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Modeling perceived risk from coyotes among Chicago residents

By Molly Spacapan

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Coyote management in urban areas has become a concern for wildlife professionals. In the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Region (GCMR) wildlife professionals have received an increased number of complaints from residents. Based on cultural theory and cognitive hierarchy theory, we hypothesized that (a) individuals with mutualistic wildlife value orientations are more likely to have positive beliefs about coyotes than negative beliefs; (b) individuals with deterministic wildlife value orientations are more likely to have negative beliefs rather than positive beliefs about coyotes; (c) people having negative beliefs about coyotes perceive higher risk from coyotes than do people having positive beliefs about coyotes; (d) beliefs about coyotes mediate the relationship between wildlife value orientations and perceived risks from coyotes. Data were obtained from a mailed survey of GCMR residents during 2012 (n = 1,624). Wildlife value orientations were measured using two sets of basic beliefs (i.e., mutualism, domination). The mutualism index included five variables (e.g., Wildlife should have the same rights as humans). The domination index was measured with four items (e.g., The needs of human should take priority over wildlife protection). Beliefs about coyotes were measured using two indices. The first index included four positive statements about coyotes (e.g., I enjoy seeing coyotes in my community). The second scale included three negative beliefs about coyotes (e.g., I feel coyotes are a nuisance). Perceived risk was measured with four variables (e.g., safety of pets). A confirmatory factor analysis suggested that the data fit the model (RMSEA = .06, CFI = .98, NFI = .97, chi-square/df = 7.63). A direct effect Structured Equation Model (SEM) indicated that both mutualism and domination wildlife value orientations influenced perceived risk. When the positive and negative belief indices were included in the SEM, however, neither value orientation was significant. These findings support the mediation hypothesis. In the final full mediation model, mutualism wildlife value orientation was positively related to positive beliefs about coyotes (β = .68) and negatively related to negative beliefs (β = -.37). As expected, domination wildlife value orientations was positively related to negative beliefs (β = .33) and negatively related to positive belief β = -.16). The two wildlife value orientations explained 64% of the variance in positive beliefs and 40% of the variance in negative beliefs. When the two beliefs about coyotes were regressed on perceived risk, only the negative beliefs index was statistically significant (β= .80) and accounted for 68% of the variance. These findings support the hypothesized relationships. The respondent typology created by this research may be used by wildlife professionals to market coyote information to the specific types of GCMR residents, perhaps increasing information dissemination and retention. Moreover, findings from this study are applicable to both urban coyote and general urban wildlife management. Theoretical implications include the successful ability to solicit cognitive hierarchy concepts using mail surveys, and support for using cognitive hierarchy theory in wildlife management.


Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Date 2013
Pages 60
Publisher University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Location of Publication Champaign, IL
Degree Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Animals in culture
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Chicago
  5. Coyotes
  6. human-wildlife interactions
  7. Mammals
  8. Nature
  9. Physical environment
  10. risk
  11. urban areas
  12. urbanization
  13. Urban wildlife
  14. Wild animals