Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Coyote? A Survey of Messaging and Existing Attitudes in the National Capital Region
Coyotes are relatively recent arrivals to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. In an effort to understand and obtain baseline data about existing attitudes, a survey was conducted in 2006. Most respondents had neutral attitudes towards coyotes, which might be in part due to low levels of awareness about their presence in the area. Of particular interest, pet owners seemed to have more extreme attitudes, either positively or negatively, towards coyotes, and women tended to have more negative attitudes towards coyotes. Wildlife managers and others interested in preventing and reducing human-coyote conflict should capitalize on the current situation and develop outreach programs that will teach people how to live near coyotes as well as engender positive attitudes towards them. The survey also looked at the effect that small pieces of information in various categories (coyote behavior and ecology, human-coyote interactions, and images of coyotes) had on attitudes. Statements about coyote behavior, especially those that emphasized the social aspects of their lives, proved to be the most effective in increasing positive attitudes. Amongst other findings, statements about attempts to eradicate coyotes were viewed negatively and some traditional images associated with coyotes (especially a coyote howling) were also viewed negatively. This information will be useful to wildlife managers and others interested in designing outreach materials.
Coyotes, Attitudes towards wildlife, Human-wildlife conflict, Social marketing