Human-Wildlife Conflict in Urban Environments

 Readings Make sure to read chapter seventeen in your text. A couple of other things to point out in your book: Consider the role that Cultural Carrying Capacity (or Social Carrying Capacity, as it’s also known) can play in driving human decisions about wildlife. It’s an interesting and useful concept, we think. Drake also refers to Wildlife Stakeholder Acceptance Capacity. We’d like to expand the idea of habitat modification that Drake goes into on page 397. We actually think that his examples of cultural modification are all examples of habitat modification. If someone stops feeding their pet outside, they are modifying the habitat by removing that potential food resource, for example. Splitting those into two concepts seems to dilute the importance of how habitat features – manmade or otherwise – can drive human-wildlife interactions. Again, habitat modification read this way does mean human behavior change, which is often challenging. But it’s often the best bet if you’re trying to come to a long-term solution. Going back to our above conversation, this is one of the reasons why the knowledge that the social sciences can bring us is so vital to conservation work! Finally, in his conclusion, Drake discusses the importance of understanding the difference between “real” and “perceived” conflict. We also think that this is an important distinction to make, at least in some ways. “Real” conflict might occur when a coyote preys on a pet cat who’s been left outdoors, for example, whereas “perceived” conflict might occur when someone happens to see a coyote in a local park and is unsettled by the experience. On the other hand, to the person who’s upset at seeing the coyote, it is “real” conflict, and telling them that it’s not would likely be counter-productive. Your second reading is “Rearticulating the myth of human-wildlife conflict.” We’ve been talking about rhetoric at various times throughout this semester, and this study looks at the term “human-wildlife conflict” and whether it’s an accurate and useful term or not. Your third reading is “Unwanted Animals” (diving back into the rhetoric world a bit). This article addresses wildlife damage control in urban areas with an eye on ethics and moral concerns. Finally, your fourth reading is “Animal welfare and ethical issues relevant to the humane control of vertebrate pests.” The authors go into an in-depth discussion of how vertebrates who are causing damage to humans should be handled, again from an ethical standpoint (although there are also practical aspects to much of what they say here). Note that this article is written about New Zealand specifically. Although there’s obviously a lot of overlap with the subject across different countries, do note that in New Zealand, pests are often defined as non-native and harmful to the native environment or human interests. In the US, “pests” are often native species (think of raccoons, squirrels, crows, beavers, coyotes, etc.). Questions (please keep the format as Q>A, not an essay) 1. Pests: Do you think terms like “pest” and “human-wildlife conflict” are problematic? Why or why not? If you think they are a problem, are there terms you’d recommend using instead? Why? 2. White-tailed Deer and Canada Geese: What are the pros and cons of the various management techniques used in urban areas for Canada geese and White-tailed deer? You might want to do some additional research on the methods that your text discusses. Are there specific methods that have been used where you live? What were the results?

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