Collective Factors Reinforce Individual Contributions to Human-Wildlife Coexistence

Holly K. Nesbitt, Alexander L. Metcalf, Alice A. Lubeck, Elizabeth Covelli Metcalf, Crystal Beckman, Ada P. Smith, Tina M. Cummins

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Conserving large carnivores while keeping people safe depends on finding means for peaceful coexistence. Although large carnivore populations are generally declining globally, some populations are increasing, causing greater overlap with humans and increasing potential for conflict. One method of reducing conflict with large carnivores is to secure attractants like garbage and livestock. This method is effective when implemented; however, implementation requires a change in human behavior. Human-wildlife interaction is a public good collective action problem where solutions require contributions from many and individual actions have effects on others. We used the collective interest model to investigate how individual and collective factors work in concert to influence landowner attractant securing behavior in Montana, USA, in black (Ursus americanus) and grizzly bear (U. arctos) range. We used data from a mail-back survey to develop logistic regression models testing the relative effects of collective and individual factors on landowners' attractant securing behaviors. The most important factor was whether individuals had spoken to a wildlife professional, a reflection of social coordination and pressure. Other collective factors (e.g., social norms [i.e., expectations and behaviors of peers] and the existence of discussion networks [i.e., how much social influence an individual has]) were equally important as individual factors (e.g., beliefs, age, gender) for influencing attractant securing behavior among Montana landowners. This research suggests pathways for wildlife managers and outreach coordinators to increase attractant securing behavior by emphasizing collective factors, such as social norms, rather than appealing exclusively to individual factors, such as risk perception of large carnivores. Furthermore, wildlife agencies would be justified in increasing their efforts to connect with landowners in person and to connect with members of the public who play an important role in discussion networks. This research demonstrates that, even on private lands, collective interests may be a missing and important piece of the puzzle for encouraging voluntary attractant securing behavior and improving wildlife-human coexistence.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1280-1295
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Wildlife Management
    Volume85
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Aug 2021

    Keywords

    • attractants
    • black bears
    • carnivores
    • collective action
    • grizzly bears
    • human-wildlife conflict
    • social norms

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