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Beliefs and Attitudes of Residents in Queensland, Australia, about Managing Dog and Cat Impacts on Native Wildlife

1
School of Social Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, QLD 4556, Australia
2
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Wacol, QLD 4073, Australia
3
Jemora Pty Ltd., PO Box 2277, Geelong, VIC 3220, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1637; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091637
Received: 3 August 2020 / Revised: 11 August 2020 / Accepted: 8 September 2020 / Published: 11 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Animal System and Management)
The acceptability of methods for managing cats’ and dogs’ undesired encounters with wildlife remains a contested issue. Despite a wealth of research on the effectiveness of management strategies, successful implementation is reliant on public perceptions and attitudes towards the different strategies. This paper reports on the results of a survey which sought to understand the attitudes of a self-selected group of residents in Queensland, Australia, towards various management actions for controlling dog and cat populations and behaviour (hereafter managing dogs and cats). Our respondents collectively grouped strategies into those that directly cause wild (i.e., feral) dog and cat deaths and those that allow wild dogs and cats to live a ‘natural’ life, with the acceptability of the first group of strategies varying by gender and age. These important variations in beliefs and attitudes require careful management within each community for the success of any program to control wild dogs or cats.
Many humans have created close relationships with wildlife and companion species. Notwithstanding that companion species were at some point themselves wild, some wild (i.e., feral) and domesticated (owned) dogs and cats now have significant impacts on wildlife. Many strategies exist to control the impact of dogs and cats on wildlife, but the successful implementation of management initiatives is tied to public opinions and the degree of acceptability of these measures. This paper reports the findings of a survey assessing the beliefs of residents in Queensland, Australia, about dog and cat impacts on wildlife, and their attitudes towards various strategies and options for controlling wild (i.e., feral) and domesticated (owned) dogs and cats. The responses of 590 participants were analysed. Our respondents collectively grouped strategies into those that directly cause wild dog and cat deaths and those that allow wild dogs and cats to live a ‘natural’ life, which is a variation on past research where respondents grouped strategies into lethal and non-lethal methods. Community acceptability of strategies that directly cause wild dog and cat deaths (each assessed using five-category Likert scores) was lower amongst females and respondents aged 34 years or less. Gender expectations in most places and cultures still predominately suggest that women are more ‘caring’, supportive of animal welfare, and perhaps cognizant that wild dogs and cats are also sentient creatures and appreciate the problematic tension between controlling wild and companion species. Age-related differences may reflect the changing social values of communities at different points in time. There was high support for regulations that enforce responsible pet ownership but not for the importance of pet-free suburbs, which the majority of respondents considered unimportant. These important variations in beliefs and attitudes require careful management within each community for the success of any program to control wild dogs or cats. View Full-Text
Keywords: domestic dogs; domestic cats; wildlife; management; attitudes; gender; age; responsible pet ownership domestic dogs; domestic cats; wildlife; management; attitudes; gender; age; responsible pet ownership
MDPI and ACS Style

Carter, J.; Paterson, M.B.A.; Morton, J.M.; Gelves-Gomez, F. Beliefs and Attitudes of Residents in Queensland, Australia, about Managing Dog and Cat Impacts on Native Wildlife. Animals 2020, 10, 1637. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091637

AMA Style

Carter J, Paterson MBA, Morton JM, Gelves-Gomez F. Beliefs and Attitudes of Residents in Queensland, Australia, about Managing Dog and Cat Impacts on Native Wildlife. Animals. 2020; 10(9):1637. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091637

Chicago/Turabian Style

Carter, Jennifer, Mandy B.A. Paterson, John M. Morton, and Francisco Gelves-Gomez. 2020. "Beliefs and Attitudes of Residents in Queensland, Australia, about Managing Dog and Cat Impacts on Native Wildlife" Animals 10, no. 9: 1637. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091637

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