To manage emerging human-wildlife conflicts, wildlife managers will require more information regarding trends in wildlife damage and public perceptions of control measures. In 2017, we administered an online survey to Georgia Agriculture and Natural Resource County Cooperative Extension Agents (ANR Agents) to assess the types of inquiries or complaints about nuisance wildlife they had received during the previous year. We asked questions about the common species creating problems, the nature of the damage reported, and perceptions of client preferences regarding different types of nuisance wildlife control. We compared the results of our 2017 survey to a similar survey conducted in Georgia in 2002 to determine how human-wildlife conflict issues may have changed over time and how ANR Agents could serve as information sources regarding these changing trends. In 2017, ANR Agents received more inquiries about deer (Odocoileus virginianus) than any other species. Other species frequently identified included armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus), wild pigs (Sus scrofa), moles (Scalopus spp.), squirrels (Sciurus spp.), and voles (Microtus spp.). Complaints about voles had increased since the previous survey (P = 0.019), as well as complaints about unknown sources of damage (P = 0.041) and requests for more general information on wildlife damage (P = 0.041). Fewer complaints about bats (Order: Chiroptera) (P = 0.0007), woodpeckers (Family: Picidae) (P = 0.021), squirrels (P = 0.047), and moles (P = 0.026) were reported during this survey than were reported in the 2002 survey. More ANR Agents in Georgia received complaints about wild pigs (P = 0.00004). Most complaints about nuisance wildlife referred to damage to yards/landscapes, followed by gardens, and then row crops. Complaints about damage to row crops had increased since the 2002 survey, (P = 0.046) while complaints about damage to houses/barns had decreased (P = 0.01). Lastly, ANR Agents believed their clients were not opposed to lethal control of nuisance wildlife. We believe these findings highlight the many benefits of targeting ANR Agents as key informants and recommend that other managers implement similar techniques to acquire information on nuisance wildlife trends within their own states.
Hohbein, Rhianna R. and Mengak, Michael T.
"Cooperative Extension Agents as Key Informants in Assessing Wildlife Damage Trends in Georgia,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 12
, Article 10.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol12/iss2/10