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To know a tiger is at least to start tolerating them, study shows
Date:7/31/2012

h is unique in that it explores peoples' attitudes about protected animals. Work has been done to understand how people feel about their wildlife neighbors, such as deer or coyotes. But the relationship with protected animals, especially those that can be dangerous, is more complicated. Issues of fear, risk and control make for a volatile mix, as do the constraints on solutions.

"You can't just remove all the tigers, or the grizzly bears, or other carnivores that may pose a risk to people. Managing animal populations in this fashion is not a viable option for protected species," Carter said. "It's imperative to come up with ways that people and carnivores can get along."

Policy and laws aren't enough, he says. Carter said that in Nepal and around the world, people kill protected animals or turn a blind eye to poachers.

Carter, with his collaborators, surveyed 499 people living near Chitwan about how they feel about future tiger population size and factors that may influence preferences, like past interactions with tigers as well as beliefs and perceptions about tigers.

Among the findings:

While more study is needed, this work hints that it's not fear that drives people's preferences for the number of future tigers. Rather, it's a combination of psychological responses that focus on the benefits and pragmatic costs of having tigers nearby.

"We expected that interactions real experiences with tigers in the wild would be most influential," Carter said. "Someone who had three cattle killed would have different tolerance than someone who hasn't. Perhaps, if you're exposed to something all the time, the fear stops becoming the powerful predictor."

The survey identifies opportunities. For example, it was clear that people's beliefs that tigers weren't beneficial to the forest influenced their acceptance of tigers, a belief that had nothing to do with risk.

"That's a real simple educational oppo
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Contact: Neil Carter
cartern7@msu.edu
858-414-0434
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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