Wildlife agencies balance the effectiveness of management with public acceptability. Past research has demonstrated stakeholders’ normative beliefs regarding management are influenced by the severity of the human-wildlife interaction, and the harshness of human response. Such beliefs may be more complex when public and private interests intertwine. In Montana, concerns about Brucellosis spreading from wild elk to domestic livestock prompted agencies to consider new management actions on private lands. We investigated how normative beliefs within stakeholder groups related to reciprocity between landowners and the public, and elk population status, using a linear mixed-effects analysis of mail survey responses. Proposed actions were considerably more acceptable in scenarios where landowners reciprocated with public hunting access, and where elk populations were abundant. Acceptability of lethal actions varied substantially across scenarios, indicating a need for a nuanced understanding of how stakeholders perceive different wildlife control measures, especially in private land contexts.
- acceptability of lethal control
- disease management
- Private landowners