What motivates gamekeepers to manage predators?

Published online
04 Nov 2020
Content type

Swan, G. & Redpath, S. & Crowley, S. & McDonald, R. A.
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Publication language
UK & England


This study was conducted to determine the underlying reasons behind gamekeeper decisions in predator management in the UK, based on 20 one-to-one discussions with different gamekeepers across southern England. These discussions focused on the social, personal and ecological factors that influenced how they felt about and acted towards various predatory species. We then analysed these conversations by sorting responses into different "motivations". Finally, we structured these motivations using a framework from the field of social-psychology (the theory of planned behaviour) that links how a person's beliefs influence their behaviour. It was shown that predator killing behaviour was influenced by motivations associated with professional identity, personal norms, potential penalties, perceived impact, personal enjoyment and perceived ease. In conclusion, predator killing is not solely due to perceptions of financial loss but of multiple interacting factors that include ideas of how others in their profession expect them to behave, feelings of personal responsibility for game and non-game wildlife,and individual assessments of predator populations and behaviours based on daily encounters. In describing the multiple drivers behind predator killing, this work identifies both opportunities and challenges in reducing social conflicts over wildlife management. It is suggested that conflict mitigation may be most effective if targeted at specific motivations.

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