Why Do People Feed Wildlife? An International Comparison
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The feeding of wildlife is a popular activity that is regularly undertaken throughout the Western world and despite the potential positive and negative impacts for both the wildlife and people involved there is very little known about the practice. Negative impacts are associated with issues of dependency, population and behavioural changes, and the risk of disease to name a few. Positive impacts of the practice are associated with the support that wildlife may receive through extra supplements to natural resources, and for people involved in the activity, there are benefits to both their well-being and conservation values through fostering the opportunity to connect with nature. Previous wildlife feeding research has shown that public wildlife feeding in the United Kingdom and Australia is quite extensive yet very little is known about why people engage in the activity and if there are any difference in feeding behaviour between the two countries. The general wildlife feeding attitudes in each country are strikingly different. In the United Kingdom wildlife feeding is encouraged, particularly of birds, to help support and conserve species within populated areas. In contrast, in Australia there is an unofficial opposition to the practice and it is generally discouraged based on concern about potential negative impacts. Due to these differences in wildlife feeding attitudes it was predicted that wildlife feeding practices would be different when comparisons were made between the two countries. The research explores the wildlife feeding practice in each country using an online survey to investigate the pattern of feeding, wildlife feeding motivations and attitudes, and the love, care and connection with nature of participants and any relationships this connection has with conservation values and behaviours. It was found that despite the difference in feeding attitudes in Australia and the United Kingdom the pattern of feeding was very similar in most instances. Additionally the predominant motivations to feed wildlife were also similar in both countries where the majority of participants feed wildlife to help support and care for the wildlife; as well as for the pleasure the activity brings them, which was consistent with previous research. The participants in this research were also found to have a high level of love, care and emotional connection with nature; that in turn was seen to demonstrate a positive relationship with both pro-environmental values and behaviour.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Griffith School of Environment.
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