short-term and regionally limited measures. However, they are particularly important in acute cases and promote acceptance. The prevention of damage by subsidising fences or sheepdogs, for example, is more effective. These measures make a significant contribution to reducing the damage and thus increase tolerance.
If the focus in management is on compensation payments, herd protection is less urgent for animal owners and encroachments do not decrease. However, it is important that prevention becomes the social norm in order to defuse conflicts. Interpersonal communication among rural inhabitants then supports the efforts of state institutions and educational campaigns (Sakuri 2013).
One direct measure for reducing conflicts is to regulate the population of predators. The killing of animals with behavioural problems can promote public acceptance. Communication and expertise play an important role here, so that the behaviour of individual conspicuous animals is not attributed to the entire species. An exact definition of "conspicuous behaviour" is important to ensure all interest groups have an understanding. Animal protectionists could otherwise see the measure as unjustified and wildlife opponents feel confirmed in their fears. It is important to emphasise that these are individual animals.
In general, however, regulation by hunting has hardly any influence on the damage caused (in Bautista 2017). There is no conclusive evidence that the regulation of predator populations through hunting reduces harm to livestock. Conversely, an increase in the population does not always lead to a reduction in livestock (Treves, Kapp & MacFarland 2010, Wielgus and Peebles 2014). As these are migratory species, herd protection is essential. Nevertheless, it is often intuitively assumed that, for example, hunting predators increases tolerance among people with negative attitudes. However, studies have shown that the introduction of predator kill rates does not necessarily increase human tolerance to the species hunted (Treves, Naughton-Treves and Shelley 2013). Be that as it may, from the point of view of those affected, "excessive protection" could increase intolerance and thus increase illegal killing (Bruskotter and Fulton, in press).
Other direct management measures include distraction feeding and aversion, i.e. reestablishing distance to humans. The situation is similar with the resettlement of predators. The desire to resettle a species shows a "not in my backyard" mentality among the population (Quinn 2009). However, relocations are very expensive and do not necessarily reduce harm. Younger animals can take over the freed territory and are usually more problematic than older animals (Quinn 2009).
In the management of large predators, short and long-term initiatives should be combined to increase tolerance (Bhatacharjee and Parthasarathy 2014).