Date of Award

12-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Forestry

Major Professor

Neelam C. Poudyal

Committee Members

Lisa Muller, Charles Yoest

Abstract

Wild hogs (Sus scrofa) are an invasive species with destructive habits, particularly rooting and wallowing, which can directly impact agricultural crops, pasture land, and water quality. Considering wild hogs are widely dispersed across the landscape, it is extremely difficult to control them. Moreover, disagreements can arise among different stakeholders over whether and how their population should be managed. The purpose of this study was to examine Tennessee landowners’ attitudes toward wild hogs, to compare acceptability of control methods, and to evaluate the factors significantly influencing public support for wild hog control regulations. Logistic regression was used to analyze data collected from a statewide survey in Tennessee in the fall of 2015. Tennessee landowners had overwhelmingly negative attitudes towards wild hogs, and were concerned about the impact on the natural environment and rural economy. While landowners show support for controlling the wild hog population, levels of acceptability for options vary. Respondents favor active management and support education and incentive-based control programs to control wild hogs. Consistent with the Norm- Activation Theory, results showed social and personal norms, awareness of consequences, and other demographic characteristics significantly predicted landowners support for state regulations to control wild hogs in Tennessee. Findings increase our understanding of the human dimensions of wild hog management and that of other similarly invasive animals, and may guide resource managers in designing effective and socially acceptable management strategies to control wild hog populations in Tennessee and elsewhere.

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