Public perceptions of coyotes in Vancouver Proulx, Renée
The coyote (Canis latrans) has benefitted from the urbanization of previously undeveloped areas and have successfully expanded their range across North America. As they are newcomers, it is interesting to track how the public interacts with and perceives the species. This study is modelled after a past thesis examining public opinion on the coyote in Vancouver and sought to provide updated findings for the use of wildlife management groups. The Stanley Park Ecological Society’s Co-Existing with Coyotes program is interested in updating the research to offer a newer perspective of public opinion to guide further business conducted by the organization. A survey was designed to fill this research gap. In consultation with current scientific research surrounding urban wildlife and coyote ecology, two primary sources of negative attitudes towards the species were identified: misconceptions regarding cases of aggression towards humans and pets by coyotes, and coyote diet. The survey, which ran from March 4th to March 28th 2015, collected 255 responses from Vancouver residents and included questions related to personal concerns, attitudes and knowledge towards coyotes. The survey results suggest that a majority of Vancouver residents are aware of coyote presence in the area. While 56.6% of respondents indicated that they felt positively towards coyotes and 30.4% indicating neutral attitudes, negative feelings towards the urban wildlife species was linked to misconceptions and overestimation of coyote size and cases of aggression. When compared to the results collected 20 years ago, more residents appear to have positive attitudes towards the species and misconceptions surrounding the species have decreased. However, the results still showed environmental illiteracy surrounding management issues such as the belief that relocation is a sustainable option. Based on the results, recommendations were made to target pet owners for educational campaigns, increase advertisement of existing resources, and to clarify role to public in collaboration with other government agencies and through self-promotion. Further research on garbage and compost storage habits in relation to the public perception of coyotes is also suggested.
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