Understanding tolerance for an invasive species: An investigation of hunter acceptance capacity for wild pigs (Sus scrofa) in Texas.
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Invasive species and their establishment in new areas have significant impacts on the ecological, economic, and social well-being of our planet. Wild pigs (Sus scrofa) are one of the world's most formidable invasive species, particularly in the United States. They cause significant damage to agriculture and ecosystems, and can transmit diseases to livestock, wildlife, and people. There is an inherent social dimension to the issue of wild pigs due in part to the fact that people hunt them. Hunting contributes to both the control and spread of this species. The objectives of this study were to: 1) determine hunters' overall tolerance for wild pigs; and 2) identify what factors predict hunters' tolerance. Results obtained from a survey of Texas hunters in 2019 indicated that 83% of hunters had a low level of tolerance for wild pigs, with approximately 63% preferring to see the population reduced and 20% preferring to see the population completely removed. Fourteen percent preferred that wild pig numbers remain the same, and 2% preferred to see numbers increase. Results from regression analysis indicated that approximately 53% of the variance in tolerance for wild pigs was explained by motivations and preferences for hunting wild pigs, level of concern for wild pig damage, and overall attitudes toward wild pigs. Results of this research are useful in expanding current knowledge about human tolerance for wildlife, including those species that are non-native and invasive, and in identifying important factors affecting how hunters perceive and interact with wild pigs. Study findings are also helpful in informing the development of effective and socially acceptable management plans for wild pigs, as well as communication efforts aimed at influencing hunters' attitudes and behaviors in the wild pig management context.