Hello! I’m Carol and I conduct multidisciplinary research on wildlife conservation issues, using wildlife biology, spatial ecology, conservation psychology, and sociology approaches.
My PhD dissertation work is focused on understanding human and carnivore interactions in Washington state.
I am currently a graduate student at the University of Washington-Seattle School of Environment and Forest Sciences (SEFS). My advisor Dr. John Marzluff secured a grant for the “Feasibility of a Wolf Economy” that formed the basis of my dissertation.
Human-wildlife interactions have become a central focus of conservation research and policy. Interactions between humans and large carnivores are especially challenging because these species typically require large landscapes, compete for prey, and may pose a threat to some livelihoods, meaning that their presence is often incompatible with anthropogenic land use priorities. As large carnivores move about for daily, seasonal or relocation movements they require movement habitat or habitat corridors. It is unknown whether having connected habitat that enable carnivore movements could have a cost on human-carnivore interactions in human dominated landscapes. I used GPS-collared data and Circuitscape software to study cougars (Puma concolor) habitat connectivity and to assess whether landscape connectivity influenced cougar-human interactions in areas of western Washington. I found a higher incidence of cougar-human interactions in areas of low landscape connectivity, closer to roads and rivers, and farther away from public forests. Our data suggests that in human dominated landscapes intact landscape connectivity had an additional advantage of discouraging interactions between cougars and humans.
Where human-carnivore interactions occur, it is important to understand what the humans who share space with the carnivores perceive of nonlethal ways to prevent conflicts and economic ways to realize benefits from carnivores that can increase coexistence with the carnivores. Thus, I also conducted interviews with stakeholders concerned with wolves (Canis lupus) to document what motivates ranchers to participate in cost-shared nonlethal strategies, and whether predator-friendly beef would be a feasible economic measure to increase coexistence between ranches and wolves. I found that both economic and social factors motivate and constrain ranchers from participating in cost-shared nonlethal strategies to better coexist with wolves. Ranchers were already participating in nonlethal strategies that were recommended in the cost-shared programs and therefore were not motivated to enroll in similar programs. Furthermore, participating in cost-shared programs was not consequential for ranchers because all ranchers are eligible for compensation for livestock lost to wolves whether they are enrolled in nonlethal programs or not. Interviews investigating predator-friendly beef as an economic benefit to enable ranchers to better coexist with wolves revealed that ranchers could be motivated to participate because of the opportunity to communicate to non-ranchers. The constraints to predator-friendly beef, however, included competition on the market against other certified products, and underlying social factors that would dissuade ranchers from participating in predator-friendly beef certifications. The findings from the qualitative chapters suggest that rural residents might participate better in cost-share programs if those programs were led by their local leaders, and more streamlined to reduce the regulatory burden to the ranchers. Mitigation strategies could be focused at location-specific basis to enable ranchers to work with their neighbors and local association to implement socially acceptable and adaptable nonlethal measures to better coexist with wolves.