Thesis: To fence or not to fence: Socio-economic considerations in feral predator management strategies for threatened species survivability
Predation by foxes and feral cats has been listed as key threatening processes for the survival of many Australian species under the EPBC Act. Predator management strategies to ensure threatened species’ survival need to be cost-effective, efficient at reducing predator populations as well as socially acceptable, especially if the recovery site is fragmented and surrounded by farmland.
This project will examine predator management strategies to ensure survivability of threatened species in a fragmented woodland in Western Australia from a socio-economic standpoint. Feral predator management options will be evaluated for their costs, social preferences, benefits in terms of the values of species being protected and outcomes (reducing wildlife take/reducing feral predator populations/ increasing threatened species’ populations) by constructing a Bayesian Decision Network model that will run for different scenarios to determine options that maximize utility and minimize costs.
Why my research is important
This project addresses an important gap in predator management literature that conservation agencies are keen to resolve; i.e., whether the installation and maintenance of feral-free enclosures for threatened species provides better value for money compared to creating and maintaining fence-free feral-free areas with lethal control using baiting, trapping shooting etc. or a combination of such techniques. There have been no studies that comprehensively review the cost-effectiveness of various feral predator management strategies or a comparative cost-effectiveness analysis on fencing versus lethal control options. Accounting for social preferences as well as the benefits of feral predator control strategies measured in terms of the economic and ecological values of threatened species will allow a decision to be examined socially and inclusively. This project will provide conservation planners with a first comprehensive study that considers both social and economic considerations of various feral predator management options and provide information for decision-making.