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Subsidized Fencing of Livestock as a Means of Increasing Tolerance for Wolves

Jens Karlsson, Department of Ecology. Grimsö Wildlife Research Station. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
Magnus Sjöström, Department of Economics, Umeå University.

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Abstract

Studies of how proactive measures to reduce livestock depredation by carnivores affect human tolerance toward carnivores are extremely rare. Nevertheless, substantial amounts of money are spent each year on proactive measures to facilitate large carnivore conservation. The objective of this study was to assess how subsidies for proactive measures to reduce sheep losses to wolves are associated with public attitudes toward wolves. The respondents were 445 people living inside wolf territories in Sweden. Our data set is unique because we combine wolf territory level information regarding proactive subsidies and wolf attacks on dogs and sheep with geographical information of the respondents. Consequently, the respondents can be assigned to a specific wolf territory. The number of wolf attacks on sheep and dogs in the respective territories as well as the number of years that the wolf territory had existed did not affect human attitudes toward wolves. Subsidies for proactive measures to reduce wolf predation on sheep significantly increased positive attitudes toward wolf presence on the local scale. The magnitude of the effect of subsidies for proactive measures was comparable to the effect of other variables well known to affect human attitudes toward wolves such as age or education. Our data show that subsidies not only made the already positive more positive, but also made people with negative attitudes to wolf presence locally, less negative. Our conclusion is, therefore, that subsidies for proactive measures are an effective tool when working with “the human dimension” of conservation biology.

Key words

attitudes; depredation; electric fencing; human dimension; proactive measures; wolves
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087