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The Relationship Between Human Emotions and Human-Coyote Coexistence

13:30, Monday 8 May 2023 EDT (30 minutes)

Human-wildlife conflict is recognized as one of the most critical conservation issues faced globally [1]. As humans alter land to meet livelihood needs, food and habitat sources for many species are reduced, increasing human-wildlife interactions and human-wildlife conflict [1, 2, 3, 4]. However, researchers and decision-makers have historically viewed humans and wildlife as separate categories [1, 4]. An inadequate understanding of social-ecological interactions has led to an absence of effective human-wildlife conflict solutions [1, 2, 5], this is evident when we consider human-coyote relationships.

Coyotes are legally labelled as a nuisance species that threaten humans, livestock, and pets [6, 7]. Consequently, there are nominal restrictions on how many coyotes are killed, in what circumstances, and which methods are used [6]. Frequently, mitigative strategies focus on eliminating coyotes rather than addressing the origin of the problem, such as changes in land use fragmenting habitat connectivity and people directly/indirectly feeding coyotes [2]. Without addressing the root of the problem, the conflict is likely to repeat with another coyote or animal taking the initial coyote's place [1, 2]. Furthermore, eradicating coyotes can result in consequences more damaging than the initial conflict itself, such as disrupting the predator-prey balance and reducing biodiversity [2, 4]. Despite the knowledge that killing coyotes in large numbers increases human-coyote conflict [1, 2] and decreases ecosystem health [2, 4, 5], approximately half a million coyotes are killed every year in North America [8]. Thus, there is a need to better understand human-coyote relationships to implement mitigative strategies that minimize conflict without compromising ecosystem health. Specifically, there is a need to understand humans' emotions towards coyotes to achieve human-coyote coexistence. Emotions influence essentially all aspects of cognition, including people’s perceptions and behaviours towards wildlife [9, 10]. Understanding humans’ emotions towards coyotes can help identify knowledge gaps and predict reactions and abidance to management policies [10, 11].

In the 20-minute presentation, I will discuss my graduate thesis research on the relationship between human emotions and human-coyote coexistence. First, I will provide a brief background on the growing need for human-coyote conflict mitigation strategies and the value of considering emotions in this process. I will then address my three research questions: (1) What are people’s emotions toward coyotes? (2) What influences emotions to change or remain consistent? (3) How do emotions influence an individual’s willingness to adopt lethal or nonlethal mitigative methods used on coyotes? Subsequently, I will introduce my research methods, discussing the 48 interviews collected from residents of the Foothills Parklands Natural Region of Alberta, Canada as part of the Foothills Coyote Initiative [12]. The interviews include open and closed questions about residents’ perceptions, experiences, and emotions regarding coyotes. Preliminary findings include a discussion on how various contexts result in different emotions towards coyotes and the acceptability of killing coyotes through culls, contests, poisons, and shooting. I will conclude

the presentation with a summary highlighting the value of considering emotions in human- wildlife conflict mitigation and recommendations for future research.


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Jacobs, M. H., Vaske, J. J., Dubois, S., & Fehres, P. (2014). More than fear: role of emotions in acceptability of lethal control of wolves. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 60(4), 589-598.

Frank, B., Glikman, J. A., Sutherland, M., & Bath, A. J. (2016). Predictors of extreme negative feelings toward coyote in Newfoundland. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 21(4), 297-310.

Foothills Coyote initiative - (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2021, from

University of Calgary
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