Using Decision Modeling with Stakeholders to Reduce Human–Wildlife Conflict: a Raptor–Grouse Case Study
In the uplands of the United Kingdom, a controversial conservation issue concerns the relationship between the conservation of a legally protected raptor, the Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus) and the management of a gamebird, the Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus scoticus). Multicriteria analysis was used to evaluate the perspectives of two groups of stakeholders, grouse managers and raptor conservationists, and the acceptability to them of different management solutions to this conflict. Both groups quantified the relative importance of evaluation criteria and used these as a basis for comparing different upland and Hen Harrier management options. In relation to upland management, grouse managers placed more importance on economic criteria than did raptor conservationists, who valued natural-environment criteria more highly. Intensively managed grouse moors, involving the control of harrier numbers, were ranked most highly by grouse managers and managed nature reserves by raptor conservationists, but both groups also ranked legally managed grouse moors highly. When evaluating Hen Harrier management options, grouse managers considered time scale and cost the most important criteria, whereas raptor conservationists considered the effects on harrier populations to be most important. Harrier quota schemes were the management solution most favored by grouse managers, whereas raptor conservationists preferred allowing harriers to attain natural densities. Notably, however, one technique that has already been partly tested in the field—the use of diversionary feeding was scored highly by both groups and thus holds promise for some form of compromise.