Wildlife management methods such as culling (lethal control) and fencing can be controversial in some circumstances. Such controversy can be problematic for decision-makers or those managing decision-making processes and can lead to management delays or inertia. Understanding the reasons why people support or oppose specific management methods is therefore an important objective for researchers. Attitudes towards methods are in part based on individual beliefs about those methods, the species of wildlife being managed and other associated phenomena. This paper adopts a qualitative approach to develop understanding of these beliefs. We conducted 17 focus-groups on wild deer management at two locations in Britain, with both 'professional' land manager and 'public' participants (n = 103). We identified a number of individual beliefs which are grouped into five categories: naturalness, overabundance, impacts, effectiveness and animal welfare. Our findings suggest that potentially controversial management methods will receive most support where the objective is to maintain a 'natural' environment, at sites where impacts are evident, and when using targeted and effective methods.
- lethal control