Public perceptions and attitudes toward urban wildlife encounters – A decade of change

Europe is currently undergoing dynamic land use changes causing the expansion of urban habitat, which is driving wildlife species to colonise conurbations, resulting in an increased likelihood of human-wildlife conflict (HWC). Understanding people's attitudes toward wildlife is essential to manage these conflicts. This study assessed people's attitudes toward urban wildlife, the types of conflicts that existed, preferences for managing conflict situations, and determined any changes in perceptions of urban wildlife over a decade. A questionnaire survey of residents of Krakow, the second-largest city in Poland, was conducted in 2010 (n = 721) and repeated in 2020 (n =887). We found that encounters with certain urban wildlife such as wild boars, red squirrels, roe deer, brown hares, and red foxes had increased significantly in 2020 compared to 2010. Respondents reported that wild boar and beavers did not show fear when encountering humans. Stone martens were considered the most nuisance wildlife species in 2010, while in 2020 wild boar were the most conflictual wildlife species. There were additional reports of conflicts with roe deer and red foxes. The most frequent HWC responses were personal anxiety, intrusion into property and destruction of crops, which increased significantly over the decade, independent of respondents' gender. Respondents preferred nonlethal methods to mitigate conflicts. The study provides valuable information and knowledge on changes in people's attitudes toward urban wildlife that can help with wildlife management in urban areas. Incorporating perception and attitude data fromthe public, along with a multi-stakeholder approach that includes wildlife professionals, in the planning and design of future urban environments is critical to minimise HWC.
Publication history: Accepted - 26 April 2022; Published online - 4 May 2022.
Human-wildlife conflicts, Nuisance wildlife, Poland, Questionnaire survey, Stone marten, Wild boar
Basak, S.M., Hossain, Md.S., O’Mahony, D.T., Okarma, H., Widera, E. and Wierzbowska, I.A. (2022) ‘Public perceptions and attitudes toward urban wildlife encounters – A decade of change’, Science of The Total Environment. Elsevier BV. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.155603.