Context: Wild pigs (Sus scrofa) are a non-native, invasive species that can cause significant damage to agricultural crops, and native flora and fauna. In the United States, damage and control costs have been estimated at 1.5 billion USD. A combination of early sexual maturity, high fecundity, opportunistic eating and well established populations forces managers to control wild pig densities and resulting damages. Aims: The present study aimed to examine the relationships among farmers' positive and negative beliefs about wild pigs, their perceived risks associated with wild pigs and their acceptability of lethal management actions for controlling agricultural damage. Methods: Data were obtained from a mail survey of Illinois farmers (n = 3035, response rate = 58%). Variables consisted of six belief statements (three negative, e.g. wild pigs are a source of disease, and three positive, e.g. 'I enjoy seeing wild pigs around my property'), five perceived risk statements (e.g. wild pigs cause property damage) and four statements regarding the acceptability of lethal management actions for controlling the impact of wild pigs (e.g. shooting wild pigs from a helicopter). Key results: The relationships between the negative and positive beliefs and the acceptability of lethal management were partially mediated by perceptions of risk (Hypothesis 1). Perceived risks associated with wild pigs were related to negative (Hypothesis 2) and positive (Hypothesis 3) beliefs about wild pigs, as well as acceptability of lethal management actions (Hypothesis 4) to control the impact of wild pigs. In addition, negative beliefs (Hypothesis 5) and positive beliefs (Hypothesis 6) were related to support for lethal control. Conclusions: These relationships occurred despite the relatively low prevalence of wild pigs in Illinois and suggest that lethal actions are acceptable even though perceived risks are low. Implications: Findings suggested that perceived risks associated with wild pigs were not substantially related to the attributes of the farm (e.g. farm ownership, crops grown, total acres farmed) or demographic characteristics (i.e. sex, age). Managers should focus on influencing the psychological indicators (e.g. negative and positive beliefs, perceived risks) to increase the acceptability of lethal management actions for mitigating the impacts of wild pigs.
- invasive species
- population management
- social dimensions
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law