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Opinions, Attitudes, and Risk Perceptions about American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) in Florida

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0043021/00001

Material Information

Title: Opinions, Attitudes, and Risk Perceptions about American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) in Florida
Physical Description: 1 online resource (114 p.)
Language: english
Creator: HAYMAN,REBECCA BLAIR
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2011

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: ALLIGATOR -- ATTITUDE -- FLORIDA -- MISSISSIPPIENSIS -- NUISANCE -- OPINION -- RISK -- SURVEY -- WILDLIFE
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Wildlife Ecology and Conservation thesis, M.S.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: OPINIONS, ATTITUDES, AND RISK PERCEPTIONS ABOUT AMERICAN ALLIGATORS (ALLIGATOR MISSISSIPPIENSIS) IN FLORIDA As American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) populations in Florida have recovered from depressed levels in the 1960?s, human-alligator conflicts have increased. Maintaining populations of potentially dangerous wildlife species at levels consistent with human desires can be a challenge. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission?s (FWC) Alligator Management Program has previously conducted surveys of public opinions about alligators, and the purpose of this study was to gauge current experience, knowledge, attitudes and risk perceptions about alligators, as well as preferences for alligator population levels and opinions about management strategies. A questionnaire with an explanatory cover letter was mailed to 2,600 randomly selected Florida households and 1,000 households that had reported a complaint about a nuisance alligator to the FWC within the previous year. We received 1,175 completed questionnaires, 60.3% (n = 708) of which were from the randomly selected households. Forty-four percent (n = 510) reported having requested that a nuisance alligator be removed, whereas 56% (n = 644) reported never having made such a request. The general public reported relatively positive attitudes about alligators and relatively low perceived risk from alligators. We found differences between nuisance complainants and non-complainants in knowledge levels, attitudes, nuisance behavior beliefs, and risk perceptions associated with alligators. Stepwise regression was used to predict personal risk perception in a model which explained 37.7% of the variance. Binary logistic regression was used to predict a person?s preferences for alligator populations in residential areas in a model with an overall accuracy rate of 79.2% and whether a person had complained about an alligator in a model with an overall accuracy rate of 79.6% and used to predict. Understanding which factors are most important in perceived risk from alligators, tolerance of alligator behavior by the public, and how various groups of the public differ in these measures can help FWC tailor education efforts and management strategies for alligators in Florida. Managers should proactively use news and TV nature shows to stress the importance of appropriate behavior and the low probability of negative human-alligator encounters when those behaviors are upheld. Managers should not allow views of complainants to over-influence nuisance alligator policies.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by REBECCA BLAIR HAYMAN.
Thesis: Thesis (M.S.)--University of Florida, 2011.
Local: Adviser: Mazzotti, Frank J.
Electronic Access: RESTRICTED TO UF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE UNTIL 2013-04-30

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2011
System ID: UFE0043021:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0043021/00001

Material Information

Title: Opinions, Attitudes, and Risk Perceptions about American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) in Florida
Physical Description: 1 online resource (114 p.)
Language: english
Creator: HAYMAN,REBECCA BLAIR
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2011

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: ALLIGATOR -- ATTITUDE -- FLORIDA -- MISSISSIPPIENSIS -- NUISANCE -- OPINION -- RISK -- SURVEY -- WILDLIFE
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Wildlife Ecology and Conservation thesis, M.S.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: OPINIONS, ATTITUDES, AND RISK PERCEPTIONS ABOUT AMERICAN ALLIGATORS (ALLIGATOR MISSISSIPPIENSIS) IN FLORIDA As American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) populations in Florida have recovered from depressed levels in the 1960?s, human-alligator conflicts have increased. Maintaining populations of potentially dangerous wildlife species at levels consistent with human desires can be a challenge. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission?s (FWC) Alligator Management Program has previously conducted surveys of public opinions about alligators, and the purpose of this study was to gauge current experience, knowledge, attitudes and risk perceptions about alligators, as well as preferences for alligator population levels and opinions about management strategies. A questionnaire with an explanatory cover letter was mailed to 2,600 randomly selected Florida households and 1,000 households that had reported a complaint about a nuisance alligator to the FWC within the previous year. We received 1,175 completed questionnaires, 60.3% (n = 708) of which were from the randomly selected households. Forty-four percent (n = 510) reported having requested that a nuisance alligator be removed, whereas 56% (n = 644) reported never having made such a request. The general public reported relatively positive attitudes about alligators and relatively low perceived risk from alligators. We found differences between nuisance complainants and non-complainants in knowledge levels, attitudes, nuisance behavior beliefs, and risk perceptions associated with alligators. Stepwise regression was used to predict personal risk perception in a model which explained 37.7% of the variance. Binary logistic regression was used to predict a person?s preferences for alligator populations in residential areas in a model with an overall accuracy rate of 79.2% and whether a person had complained about an alligator in a model with an overall accuracy rate of 79.6% and used to predict. Understanding which factors are most important in perceived risk from alligators, tolerance of alligator behavior by the public, and how various groups of the public differ in these measures can help FWC tailor education efforts and management strategies for alligators in Florida. Managers should proactively use news and TV nature shows to stress the importance of appropriate behavior and the low probability of negative human-alligator encounters when those behaviors are upheld. Managers should not allow views of complainants to over-influence nuisance alligator policies.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by REBECCA BLAIR HAYMAN.
Thesis: Thesis (M.S.)--University of Florida, 2011.
Local: Adviser: Mazzotti, Frank J.
Electronic Access: RESTRICTED TO UF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE UNTIL 2013-04-30

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2011
System ID: UFE0043021:00001


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OPINIONS, ATTITUDES, AND RI SK PERCEPTIONS ABOUT AMERICAN ALLIGATORS ( ALLIGATOR MISSISSIPPIENSIS ) IN FLORIDA By REBECCA BLAIR HAYMAN A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2011 1

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2011 Rebecca Blair Hayman 2

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To my friends and family who helped and encouraged me during this process 3

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I am grateful to my committee members for their help throughout this project: Frank Mazzotti for serving as my advisor for th is project; Glenn Israel for his expertise in instrument content, formatti ng, and statistical consulta tion; Mark Brennan for his help with survey design; and Rebecca Harvey for her advice on related literature and statistical analyses. I am gratef ul to Franklin Percival and the Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit for assistance while I was in Gainesville. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissi on funded the study. I am also very grateful to Allan Woodward and Harry Dutton for agreeing to take on this project as a Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission suppo rted study, and for their assistance throughout, and to Lindsey Hord, for his understanding and suppor t of my flexible work scheduling during this process. I am indebted to my friends and family for all of their moral support. 4

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TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDG MENTS .................................................................................................. 4LIST OF TABLES ............................................................................................................ 8LIST OF FI GURES .......................................................................................................... 9LIST OF ABBR EVIATION S ........................................................................................... 10ABSTRACT ................................................................................................................... 11CHAPTER 1 INTRODUC TION .................................................................................................... 13Alligator Population and M anagement in Florida .................................................... 14Risk Perception as a Factor in Predator A cceptance .............................................. 16Conceptual Fr amewor k ........................................................................................... 19Study Pur pose ........................................................................................................ 222 METHOD S .............................................................................................................. 24Survey Inst rument ................................................................................................... 24Survey Depl oyment ................................................................................................ 27Response ................................................................................................................ 27Response Ra te ................................................................................................. 27Non-Response Bias ......................................................................................... 28Coverage E rror ................................................................................................. 28Survey Co ntent ....................................................................................................... 29Experience with Alligator s ................................................................................ 29Sources of Information about Alliga tors ............................................................ 30Knowledge about A lligators .............................................................................. 31Attitudes about Alligator s .................................................................................. 31Size Estimates about Alligat ors ........................................................................ 33Risk Perceptions abo ut Alligat ors ..................................................................... 33Opinions about Alligator Management Stra tegies ............................................ 35Management on AMUs .............................................................................. 35Nuisance alligator management ................................................................. 36Small nuisance alli gator managem ent ....................................................... 36Beliefs about Nuisance A lligator Behaviors ...................................................... 37Demographi cs .................................................................................................. 39Free Respons es ............................................................................................... 39Data Anal ysis .......................................................................................................... 40Descriptive Analyses ........................................................................................ 40Predictive A nalyses .......................................................................................... 43 5

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Personal risk per ception ............................................................................ 43Alligator populations in residential areas .................................................... 45Complainant status .................................................................................... 473 RESULT S ............................................................................................................... 49General Public Respondent Characteri stics ........................................................... 49Differences between Complain ants and Non-complainants .................................... 50Descriptive Analyse s............................................................................................... 53Experience with Alligator s ................................................................................ 53Sources of Information about Alliga tors ............................................................ 55Knowledge of Alligator s .................................................................................... 57Attitudes about Alligator s .................................................................................. 58Size Estimates about Alligat ors ........................................................................ 60Risk Perceptions abo ut Alligat ors ..................................................................... 61Preferences for Alligator Populat ions ............................................................... 62Opinions about Alligator Management Stra tegies ............................................ 65Management on AMUs .............................................................................. 65Nuisance alligator management ................................................................. 68Small nuisance alli gator managem ent ....................................................... 71Beliefs about Nuisance A lligator Behaviors ...................................................... 72Free Respons es ............................................................................................... 74Correlations among Key Measur es .................................................................. 74Predictive A nalyses ................................................................................................ 76Personal Risk Pe rception ................................................................................. 76Alligator Populations in Residential Areas ........................................................ 78Complainant Status .......................................................................................... 794 DISCUSSI ON ......................................................................................................... 81Response ................................................................................................................ 81Overall Find ings ...................................................................................................... 82Comparison with Past Allig ator Opinion Surveys .................................................... 86Management Recomm endations ............................................................................ 87Conclusi on .............................................................................................................. 90APPENDIX A THE ANNOUNCEMENT POSTCA RD .................................................................... 92B THE FIRST COVER LETTE R ................................................................................. 93C THE REMINDER POSTCARD ................................................................................ 94D THE SECOND CO VER LETTE R ............................................................................ 95E THE SELF-ADMINISTE RED QUESTIO NNAIRE .................................................... 96 6

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LIST OF REFE RENCES ............................................................................................. 108BIOGRAPHICAL SK ETCH .......................................................................................... 114 7

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LIST OF TABLES Table page 2-1 Questions addressing attitudes toward alligators in a 2009 Florida survey ........ 322-2 Questions addressing risk percepti ons about alligators in a 2009 Florida survey ................................................................................................................. 342-3 Questions addressing beliefs about what constitutes nuisance alligator behavior in a 2009 Florida survey ....................................................................... 383-1 Mean values or percentages of respondents by demographic categories who reported they either had or had not requested an alligat or be removed ............. 513-2 Percentages of respondents to questi ons related to potential alligator exposure who either had or had not requested an alligat or be removed ............ 523-3 Mean values or percentages by complaint status to questions about experience, knowledge, attitudes, and perceived ri sk from alligators ................. 543-4 Mean values or percentages of respondents by complaint status and response category to questions re lated to alligator management ....................... 703-5 Percent of the Florida public w ho agree or disagree with statements regarding nuisance alli gator managem ent .......................................................... 723-6 Pearson correlation coefficients for key measures related to the Florida publics opinions ab out alligat ors ........................................................................ 753-7 Variables in a multiple regression model for predicting perceived level of personal risk from alligat ors ................................................................................ 763-8 Variables in a stepwise multiple r egression model for predicting perceived level of personal risk from alli gators ................................................................... 773-9 Variables in a binary logistic regression model to predict whether respondents believed there were too many alligators in residential areas ....... 783-10 Variables in a binary logistic regression model to predict whether respondents had ever complained about a nuisance alligator ............................ 80 8

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LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 1-1 Conceptual model of relations hips between key variables ................................. 232-1 Sampling design for a 2009 survey about alligators in Florida ........................... 263-1 Experience levels with alligators in Florida for the general public, nuisance alligator complainants, and non-complainants in 2009 ....................................... 533-2 Amount the Florida public report ed they had learned about alligators by information source in 2009 ................................................................................. 563-3 Mean scores of Floridas public and by complaint status to 10 questions that addressed knowledge of a lligators in 2009 ......................................................... 583-4 Mean scores of Floridas public and by complaint status on the principal component of 10 questions that addre ssed attitudes about alligators ................ 593-5 Mean scores by age of Floridas pub lic on the principal component of 10 questions that addressed atti tudes about al ligators ............................................ 603-6 Mean scores of Floridas public a nd by complaint status on principal components of 16 questions that address ed perceived risks from alligators ...... 623-7 Opinions of Floridas public and by complaint status about the amount of alligators in residential and non -residential areas in 200 9 .................................. 643-8 Opinions of Floridas general public about the amount of alligators in residential and non-residential areas in 199 6 and 2009 ..................................... 653-9 Levels of agreement wit h FWCs strategy for maintaining alligator populations on AMUs by the general and by complainan t status ....................... 663-10 Mean scores of the public and by complainant status on principal components of 10 items about what ma kes an alligator a nuisance ................... 73 9

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LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AMU Alligator management unit FWC Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission PCA Principal component analysis WAC Wildlife acceptance capacity WSAC Wildlife stakeholder acceptance capacity 10

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Abstract of Thesis Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulf illment of the Requirements for t he Degree of Master of Science OPINIONS, ATTITUDES, AND RI SK PERCEPTIONS ABOUT AMERICAN ALLIGATORS ( ALLIGATOR MISSISSIPPIENSIS ) IN FLORIDA By Rebecca Blair Hayman May 2011 Chair: Frank J. Mazzotti Major: Wildlife Ecology and Conservation As American alligator ( Alligator mississippiensis) populations in Florida have recovered from depressed levels in t he 1960s, human-alligat or conflicts have increased. Maintaining populations of potentia lly dangerous wildlife species at levels consistent with human desires can be a c hallenge. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissions (FWC) Alligator Management Program has previously conducted surveys of public opinions about alli gators, and the purpose of this study was to gauge current experience, knowledge, atti tudes and risk perceptions about alligators, as well as preferences for alligator popul ation levels and opinions about management strategies. A questionnaire with an explanatory cove r letter was mailed to 2,600 randomly selected Florida households and 1,000 households that had reported a complaint about a nuisance alligator to the FWC within the previous year We received 1,175 completed questionnaires, 60.3% ( n = 708) of which were from the randomly selected households. Forty-four percent ( n = 510) reported having requested that a nuisance alligator be removed, whereas 56% ( n = 644) reported never having made such a request. 11

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12 The general public reported relatively positive attitudes about alligators and relatively low perceived risk from alligators. We found differences between nuisance complainants and non-complainants in k nowledge levels, attitudes, nuisance behavior beliefs, and risk perceptions associated with al ligators. Stepwise regression was used to predict personal risk perception in a model which explained 37.7% of the variance. Binary logistic regression was used to predi ct a persons preferences for alligator populations in residential areas in a model with an overall accuracy rate of 79.2% and whether a person had complained about an alli gator in a model with an overall accuracy rate of 79.6% and used to predict. Understanding which factors ar e most important in perce ived risk from alligators, tolerance of alligator behavior by the public and how various groups of the public differ in these measures can help FWC tailor education efforts and management strategies for alligators in Florida. Managers should pr oactively use news and TV nature shows to stress the importance of appropriate behavior and the low probability of negative human-alligator encounters when those behaviors are upheld. Managers should not allow views of complainants to over-i nfluence nuisance alligator policies.

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The rebound of the American alligator ( Alligator mississippiensis ) population in the U.S. during the 1970s and its s ubsequent down-listing to threatened due to similarity of appearance in Florida in 1985 (Neal 1985), then range-wide in 1987 (Neal 1987), is often cited as an endangered species success story (Barrow 2009). This increase in alligator populations was accompanied by an increase in complaints about nuisance alligators (Woodward & Cook 2000). Wildlife management decisions are incr easingly being influenced by stakeholders (Riley et al. 2002). Groups who disagr ee with management recommendations have gone so far as to challenge them in court and propose ballot initiatives that restrict management options (Torres et al. 1996; Trev es 2008). To attempt to preclude such controversy, state management agencies now r outinely encourage citi zen participation in decision-making (Guynn & Landry 1997). As a result, managers are challenged with maintaining wildlife populations at levels co nsistent with human desires (Riley & Decker 2000a). The concepts of Wildlife Acceptanc e Capacity (WAC) and Wildlife Stakeholder Acceptance Capacity (WSAC) have been descr ibed as the maximum number of a particular wildlife species acceptable to peop le in an area (Decker & Purdy 1988; Riley & Decker 2000a; Carpenter et al. 2000). Cons idering WSAC for large predators that prey on domestic animals and occasionally hum ans is particularly important (Riley & Decker 2000a). Smithem and Mazzotti ( 2008) examined risk perceptions and acceptance capacity for American crocodiles ( Crocodylus acutus ) in southern Florida. The alligators statewide distribution in Florida makes this study unique. 13

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Alligator Population and Management in Florida Alligators occur in all of Floridas 67 counties, and can occur in all types of aquatic habitats. The current statewi de alligator population is esti mated at 1.25 million, based on available habitat and average alligator densit ies within that habitat (FWC Alligator Management Program). Floridas alligator populations have reco vered from depressed levels during the 1960s (Woodward & Moore 1995), and the st ates human population has markedly increased since that time (United States Cens us Bureau a). Not su rprisingly, conflicts between people and alligators have risen st eadily since the 1970s (Woodward & Cook 2000). The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC; then the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission) began managing alligator s 1977. In 1978, the state began a program to remo ve problem alligators (Woodw ard & Cook 2000), and in 1981 began experimental harvests of alligators from public waters (Woodward et al. 1987). FWCs Alligator Management Program was designed to conserve alligators and their habitat throughout the st ate by establishing mech anisms which will provide economic incentives for the public and privat e sector to conserve wetlands (David 1986). Program elements include: alligator fa rming (and associated collection of eggs and hatchlings); harvest of alli gators from public waters; harvest of alligators from private lands; and harvest of nuisance alligat ors that might pose a public safety risk. Interested citizens can attend meetings of the FWC and voice their opinions on management policy directly to commissioners during public comment periods (FWC Commission Meeting Protocol). Individual FWC programs may also reach out to stakeholder groups proactively. For exampl e, in late 2006 and early 2007, the FWC sought input from stakeholder groups, via an online survey, about possible changes to 14

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the status and managem ent of alligators in Florida (H. J. Dutton, personal communication). FWC received conflicting fe edback from stakeholder groups; some believed alligator populations excessive while others believed t hat populations have already been reduced below desirable levels. Although informal, this survey highlighted a need for a more sophisticated examination of Floridians knowledge and opinions about alligators. FWC has previously c onducted surveys of public attitudes about alligators in 1976 (Hines & Scheaffer 1977) and 1996 (Duda et al. 1996), but questions of management interest have changed as alligator and human populations have changed. Knowledge of public perceptions about appropriate predator population levels is valuable in assessing probable reactions to management decisions (Jacobson et al. 2004). McCleery et al. (2006) suggest that to improve wildlife attitudinal research, stakeholder groups should be targeted. Howeve r, when a wildlife species is widespread and conflicts occurs regularly in both urban/suburban and rural environments throughout the state, querying only known st akeholders may not be sufficient grounds on which to base management decisions. These groups represent specific interests and may not reflect those of the majority of the general public. While stakeholders may be the very people who should be targeted for op inions on local or specific interest concerns (crop depredation by deer, for exampl e), the statewide di stribution and public safety concern of alligators in Florida make its management unique. Reiter et al. (1999) found that the US public ranked human safety the most important factor that managers should consider when selecting management methods. By describing opinions of stakeholders (here, nuisance alligator complainants) as well as those of randomly 15

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selected individuals, this study provides insight into preferences of both groups and differences between them. Risk Perception as a Factor in Predator Acceptance Research supports the idea that people are more willing to accept risks they feel they take voluntarily (Slovic 1987). For mu ch of human history, occasional predation by wild animals was a risk that people had little cont rol over. Destruction of the responsible animal was an option, but extirpation of the predator population was often not feasible given relative low human population density and lack of technology. Thus, historically, people had far less control over predator populations than today in many countries. One might expect increases in actual control to accompany a corresponding decrease in perceived environmental risks. However, there can often be a gap between level of actual risk (as assessed by through scientific study) and that of perceived risk (as assessed by laymen). Whereas experts use complex analyses to assess risks, most people instead rely on risk perceptions, which are intuitive reactions (Slovic & Peters 2006). Slovic (1987) posits that most Americans believe that their levels of risk are increasing. Advances in detecting low-level risks and the medias role in reporting hazards have been hypothesized as reas ons for heightened risk perceptions (Zeckhauser & Viscusi 1990; Slovic 1987). Sl ovic (1987) further asserts that the resulting attempt by the American public to eliminate all risks (a quest for a zero-risk society), threatens political and econom ic stability. This phenomenon may also threaten local biodiversity, as people may be unwilling to accept risks associated with predators and seek to remove them from areas of human habitation. Additionally, research suggests that in America, forces of modernization (e.g., urbanization, education, and income) are link ed to a societal level shift from a 16

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domination wildlife value orientation to one of mutualism (Manfredo et al. 2009). Manfredo et al. (2009) assert that the waning domination orientation corresponds to a higher prioritization of human well-being over wildlife (and greater a cceptance of lethal control of wildlife), while the waxing mutualism orientation corresponds to a view of animals as having rights and deserving care and compassion (and reduced acceptance of lethal control of wildlife). This shift in values, and the laws and institutions reflecting those values, might lead to a reduction in perceived control over predator populations because, in short, extirpation of native wildlife (even potentia lly dangerous wildlife) is no longer socially acceptable. Risks to people from wildlife ca n come not only in the form of direct personal harm, but also as risks to family members, others in the community, pets, or to livestock or crops (and thus livelihood). In Tanzania, locals living near preserves who suffer losses from wildlife and feel they are not able to cont rol that risk are less likely to be supportive of preserve employees or of mainta ining the preserves (Newmark 1993). In the United States, wild life is publicly owned and its habitat spans public and private lands. These facts, coupled with our democratic government system, result in wildlife management decisions based ultima tely on public opinion (Zinn et al. 2000). Increasingly, stakeholders are influencing m anagement decisions (Riley et al. 2002). Stakeholder groups often disagree about appr opriate wildlife population levels, which can present a challenge for managers (Zinn et al. 2000). Riley and Decker (2000b) demonstrated that knowledge of current population levels and personal involvement with cougar s in Montana affected risk perception (thus WSAC). Considering WSAC for large predat ors that prey on domestic animals and 17

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occasionally humans is particularly difficu lt (Riley & Decker 2000a). Zinn and Manfredo (1998) have shown that beliefs about appropriate management decisions are influenced by the species under considerat ion, the incident extremity (i .e., animals behavior), and the response extremity (i.e., management action). Zinn and Pierce (2002) demonstrated that the acceptability of destroying a mount ain lion increased as the situation increased in severity (e.g., from sighti ng a mountain lion to a fatal a ttack by a mountain lion on a human). These findings suggest that kno wledge of stakeholders tolerance (i.e., WSAC) of a species can help managers understand their views about possible management scenarios. However, discussions of acceptance of large, potentially dangerous animals have almost exclusively focused on mammals (K ellert et al. 1996; Riley & Decker 2000a, 2000b; Rskaft et al. 2007; Naughton-Treves et al. 2003; Vaske & Needham 2007; Bath et al. 2008). Literature supports the idea that human perceptions of animals are affected by factors such as the species presumed inte lligence, cultural sign ificance, morphology, and locomotion (Kellert et al. 1996). Thus ther e is reason to believe that attitudes and opinions about mammals may be different in important ways from those about other taxa. Perceptions about crocodilians, for exampl e, may be less favorable than those of mammals. Species life history traits may be a factor. For example, cougars and other mammalian predators may be more secretive and likely to exist at lower densities in areas near humans than some crocodilians. T hus, the relative visibility and abundance of crocodilians in human-occupied areas may make potential risks from them more salient than those from other animals. As Cald icott et al. (2005) point out, crocodilians, 18

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unlike most other animals, sometimes target humans as they would other prey items. Perhaps factors such as this and their stra tegy as an ambush predator, might contribute to an increased dread feeling associated wit h the idea of a crocodilian attack. Smithem and Mazzotti (2008) found that residents and visitors have low risk perceptions of American crocodiles in south Florida, and generally vi ew them favorably. Crocodiles were seen as beneficial and a cceptance capacity for them was high. American crocodiles are a recovering species, federally listed as threatened. Rskaft et al. (2007) found that people were more supp ortive of increasing populations of predators that were fewer in number than those that were mo re common (even when they displayed more negative attitudes towa rd those animals). This suggests that current population size may be an import ant determinant of a cceptance capacity. American alligators, in contrast to crocodiles, are abundant throughout Florida. In Florida, the number of comp laints about nuisance alligators has increased steadily as alligator populations have recovered (Woodward & Cook 2000). Nuisance complaints about crocodiles, too, have increased as t heir numbers have increased (Cherkiss et al. 2008). Worldwide, views toward crocodilian conservation have become less positive as small populations have recovered (Caldicott et al. 2005). Our study helps to broaden the base of information about risk perception a nd acceptance capacity for crocodilians, particularly how these vary with species relative abundance. Conceptual Framework Florida is experiencing human population growth and associated land use change that is projected to continue (Zwik & Carr 2006). This development in itself does not appear to preclude alligator us e of human-altered habitats; a lligators regularly inhabit 19

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waters within residential areas, such as retention ponds and canals (personal observation). However, if residents have low acceptance capacity for alligators, they may be more likely to complain to the FW C about an alligator near their home (often resulting in the harvest of the alligator). Ultimately, this cycl e could contribute to reduced (or absent) alligator populations in many residential areas. FWCs Alligator Management Programs stated goal is to Manage Florida' s alligator population for its long-term wellbeing and the benefits of users (FWC Alli gator Management Program). At times the two components of that goal (long-term well-being of alligators and benefits to people) could seem to be at odds, as in the sc enario described above. Understanding which factors affect acceptance capacity for a lligators (and why residents might complain about an alligator) can help the FWC tailor efforts to support bot h components of the goal, such as education aimed at increasin g acceptance capacity for alligators. A basic conceptual model for alligator populat ion preference in this context is that knowledge of alligators, attitudes toward alli gators, and experience with alligators are all related to each other and to perceptions of risk from alligators, which in turn drive alligator population preferenc e (Figure 1-1). Riley and Decker (2000a) demonstrated that attitudes and perceived risks predict a cceptance capacity for potentially dangerous wildlife. Smithem & Mazzotti (2008) ext ended that finding (atti tudes predicted risk perceptions and both predicted acceptance capacity) to American crocodiles. While knowledge and experience were not signific ant predictors in their model for risk perceptions, a significant relationship with risk perception was found for both knowledge and experience (Smithem & Mazzotti 2008).The model includes two other potentially important predictors of risk perceptions and acceptance capacity for alligators: ones 20

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probability of encountering an alli gator (e.g., living or recr eating near freshwater) and ones beliefs about what constitutes a nuisance alligator (Figure 1-1). Slovic (1987) demonstrated that certain beliefs abou t a hazardthat it is involuntary, unfamiliar, not eas ily reduced, increasing, not we ll known to those exposed, or not well understood by expertslead to hi gher perceived risks from that hazard, and a greater desire for a reducti on of that risk. In addition to these factors identified by Slovic, risk perception in this context involv es the following: perceived risk to ones self, family, pets, and others in the community; ri sks while engaged in recreation in and near the water. The size alligator believed to pose a threat to people can be viewed as a measure of perceived risk from alligators (i.e., people who view very small alligators as a risk to people can be conceived to hav e higher perceived risk from alligators). Demographic factors such as age (Krester et al. 2009; Ke llert et al. 1996; Kellert 1996), gender (Zinn & Pierce 2002), and having children in the home (Zinn & Pierce 2002), have been shown to affect views about wild life (at least in some contexts), and others (such as race or education) might also have an effect. Heberlein and Ericsson (2005) demonstrated that people with a rural background have more positive attitudes toward predators and wildlife in general than multi-generati onal urbanites. Kidd and Kidd (1996) assert that childrens exposure to wild animals and their environments can shape positive attitudes toward wildlife and conservation later in life. Thus, growing up near wild alligators was also hypothesized to have an effect on risk perceptions through attitudes. This conceptual model was kept simple on purpose, to provide a framework for testing relationships between the various meas ures of attitudes, experience, beliefs, 21

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22 and behaviors toward alligators. In reality, there are likely additional interactions not shown (e.g., between attitudes and nuisance behavior beliefs). The final component of the model, complainant stat us, can be understood as the next step which could result from alligator population pref erence. This measure is pl aced after preferences because it represents a movement beyond opinion (i.e., intolerance, reduced acceptance capacity, or a preference for fewer alligator s) to action. While certainly not all people who have a preference about alligator populations will take action (i.e., file a complaint), the decision to file a complaint (to request that an alligator be removed) demonstrates a specific desire for a reduction in the number of alligators in a location (at least in one instance). Though highly simplified, this model provides a framework for testing relationships between these measures. Study Purpose The goals of this study were to descr ibe the Florida publics experience, knowledge, risk perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs about nuisance alligator behavior, and to gauge public awareness and accept ance for current FWC management practices. The project also s ought to determine if differences in measures of interest existed between different segments of Flori das population, for ex ample, between urban and rural residents or between people who had previously requested removal of a nuisance alligator and those who had not. A final goal was to determine which factors were most important in predicting perce ived risk from alligators and acceptance capacity (tolerance) for alligator s, as indicated by either r eported preference for alligator populations or by action taken to remove an alligator (i.e., an alligator complaint was made).

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Figure 1-1. Conceptual model of relati onships among experience with alligators, knowledge of alligators, attitudes about alligators, risk perceptions of alligat ors, preference for alligator population, and complaint status. Additional variables of interest include: growing up in a place wi th wild alligators, encounter probability (e.g., living or recreating near freshwater), nuisance beh avior beliefs, and demographic variables. 23

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CHAPTER 2 METHODS Survey Instrument The survey instrument was developed by Un iversity of Florida researchers in coordination with FWC alligat or management and research staff. Questions were adapted from previous, similar studies (Riley 1998; Smithem 2005; Harvey et al. 2010) but modified for relevance to a statewide st udy about alligators, or developed to address specific management concerns. The questionnaire was pilot tested ( n = 17) and refined, based on input from testing trials. The final questionnaire was a 12-page bookle t entitled Alligators in Florida: A Survey of Your Views and contained a tota l of 54 questions (Appendix E). The survey questions addressed six prim ary topics: experience with alligators, knowledge about alligators, attitudes about allig ators, risk perceptions about alligators, nuisance behavior beliefs about alligators, and preferences for alligator populations. In addition to six primary topics, respondents were also asked about where they learned information about alligators and their opinions r egarding current or proposed management scenarios. A final set of questions solicit ed demographic information regarding gender, age, ethnicity, education, income, organizati onal membership, presence of children and/or pets in the household, Florida reside ncy, and community size (both current and childhood communities). Space for additional co mments was provided at the end of the questionnaire. Sampling Design There were two target populations: (1) the general public, which included all Florida residents over the age of 18, and (2) people who had filed recent complaints 24

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25 about nuisance alligators to FWC (Figure 21). Randomly selected Florida household addresses representing the general public (n = 2600) were purchased from the marketing firm Genysys Sampling (Market ing Systems Group; Fort Washington, Pennsylvania); the sampling frame was the US Postal Services delivery sequence file. Purchased addresses were divided equally between urban and rural households. Urban households were identified as thos e within a US Census block group that contains all or part of an Urban Area or U rban Cluster (United States Census Bureau b). Rural households were identified as thos e not within a US Census block group that contains all or part of an Ur ban Area or Ur ban Cluster. The second target population was people who had a previous nuisance alligator experience. Randomly selected addre sses of previous complainants ( n = 1000) were obtained from a list of households filing comp laints with FWC in 2008 about a nuisance alligator 1.2 m ( 4 ft) long. FWC generally does not re move alligators <1.2 m (<4 ft) long, because experts believe these alligat ors do not pose a risk to people or pets. Instead, FWC sends an educational pamphlet to those complainants. People complaining about such small alligators ma y have had heightened fear s of alligators, and thus may not represent typical nuisance complainants. It is also likely those people have a negative view of the pr ocess (because the alligator they complained about likely was not removed). Because an aim of this st udy was to compare the general public to typical nuisance complainants, the decision was made to exclude records of calls about small alligators from the pool of potential nuisance experience households.

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Figure 2-1. Sampling design for a 2009 survey about Floridians views about alligators. Questionnaires were mailed to randomly selected urban and rural househo lds as well as to households selected randomly from a list of 2008 callers to the FWCs Nuisance Alligator Hotline. Urban and rural responden ts did not differ on key measures and thus were pooled as the General Public. Responses to the question, Have you ever called to request that a problem alligator be removed? were used to partition respondents into two groups : Complainants and Noncomplainants. Asterisks indicate groupings used for analyses (General Public, Complainants, and Noncomplainants). 26

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Survey Deployment In May and June 2009, a series of 4 maili ngs were sent (Dillman 2007). Mailings included an introductory postcard announcin g the upcoming questionnaire, a survey and cover letter packet, a reminder postcard, and (for non-respondents) a second copy of the survey with a separate cover lette r (Appendix A-E). Samp ling frames based on USPS records may over-represent males as the head of household, so cover letters instructed the adult in the home with the most recent birthday to complete the questionnaire to further ensur e a randomly drawn sample. Response Response Rate We received 1,175 total responses (60.3% from the general public group, 39.7% from the FWC nuisance compla inant group), (Figure 2-1). We attempted to collect a minimum of 1,300 surveys from each of tw o category types (rural and urban residents) and 1,000 from a third (nuisanc e alligator complainants), for a combined sample size not to exceed 3,600. A total of 1,198 questi onnaires was returned. Twenty-three were excluded from analysis. Eight of those were blank except for comments in the free response section, six were duplicates fr om a household that had already submitted a completed survey (in those cases, the retu rn survey received first was the one included in analysis), and nine were completed by children under the age of 18 (who were instructed not to participate in the cover letter). The response rate for urban and rural groups was 30.2% and 24.3%, respectively, for an overall general public ra te of 27.2% (Figure 2-1). T he response rate for the FWC nuisance complainant group was 46.7%. 27

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Non-Response Bias Research has demonstrated that late respondents tend to be similar to nonrespondents (Ary et al. 2006). In an effort to characterize non-response, responses by the general public to key variables were compared between early and late (those received after the second questionnaire book lets were mailed) respondents. Early responses accounted for 64.1% of the tota l and late responses accounted for 35.9%. No differences were found between early and late respondents on the following key measures: experience, attitude, personal risk, cognizance of ri sk, control of risk, active nuisance behavior beliefs, or preferences fo r alligators (in either residential or nonresidential areas). Early respondents had signi ficantly higher kno wledge scores, lower user risk perceptions, and lower passive nuisance behavior beliefs, so responses on these measures may not be able to be genera lized to the entire Florida population. To further assess non-response, general pu blic respondents were compared to the Florida public at large. Rates of respons e by demographic traits (with overall Florida data in parenthesis) were: male 57.5% (49. 2%), female 42.5% (50.8%), white, nonHispanic 82.1% (59.5%), black 3.6% (16.1%), Hispanic or Latino 8.6% (21.5%), Asian 1% (2.4%), American Indian or Alaskan nat ive 0.7% (0.5%), high school graduate 96.9% (79.9%), bachelors degree or hi gher 42.5% (22.3%), aged 65 and older 35% (17.2%), (United States Census Bureau c). Coverage Error As a result of the summer timing of the survey, our sample likely suffered from coverage error, with a disp roportionate representation of permanent rather than seasonal Florida residents. Interacti ons between people and alligators would be expected to be most common in warm months due to increased activity in alligators and 28

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increased water recreation activity by t he public, and data from FWCs Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program s upports that. Over the past five years (May 1, 2005 to April 30, 2010), 62% of nuisance alligator complaints occurred between the months of April to August (R. B. H., unpublished data). Thus, a survey designed to gauge opinions about alligators might expect better response during the time of year when interactions are more salient, even if this has the effect of excluding some residents who live in Florida seasonally. Also, residents who leave the st ate when interactions are most common might skew the data to reflect lower experience levels. Survey Content The questionnaire contained items covering the following topics: experience with alligators; sources of knowledge about alli gators; knowledge of alligator biology, behavior and how to be safe around alligators; attitudes toward alligators; size estimates about which alligators pose a risk to people and pets; risk perceptions about alligators; preferences fo r alligator populations; knowledge and acceptance of FWC management scenarios, nuisance behavior be liefs about alligators, demographic questions, and an open response section. Key focus areas are described below. Experience with Alligators A series of nine statement s described different experiences with alligators that ranged from first-hand, active interactions Have personally had a frightening encounter with an alligator to second-hand, passive st ories [Someone in my household] Read or heard about livestock being injured or killed by an alligator (Appendix E, question 1). There were two check boxes for each of the nine statements: one box indicated that the respondent had personally experienced the intera ction described in the statement, while the other box indicated that someone in their household had had such an experience. 29

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Respondents could check both, one, or none of the boxes. Each respondent was assigned to one of the following five ex perience levels bas ed on their reported interactions with alligators (adapted from Riley & Decker 2000a; Harvey et al. 2010): Very high: Respondents or members of t heir household had personally had a frightening encounter with an alligator. High: Respondents or members of thei r household knew a friend or neighbor who had a frightening encounter with an alligator or had a pet or livestock injured or killed by an alligator. Moderat e: Respondents had read or heard of other people being injured or killed by an alligator. Low: Respondents had read or heard of an alligator being killed by authorities or read or heard about pets or livestock being injured or killed by an alligator. Very low: Respondents reported none of the above experiences. The variable experience was treated as a five level categorical variable for reporting descriptive statistics. For simplicity, for bivariate analyses and for prediction of complaint status and alligator population preferences, experience levels were combined into two categories: 1) very low to moder ate and 2) high to very high (Harvey et al. 2010). Sources of Information about Alligators Respondents were also asked how much they had learned about alligators from seven different information sources (the in ternet, books, TV nature shows, newspapers or TV news shows, school/classroom, personal outdoor experiences, and interpreters at zoos, nature centers or eco-tours). On a 5 poi nt scale ranging from almost nothing (1) to almost everything (5), respondents we re asked to rank the amount of their knowledge about alligators that came from each information source. 30

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31 Knowledge about Alligators Knowledge about alligators was based on 10 questions (6 multiple choice and 4 true/false questions) that addressed alligator habitat, distribution, behavior, status, and objective questions about risks posed to peopl e (Appendix E, questions 3 8 and 11 14). Questions were designed to provide a mixture of easy, medium, and difficult questions. One point was awarded for each correct answer, and respondents were assigned a cumulative knowledge score rangi ng from 0 to 9 (no respondents answered all questions correctly). For analysis, onl y respondents who attempted 5 or more knowledge questions ( n = 1150) were considered. The variable knowledge was treated as a continuous numeric variable. One question (3, Typically, American alligators are found in) received a high proportion of multiple answers. Because there were two answers that were potentially correct for that question, the dec ision was made to consider t hat question correct if the respondent chose either the intended correct answer (Freshwater streams, lakes, and marshes) or both that answer and the alte rnate correct answer (Brackish coastal waters). Attitudes about Alligators Ten items (most adapted from Riley) were used to gauge attitudes about alligators (Riley 1998). Question 15 (Appendix E) consis ted of 9 statements about alligators value, presence in residential or non-resident ial areas, an ability to view alligators with answer choices on a 5 point scale ranging fr om disagree strongly (1) to agree strongly (5), (Table 2-1). Question 17 (A ppendix E) dealt with overall attitude toward alligators with answer choices on a 5 point scale ranging from v ery negative (1) to very positive (5).

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Table 2-1. Questions addressing attitudes towa rd alligators in a 2009 Florida survey Number Question Component 15-1 The presence of alligators in wetlands in natural areas is a sign of a healthy environment Attitude 15-2 The presence of alligators in wetlands in residential areas is a sign of a healthy environment Attitude 15-3 The presence of alligators in Flori da increases my overall quality of life Attitude 15-4 I believe that alligators have value Attitude 15-5 Alligators could benefit the local economy by being a tourist attraction Attitude 15-6 People who live on the water choose to acc ept some level of risk from alligators Attitude 15-7 I enjoy viewing alligators in natural areas Attitude 15-8 It is important to me that alligator s live in natural areas in Florida Attitude 15-9 It is important to me to be able to see large alligators in natural areas Attitude 17 My overall attitude toward alligators is: Attitude Response choices ranged from Disagree str ongly (1) to Agree strongly (5) for all parts of question 15 and from Very negative (1) to Very positive (5) for question 17. Principal component analysis was employed to reduce the number of variables and all loaded onto a single co mponent, the mean of which was used to compute the variable attitude. 32

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Principal components analysis revealed one principal component (Table 2-1). Reliability analysis indicat ed that these 10 items provided a reliable variable ( =0.898). A more thorough discussion of reliability analysi s follows in the Data Analysis section. The mean of a respondents score on these 10 items was used to determine their score for the variable attitude, which was treated as a continuous variable. A higher score for the variable indicated more positive atti tudes while a lower score equated to more negative attitudes toward alligators. Size Estimates about Alligators Three questions gauged respondents esti mates of the sizes of potentially dangerous alligators. Question 18 asked re spondents at what size they considered alligators to be large (Appendix E). Questions 19 and 20 asked respondents the smallest sized alligator they believed posed a risk of serious injury to either people or pets, respectively (Appendix E). Risk Perceptions about Alligators Two questions (each with 4 sub-parts) a sked respondents to gauge the level of risk they believe exists to themselves, thei r family, their pets, their community, and the level of risk they believe exists when engaged in various water related recreational activities (Appendix E, question 21-22), (Tab le 2-2). Response choices ranged from no or almost no risk (1) to great risk (5 ). A dont know or not applicable option was provided for each. Risk perception items we re adapted from previous research (Riley 1998). Rileys scale included only one question about personal risk, which our study broke down into four measures to assess differences in per ceived risk to self, family, pets, and others in the community. Formatt ing this item as a separate question 33

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Table 2-2. Questions addressing risk percepti ons about alligators in a 2009 Florida survey Number Question Component 21-1 To what extent do you believe that alligators pose a risk to: You personally Personal 21-2 Your family members Personal 21-3 Your pets Personal 21-4 Others in your community Personal 22-1 Please indicate the level of risk from alligators you believe exists when: Swimming in designated swimming areas User 22-2 Swimming outside of designated swimming areas User 22-3 Canoeing or kayaking User 22-4 Boating (other than in a canoe or kayak) User 23 How much control do you think you have to minimize risks to yourself from alligators? Control 24 How easy or difficult would it be for you to minimize your risk from alligators? Control 25 Over the next five years, do y ou expect risks from alligators to decrease or increase? Personal 26 Do you think you have much choice over accepting any risks from al ligators? Control 27 Are risks from alligators a new kind of risk for you, or one thats old and familiar ? Cognizance 28 Do you think you would be aware if you were in a situation that put you at risk from alligators? Cognizance 29 Do you think you could learn to live with risk from alligators or would constantly worry about it? Cognizance 30 Are the risks from alligators well understood or not well understood by experts? Cognizance Response choices ranged from No or almost no risk (1) to Great ri sk (5) for all parts of questions 21-22, with a Dont know / not applicable option. Questions 23-30 were on a 1 5 scale with adjec tive endpoints, and a Dont know option. Question 23-30 were re-coded as necessary for analyses so that for all, a 5 (highest perceived risk) equated to least control, most difficulty, increase, least choice, newest, least awareness, constant worry, and least understanding. Questions were shortened slightly for th is table. Principal component analysis wa s employed to reduce the number of variables, and questions loaded 4 components (personal, user, control, and cogni zance), the means of each were used to compute variables of the same names. 34

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(Appendix E, question 21) made the survey more visually appealing. A question was also included about risks perceived during water recreation such as swimming and boating (Appendix E, question 22). Eight more questions related to risk perception (Appendix E, questions 23-30) were asked on a 5 point semantic different ial scale with adjective endpoints (Alreck & Settle 1995). Responses were re-coded for analysis as necessary so that for all questions, a higher numeric value response corresponded to a higher perceived risk. The 16 total items were examined using principal component analysis in an attempt to reduce the number of variables Four primary components emerged which were described as: Personal Risk, consis ting of questions 21 and 25; User Risk, consisting of question 22; Control of Risk, consisting of questions 23, 24 and 26; and Cognizance of Risk, consisting of questions 27 through 30 (Table 2-2). Reliability analysis was employed, and the components all formed reliable variables: Means of the values making up each component were used to compute 4 variables, which were treated as continuous: Personal Risk ( = 0.872), User Risk ( = 0.777), Control of Risk ( = 0.658), and Cognizance of Risk ( = 0.663). Opinions about Alligato r Management Strategies Five questions gauged respondents opinions about FWC management strategies currently in use. Management on AMUs A short paragraph described FWCs goal of maintaining alligator populations on specific waters where alligator hunti ng is permitted [Alligator Management Units (AMUs)] within 25% of the estimated populati on level before regulated alligator hunting 35

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began. Two following questions asking respondents to rate their awareness of (question 32) and agreement with (question 33) this strategy on a scale from 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being not at all aware or disagree strongly, respecti vely and 5 being completely aware or agree strongly, respectively (Appendix E). A third question (34) asked respondents who thought the outlined approa ch should change to choose among 5 proposed alternatives (Appendix E). Question 32 and 33 were each reduced into fewer response categories to simplify bivariate analyses. For question 32, neutral responses were treated as missing values and remaining responses were combined into tw o categories: 1) unaware and 2) aware. For question 33, neutral responses were treated as missing values and remaining responses were combined into two ca tegories: 1) disagree and 2) agree. Nuisance alligator management A short paragraph describing FWCs cu rrent procedure for handling nuisance alligators 1.2 m. (4 ft.) or larger in total length prec eded one question (35) with 5 subparts (Appendix E). Respondents were asked to rate their agreement with 5 statements about the appropriateness of aspects of t he procedure on 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being disagree strongly, and 5 being agree strongly (Appendix E). Question 35 was reduced into fewer response categories to simplify bivariate analyses. Neutral responses were treated as missing values and remaining responses were combined into two categories: 1) disagree and 2) agree. Small nuisance alligator management A short paragraph describing FWCs current procedure for handling small [< 1.2 m. (<4 ft.) in total length] nuisance alli gators preceded one question (36) with 6 subparts (Appendix E). Respondents were asked to rate their agreement with 6 statements 36

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37 about the appropriateness of current or propos ed aspects of the procedure on 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being disagree strongly, and 5 being agree strongly (Appendix E). Question 36 was reduced into fewer response categories to simplify bivariate analyses. Neutral responses were treated as missing values and remaining responses were combined into two categories: 1) disagree and 2) agree. Beliefs about Nuisance Alligator Behaviors One question with 10 sub-parts was used to gauge respondents attitudes about what makes an alligator a nuisance (Harve y et al. 2010). Respondents were asked to rate their agreement that statements descr ibed a nuisance situation on a scale from disagree strongly (1) to agr ee strongly (5). Measures included alligators in view of people and alligators exhibiting various behavi ors such as basking, hissing, or biting people or pets (Appendix E, question 37). T he statement alligators are never a nuisance was reverse coded for analysis so that it matched the others in terms of higher tolerance of alligator behavior being the lowest value on the scale (1) and least tolerance of alligator behavior being t he highest value on the scale (5). A principal components analysis was condu cted, and the each of the 10 items loaded onto one of two components. The firs t component indicated that the described alligator was engaged in some active nuis ance behavior (4 scenarios: alligator has bitten a person or pet, alligator has been fed, and alligators are never a nuisance). The second component indicated the described alligators mere presence was perceived as a passive nuisance behavior (6 scenarios: alli gator in view of people, person perceives alligator as threat, alligator basking, alligator approached by people, and alligator interfering with fishing). Reliability analysis s howed that both formed reliable variables:

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Table 2-3. Questions addressing beliefs about what constitutes nuisance alligato r behavior in a 2009 Florida survey Number Question Component 37-1 When any alligator is in view of people Passive 37-2 When a large alligator is in view of people Passive 37-3 When a person perceives an alligator as a threat Passive 37-4 When an alligator is lying on land at the waters edge Passive 37-5 When an alligator has been approached and hissed or snapped at that person Passive 37-6 When an alligator is known to have been fed by people Active 37-7 When an alligator is interfering with a person fishing Passive 37-8 When an alligator has bitten a person Active 37-9 When an alligator has bitten a pet Active 37-10 Alligators are never a nuisance Active Response choices ranged from Disagree str ongly (1) to Agree strongl y (5) for all parts of question 37. Sub-part 37-10 was re-coded for analyses to match the other questions (i.e., a 5 equated to strongest agreement that the behavior was a nuisance [least tolerance for behavior]). Principal component analysis was employed to reduce the number of variables and all loaded onto 2 components (active and passive), the means of which were used to compute variables of the same names. 38

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Active Nuisance ( = 0.739) and Passive Nuisance ( = 0.884). The mean of a respondents score on each of the 4 or 6 item s was used to determine their score for the variables Active Nuisance or Passive Nuis ance, respectively. Both were treated as continuous variables. Demographics Demographic questions were posed at the end of the survey to minimize nonresponse (Dillman 2007). The following variabl es were collected: type (seasonal or permanent) of Florida residency, length of Florida residency (for permanent residents only), sex, age, ethnicity, education, having ch ildren that live in or regularly visit the home, having pets that spend time outside the home, retirement status, organizational membership, and income. Questions to gauge the respondents past or present opportunity for contact with alligators were al so included: community size (both current and childhood communities), growing up in a place with alligators, and recreation near fresh water. Free Responses The final page of the questi onnaire provided space for respondents to share additional thoughts about alligators or a lligator management (A ppendix E). Responses were coded by the principal in vestigator as eit her positive, neut ral, negative, or unknown. Responses were coded as positive if they reflected positive feedback about alligators, alligator conserva tion, or the FWC. They were coded as negative if they reflected negative feedback about these topics. They were coded as neutral if they did not address any of those topics. If the intent of the comment could not be discerned, it was labeled as unknown and was not included in the summary results. 39

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Data Analysis All statistical analyses were performed using PASW Statistics 18 (SPSS, Inc. 2009), except for Wilcoxon rank sum tests for differences in mean cognizance of risk and control of risk variables between nuisance alligator complainants and noncomplainants, which were analyzed using program R (R Development Core Team 2010). Descriptive Analyses Descriptive statistics are provided for ques tion sets pertaining to each of the six primary topics, as well as for questions regarding current and proposed management strategies, information sources, size estimates, and demographics. Because no differences were found between urban and rural respondents on the following key measures: knowledge (t = 0.45, p = 0.655), attitude (t = 0.53, p = 0.598), personal risk perception (t = 1.28, p = 0.200), preference for alligator populations in residential areas (t = 0.20, p = 0.906), and passive nuisance behavior belief (t = 1.29, p = 0.197), data for urban and rural respondent s were pooled and are reported as the general public. There was a significant difference between experience levels between urban and rural residents ( =11.42, p = 0.22), but experience is of interest primarily for its potential effect on risk perception and ulti mately preference for alligator populations (Figure 1-1), and urban and rural resident s did not differ on those measures. Some (9.7%, n = 67) of the gener al public group reported that they had previously called to request a nuisance alli gator be removed. Also, a few (4.3%, n = 20) of the FWC nuisance complainan t group reported that they had not previously called to request a nuisance alligator be remov ed. This could be because the intended recipient had moved or the survey packe t was delivered to the wrong address, or 40

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because the member of the household who completed the questionnaire was not aware of or involved in the previous nuisance alligat or complaint. Because of this overlap, the decision was made to use the self-reported measure of complaint status (i.e., the answer to the question, Have you ever called to request that a problem alligator be removed?) as the basis for assigning a respo ndent to either the c omplainant or noncomplainant gr oup (Figure 2-1). Descriptive statistics for the general public and separately for nuisance complainants and non-complainants are provided for questions dealing with experience with alligators, sources of information about a lligators, knowledge of alligators, attitude toward alligators, beliefs about nuisance alligator behavior, perceptions about risks from alligators, preferences for alligator populations in residenti al and non-residential areas, and awareness and acceptance of management strategies. In addition to the descriptive statistics above, bivariate analyses were conducted to understand differences in the general public sa mple on key scaled variables of interest based on the following independent variables: sex, age, race, children living in the home, education, income, pets outside, resi dency on the water, and water recreation. Because the majority of general public respondents (87.4%) who gave their race identified themselves as non-Hispanic Caucasians, other racial groups were combined into a single group for comparison with non-Hispanic Caucasians Length of Florida residency did not have a normal distribution, so a new variable was created with the square root of reported values for use in analyses. Researc hers hypothesized that people who do not have children living in their households but do have children regularly visiting them (e.g., grandparents) mi ght have different opinions about alligators 41

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than people who have no children and no children re gularly visit. Therefore, a variable was created that captured responses to both questions 49 and 50 (Appendix E), children living in or visiting the home, and it was included in bivariate analyses. Length of residency was used because most resp ondents (97.3%) were permanent Florida residents, and researchers hypothesized that residents who had lived in Florida longer may have different views about alligators t han more recent arrivals because many people move to the state later in life. To better understand responses for management purposes, some additional questions of interest were also summarized by gender or by group membership for the general public. Principal component analysis (PCA) is a us eful when dealing wit h data sets with a large number of interrelated variables (Jolliffe 2002). The method seeks to reduce a large number of variables to a smaller number of variables, principal components, while still retaining as much of the original variat ion as possible (Jolliffe 2002). Correlations of individual items with the under lying principal component ar e called loadings. When more than one primary component is detected, rotating the data can help achieve a clearer pattern of the u nderlying components. Data were rotated with an Oblimin rotation. An oblique rotation, such as Oblimin, allows correlation in resulting components, and thus is suitabl e for data that are expected to be correlated (e.g., beliefs about alligators), as opposed to data that may not be expected to be correlated (e.g., home prices and crime ra tes) (Costello & Osborne 2005). PCA was used for the measures of atti tude, nuisance behavior beliefs, and risk perception to reduce the number of questions to a more manageable set of variables. For all variables formed using PCA, the mean of the individual items that loaded onto a 42

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component were used to form the composite va riable. Loadings of individual items were used to weight values to calculate t he loaded mean of each measure. That loaded mean was then compared to the unloaded mean. In all cases, the two were greater than 95% correlated. For simplicity, only the unloaded means were used for analysis and only those are reported here. Reliability analysis was performed on each of these composite variables to ensure that the variable was a consistent measure of the given construct. Reliability analysis tests whether items t hat purport to measure the same c oncept really do, by computing Cronbachs alpha ( ), a measure of the interco rrelation among test items. Bivariate analyses are given for personal risk perception, except for water recreation, which was tested against user risk perception instead. The personal risk perception component was chosen for most analyses because it seemed to be the most direct measure of perceived risk against which to test associations with other variables. Because passive nuisance behavior beliefs are more interesting (because most people can reasonably consider an alligator that has bitten a person or pet a nuisance, but considering an alligator lying on the bank a nuisance is different), the passive component was chosen for bivariate anal yses for the general public group. Predictive Analyses Predictive analyses were conducted to ascertain the individual contributions of variables hypothesized to be affect pers onal risk perception, residential alligator population preferences, and whether a person had complained about an alligator. Personal risk perception Personal risk perception was treated as the dependent variable in a multiple regression model that included the following independent variables: experience (all 43

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categories), knowledge, atti tude, passive nuisance behavio r beliefs, whether the person lives on the water, the smallest sized alli gator the person considers a risk to people, whether children live in or regularly visit the home, whether the person has outside pets, whether the person grew up in a place with wild alligators, whethe r the person recreates near freshwater in Florida, age, gender, educ ation, and race. All respondents (both general public and FWC nuisance complainant target samples) were included in predictive analyses (Figure 2-1). Non-response analyses indicated that t he sample may not accurately represent the Florida public with respect to age, gende r, education, and race. Because each of those measures were significantly associated with some or all key variables (experience, knowledge, attitude, personal risk perception, passive nuisance behavior beliefs, preferences for residential alligator populations, and complaint status), those demographic measures were included in predictive models in order to assess the net effect of other included variables. In addition to the key variables (exper ience, knowledge, attitude, passive nuisance behavior beliefs), some other vari ables were included because they were hypothesized to affect personal risk percepti on. For example, a belief that a smaller sized alligator posed a risk to people was expec ted to predict higher perceived personal risk from alligators. Ones potential for contac t with alligators (e.g., living or recreating near freshwater) was also expected to affe ct perceived personal risk. The personal risk perception component also included ques tions about perceived risks to family members and pet, so having children who fr equent the home or pets that spend time outside were also hypothesized to predict higher personal risk perception. Lastly, 44

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growing up near wild alligators was hypothesized to predict lower personal risk perception from alligators (via attitudes ), since area where one grew up has been shown to affect attitudes toward wildlife (Heberlein & Ericsson 2005). Stepwise regression ( p < 0.05 entry, p > 0.10 removal) was then conducted to identify the most appropriate set of predictors. Alligator populations in residential areas The respondents preferences for alligat or populations in residential areas was treated as the dependent variable in a binary l ogistic regression model that, consistent with the conceptual model (Figure 1-1), included the independent variables from the above model for personal risk perception [ex perience (2 categories), knowledge, attitude, passive nuisance behavior beliefs, w hether the person lives on the water, the smallest sized alligator the person considers a risk to people, whether children live in or regularly visit the home, whet her the person has outside pets, whether the person grew up in a place with wild alligat ors, whether the person recr eates near freshwater in Florida, age, gender, education, race] and also included personal risk perception. All respondents (both general public and FWC nuisanc e complainant target samples) were included in predictive a nalyses (Figure 2-1). In addition to the key variables (exper ience, knowledge, attitude, passive nuisance behavior beliefs, personal risk perception), other included variables were hypothesized to affect a persons preferences for residential alligator populations. The smallest sized alligator one considers a risk to people was hypothesized to predict preferences for alligator populations in residential areas because residents who complain about larger alligators often to lerate smaller alligators near their homes (personal observation). Thus people who feel that even small alligators pose a risk 45

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would be expected to believe there are too many alligators in residential areas. As explained above, demographic measures of age, gender, education, and race were included in order to assess the net effect of other included variables. Living and recreating near water and presence of ch ildren and pets were expected to affect preference via risk perception, and growing up near alligators via attitudes (Figure 1-1). Ordinal regression with a complementary l og-log function was first attempted for this prediction, but it did not provide a good fit. It did not meet the te st of parallel lines, indicating that the assumption that a single set of parameters is appropriate for all categories was violated (Chan 20 05). Multinomial regression was then attempted. The resultant model did a poor j ob of predicting the percent age of respondents who thought there were not enough alligator s in residential areas, correctly predicting that choice 0.0% of the time. Most respondents answered eith er that there were the right amount or too many alligators in residential areas; only 2.6% ( n = 30) thought there were not enough. Also, the categories of right amo unt and too many are more interesting from management and theor etical perspectives, because t hose are relevant to requests for nuisance alligator removal (or lack ther eof). Therefore, I decided to conduct the analysis as a binary logistic regression with those who responded not enough treated as missing cases. Backwards stepwise elimination was used with removal testing based on the probability of the Wald statistic. Hosmer and Lemeshow goodness-of-f it test was used to assess model fit. 46

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Complainant status Complainant status (whet her the person responded they had ever requested that an alligator be removed) was treated as the dependent variable in a binary logistic regression model that, consis tent with the conceptual model (Figure 1-1), included the independent variables from the above m odel for residential alligator population preferences [experience (2 categories), k nowledge, attitude, personal risk perception, passive nuisance behavior beliefs, whether t he person lives on the wa ter, the smallest sized alligator the person cons iders a risk to people, whether children live in or regularly visit the home, whether the person has outsi de pets, whether the person grew up in a place with wild alligators, whether the person recreates near freshwater in Florida, age, gender, education, race] and also included re sidential alligator popul ation preferences. All respondents (both general public and FWC nuisance comp lainant target samples) were included in predictive analyses (Figure 2-1). In addition to the key variables (exper ience, knowledge, attitude, passive nuisance behavior beliefs, personal risk percept ion, and residential alligator population preferences), other variables were included t hat were hypothesized to affect whether a person had made a complaint about an alligator Living or recreating near freshwater was expected to predict a higher likelihood of having made a complaint via risk perception (Figure 1-1), becaus e of an increased potential fo r contact with alligators. A belief that a smaller sized alligator posed a risk to people was also expected to predict a higher likelihood of having made a complaint via risk perception. Having children who frequent the home or pets that spend time outside were hypothesized to predict higher likelihood of having made a complaint becaus e young children and pets are likely less aware of danger from alligator s, and residents may be more likely to request removal of 47

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48 an alligator out of a desire to protect childre n and pets, again this relationship is via risk perception (Figure 1-1). Growing up near alligators was expected to have an affect via attitudes. As explained above, demographic measures of age, gender, education, and race were included in order to assess t he net effect of other included variables. Backwards stepwise elimination was used with removal testing based on the probability of the Wald statistic. Hosmer and Lemeshow goodness-of-f it test was used to assess model fit. In this test, the population is partitioned and observed and expected outcome rates are compared between groups. A lack of significant difference between observed and expected outcome probabi lities indicates a good fitting model (Agresti 2002).

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CHAPTER 3 RESULTS General Public Respondent Characteristics The majority (97.3%) of general public respondents identified themselves as permanent residents who had lived in Florida an average of 28.2 years (standard deviation [SD] = 18.6). The sample was 57.5% male and 42.5% female. The average age was 55.9 years (SD = 15.4) and ages ranged from 18 to 98. Most respondents (60.7%) were not retired. Most respondents (87.4%) self-identified as Caucasian, non-Hispanic. All other categories accounted for less than 10% of respondents. About one fifth of respondents (22.3%) had a high school diploma or less, 35 .3% had some college or a 2 year degree, 24.2% had completed 4 year degrees, and 18.3% had attended graduate or professional schools. Nearly one-third (31.6%) of respondents had household incomes of $40,000 or less, 34.6% had income s between $40,001 and $80,000, 20.3% had incomes between $80,001 and $120,000, 13.5% had incomes over $120,001. Fifteen percent (n = 107) of respondents declined to answer the income question. Relatively few (12.2%) indicated that t hey were members of an environmental or conservation organization, while 64.2% were members of other types of organizations. Almost a third (32.5%) responded that they grew up in an ar ea with wild alligators. Many respondents (43.1%) indicated that they live on or beside a Florida la ke, river, pond, or other wetland. Thirty percent (30.4%) report ed having children living in their household (range = 1 5). Most responde nts (59.6%) reported that children under the age of 18 either live in or regularly visit their home. Over two-thirds (69.6%) indicated that they 49

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recreate near fresh water in Florida. About half (49.7%) of the re spondents reported that they have pets that spend time outside. When asked about the community where they live in Florida, 15.2% categorized it as rural, 31.7% indicated small town, 28.8% indicated suburban, and 24.3% indicated an urban area. When questioned w here they grew up, the results were similar: 16.6% rural, 28.7% small town, 27.4% suburban, and 27.4% urban. Differences between Complainants and Non-complainants No significant difference was found between nuisance complainants and noncomplainants in the variables of: permanent Florida residency ( = 0.03, p = 0.868), length of Florida residency (t = 1.66, p = 0.096), age (t = 1.25, p = 0.211), retirement status ( = 1.71, p = 0.192), membership in env ironmental or conservation organizations ( = 0.25, p = 0.617), or membership in other organizations ( = 1.44, p = 0.230), (Table 3-1). Community (rural, sma ll town/small city, suburban, urban) where the respondent grew up ( = 6.12, p = 0.106) and presence of wild alligators in the place where the respondent grew up ( = 0.04, p = 0.838) were also not significantly different between complainants and non-complainants (Table 3-2). Differences were found with respect to so me other measures. Women were more likely than men to report having complained about an alligator ( = 9.93, p = 0.002), (Table 3-1). Non-Hispanic Caucasians were more likely than other races to have complained ( = 11.62, p = 0.001). Education had an effect on whether a respondent had complained, but the relationship was not linear: those with a high school GED or less education were less likely than expect ed to have complained, those with some college more likely, those with AA/AS or BA/BS less likely, and those with a graduate or professional degree more likely than expected ( = 13.27, p = 0.021). 50

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Table 3-1. Mean values or percentages of respondents by demogr aphic categories in a 2009 Florida survey who reported they either had (comp.) or had not (noncomp.) ever requested that a problem alligator be removed Variable Comp. Non-comp. or t p Mean age 56.8 55.7 t = 1.25 0.211 Mean years of perm. Florida re sidency 29.9 28.1 t = 1.66 0.096 % Permanent Florida residents 43.3 54.2 = 0.03 0.868 % Seasonal Florida residents 1.1 1.4 % Male 21.5 32.3 = 9.93 0.002 % Female 22.8 23.4 % Non-Hispanic Caucasian 40.0 46.2 = 11.62 0.001 % Other Races 4.4 9.4 % High school GED or less education 7.2 13.0 = 13.27 0.021 % Some college education 12.3 12.9 % Associate's or bachelor's degree 14.4 19.3 % Graduate or professional degree 10.6 10.3 % Income of $60,000 or less 14.7 30.3 = 52.23 < 0.001 % Income of $60,001 to $80,000 7.0 7.0 % Income of $80,001 to $100,000 4.9 7.4 % Income of $100,001 or more 16.5 12.4 % Children living in home 15.6 17.2 = 2.66 0.103 % No children living in home 28.4 38.7 % Children live in or visit home 33.3 32.8 = 29.34 < 0.001 % No children live in or visit home 11.2 22.7 % Pets outside 30.0 27.7 = 35.42 < 0.001 % No pets outside 14.4 27.9 % Retired 19.1 21.7 = 1.71 0.192 % Not retired 25.3 33.8 % Members of envir. / c onserv. org. 6.1 7.0 = 0.25 0.617 % Non-memb. of envir. / conserv. org. 38.3 48.6 % Members of other org. 29.8 35.5 = 1.44 0.230 % Non-members of other org. 14.5 20.1 Income also had a significant, but non linear relationship on likelihood of complaining about alligators. Those reporting incomes of $60,000 or less were less likely than expected to have complained, whereas those with incomes over $100,001 were more likely to have complained (Table 3-1). Those with incomes in the $60,001 to $80,000 range were more likely to have complained, while those in the $80,001 to $100,000 range were less likely to have complained ( = 52.23, p < 0.001). When 51

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incomes groups were combined into four ca tegories of $40,000 incr ements, those below $80,000 were less likely than expected to have complained and those over $80,001 were more likely than expe cted to have complained ( = 39.24, p < 0.001). Table 3-2. Percentages of respondents by response category to questions related to potential alligator exposure in a 2009 Flor ida survey who reported they either had (comp.) or had not (non-comp.) ever requested that a problem alligator be removed Variable Comp. Non-comp. p % Grew up in area with wild alligators 14.8 18.2 = 0.04 0.838 % Did not grow up in area with alligators 29.6 37.4 % Grew up in rural area 8.3 9.4 = 6.12 0.106 % Grew up in small town / small city 14.4 15.8 % Grew up in suburban area 11.5 14.7 % Grew up in urban area 10.0 15.9 % Live in rural area 9.0 8.5 = 18.26 < 0.001 % Live in small town / small city 13.9 16.8 % Live in suburban area 14.6 16.4 % Live in urban area 6.8 14.0 % Live near freshwater 41.7 22.7 = 307.88 < 0.001 % Do not live near freshwater 3.5 32.0 % Recreate near freshwater 36.0 38.7 = 24.40 < 0.001 % Do not recreate near freshwater 7.9 17.4 Not surprisingly, respondents who live near fr eshwater were more likely to have complained than those who do not ( = 307.88, p < 0.001), (Table 3-2). Respondents with children living in the home were no more likely to have complained ( = 2.66, p = 0.103), but those with children ei ther living in or regularly visiting the home were more likely to have complained ( = 29.34, p < 0.001). Those with pets outside were also more likely to have complained ( = 35.42, p < 0.001). Whereas area where respondent grew up was not significantly associated with complaint status ( = 6.12, p < 0.106), area where they currently live wa s associated with complaint status; urban residents were less likely than expected to hav e complained and the rest of the groups 52

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(rural, small town, suburban) were more likely ( = 18.26, p < 0.001). People who recreate near water were more likely to have complained than those who do not recreate near freshwater ( = 24.40, p < 0.001). Descriptive Analyses Experience with Alligators Most general public respondents (58.9%) ha d a moderate level of experience with alligators, but 15.2% had a very high leve l (Figure 3-1). Most respondents (84.5%) reported that they had observ ed an alligator in the wild. For the general public group, no diffe rence was found between experience categories by gender ( = 0.36, p = 0.550), children living in the home ( = 2.44, p = 0.118), pets outside ( = 2.50, p = 0.114), education ( = 3.96, p = 0.555), mean age (t = 1.42, p = 0.155) income ( = 8.43, p = 0.296), or race ( = 0.02, p = 0.901). 0.0 10.0 20.0 30.0 40.0 50.0 60.0 70.0 Very lowLowModerateHighVery highPercent of respondentsExperience category Complainants Non complainants General Public Figure 3-1. Experience levels with alligator s in Florida for the general public, nuisance alligator complainants, and non-complainants in 2009 53

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Differences were found with respect to other measures; those with children either living in or visiting the home had higher le vels of experience than those without ( = 8.95, p = 0.003). People who live on the water had greater experience with alligators ( = 16.08, p < 0.001), as did people who recreate near freshwater ( = 8.01, p = 0.005). Those with high to very high experience levels had a lived in Florida longer than those with low to moderate expe rience levels (t = 2.79, p = 0.006). Table 3-3. Mean values or percentages of respondents who reported they either had (comp.) or had not (non-comp.) ever requested that a problem alligator be removed by response category to questions related to experience with, knowledge of, attitudes about, and perceiv ed risk from alligators in a 2009 Florida survey Variable Comp. Noncomp. t, or W p % "Very low to moderate" experience 19.1 41.2 = 111.52 < 0.001 % "High to very high" experience 25.2 14.5 Mean knowledge score 5.97 5.55 t = 4.77 < 0.001 % Think alligator info. available 33.1 40.9 = 1.55 0.46 % Think alligator info. not available 4.9 5.6 % "Almost everything" from personal exp. 7.7 6.1 = 91.18 < 0.001 % "Almost everything" from news 2.0 4.2 = 13.60 0.009 % "Almost nothing" from other sources 15.7 31.9 = 41.07 < 0.001 Mean attitude score 3.44 3.76 t = 7.17 < 0.001 Mean size "large" 2.00 m 2.07 m t = 1.83 0.068 Mean size risk to people 1.26 m 1.24 m t = 0.56 0.578 Mean size risk to pets 1.05 m 1.03 m t = 0.78 0.436 Mean personal risk perception score 3.08 2.31 t = 14.33 < 0.001 Mean user risk perception score 2.84 2.59 t = 5.56 < 0.001 Mean cognizance of risk score 2.34 2.12 W = 182999 < 0.001 Mean control of risk score 2.36 2.01 W = 185338 < 0.001 % "Right amount" in residential areas 12.1 24.2 =67.78 < 0.001 % "Too many" in residential areas 36.2 23.7 % "Right amount" in non-residential areas 27.0 35.3 =31.83 < 0.001 % "Too many" in non-residential areas 16.3 11.5 Mean Active nuisance score 4.57 4.20 t = 10.46 < 0.001 Mean Passive nuisance score 3.20 2.68 t = 9.19 < 0.001 54

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When responses were partitioned by comp laint status, non-complainants were more likely to report having moderate leve ls of experience with alligators, while complainants were more likely to r eport having high levels of experience ( = 132.76, p < 0.001), (Table 3-3). When experience levels were combined into two categories (very low to moderate and high to very high), complainants were more likely than noncomplainants to have high to very high levels of experienc e with alligators ( = 111.52, p < 0.001). Sources of Information about Alligators Of the general public, 73.1% of respondent s thought that information about alligators was readily available to them. There was no difference between complainants and non-complainants in perceived information availability ( = 1.55, p = 0.460). The most important sources of informati on about alligators fo r the general public were TV nature shows and the news. Over half (57.1%) responded that they have learned either much or alm ost everything they know about alligators from nature shows on television. Over forty percent (41.7%) stated that they have learned some of what they know from TV news or newspaper s. Other sources were less important, in particular the internet and school. Half (49. 7%) of the general public responded that they have learned almost nothing about alli gators from the internet, and 39.3% had learned almost nothing about alligator s in the classroom (Figure 3-2). General public information sources were also compared by gender. Females were more likely to gain information from books ( = 13.63, p = 0.009), TV nature shows ( x = 13.804, p = 0.008), or outdoor experience ( = 13.34, p = 0.010), while males were more likely to cite news as a source ( = 14.31, p = 0.006). 55

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0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Percent of respondentsInformation source Almost everything Much Some Little Almost nothing Figure 3-2. Amount the Florida public r eported they had learned about alligators by information source in 2009 When information sources were compared by complainant status, the sources that differed between groups were personal out door experience, newspapers or TV news shows, and other sources. Nuisance alligator complainants were more likely to cite personal outdoor experience to have taught them much or almost everything, ( = 91.18, p < 0.001), (Table 3-3). News differ ed as a source for each group; noncomplainants were more likely to get a moderate amount (some or much) of their information from the news, but complainants were more likely to respond that they gained almost nothing, li ttle, or almost everything from the news ( = 13.60, p = 0.009). Non-complainants were much more likely to attribute almost nothing learned to other sources ( = 41.07, p < 0.001). In the free response section, complainants often cited nuisance alligator trappe r as an information source. 56

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Knowledge of Alligators Knowledge scores ranged from 0 to 9 correct answers (out of a possible 10); no respondents answered all knowledge questions correctly. General public knowledge sco res ranged from 1 to 9, wit h a mean of 5.5 (SD=1.5). For the general public, knowledge levels were not associated with length of residency (F = 1.97 p = 0.161), children living in the home (t = 1.46, p = 0.145), children living in or visiting the home (t = 1.65, p = 0.099), education (F = 0.168, p = 0.995), or income (F = 1.02, p = 0.421). There was a significant but small negative relationship between age and knowledge score (F = 9.72, p = 0.002, R = 0.013). Peop le with pets outside had a 0.6 higher mean knowledge score than peopl e without outside pets (t = 4.79, p < 0.001). Males had a 0.3 higher mean knowled ge scores than females (t = 2.63, p = 0.009). People who live adjacent to the water had a 0.2 higher mean knowledge score than people who did not live near the water (t = 2.08, p = 0.038). Non-Hispanic Caucasians had higher mean knowledge scores than other races (t = 3.41, p = 0.001). People who recreate near freshwater had a 0.3 higher mean knowledge score than people who did not recreate near fres hwater (t = 2.69, p = 0.007). Nuisance alligator complainants had a m ean knowledge score of 5.97 (SD=0.63), significantly higher than non-complainants mean score of 5.55 (SD=0.59) (t = 4.77, p < 0.001) (Figure 3-3). However, when question 6 (To report a problem alligator, you should call) was removed from analysis, t he difference in knowledge levels between groups was no longer significant. 57

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5.54 5.55 5.97 1.00 2.00 3.00 4.00 5.00 6.00 7.00 8.00 9.00 10.00 General PublicNon complainantsComplainantsMean number correct out of 10Respondent group Figure 3-3. Mean scores of Floridas general public, nuisance alligator complainants, and non-complainants to 10 questions t hat addressed knowledge of alligators in 2009 Attitudes about Alligators Average attitude about alligators for the general public was between 3 and 4 on a 5 point scale (mean = 3.73, SD = 0.71), (Figure 3-4). For t he general public, the mean attitude score for males was 0.29 hi gher than for females (t = 5.32, p < 0.001). Those who had outside pets had 0.14 higher mean score s than those who did not (t = 2.57, p = 0.011). Those who lived near the water had 0.12 higher mean scores than those who did not live near the water (t = 2.19, p = 0.029). Those who recreated near fresh water had 0.44 higher mean scores than those who did not recreate near fresh water (t = 0.86, p < 0.000). Respondents with children living at home had 0. 14 higher mean attitude scores than those without children (t = 2.32, p = 0.021). No difference was found in attitude between respondents with children liv ing in or visiting the home and those 58

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without (t = 0.44, p = 0.660). 3.73 3.76 3.44 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5 General PublicNon complainantsComplainantsMean response on a 5 point scaleRespondent group Figure 3-4. Mean scores of Floridas general public, nuisance alligator complainants, and non-complainants on the principal component of 10 questions that addressed attitudes about alligators in 2009, with 1 as a very negative attitude about alligators and 5 as a very positive attitude about alligators No significant association was found between length of residency and attitude score for the general public (F = 1.07, p = 0.301). An association was found between age and attitude (F = 10.91, p < 0.001); respondents aged 70 79 had lower mean attitude scores than those aged 30 39 ( p = 0.002), 40 49 ( p < 0.001), 50 59 ( p < 0.001) and 60 68 ( p = 0.029), and respondents aged 80 98 had lower mean scores than those aged 30 39 ( p = 0.014), 40 49 ( p < 0.001), and 50 59 (p < 0.005), (Figure 3-5). No significant association was found between education (F = 1.19, p = 0.162), race (t = 0.49, p = 0.622), or income (F = 1.33, p = 0.060) and attitude. When partitioned by complaint status, mean attitude scores of nuisance alligator complainants (3.44, SD = 0.84) were signifi cantly lower than those of non-complainants (3.76, SD = 0.69), (t = 7.17, p < 0.001) (Figure 3-4). 59

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3.70 3.88 3.98 3.85 3.71 3.36 3.34 1.00 1.50 2.00 2.50 3.00 3.50 4.00 4.50 5.00 18 2930 3940 4950 5960 6970 7980 98Mean response on a 5 point scaleAge categories Figure 3-5. Mean scores by age of Floridas general public on the principal component of 10 questions that addressed attitudes about alligators in 2009, with 1 as a very negative attitude about alligators and 5 as a very positive attitude about alligators Size Estimates about Alligators The general public considered alligators to be large at a mean total length of 2.08 m (6.82 ft), (SD = 0.72), whereas they considered people and pets to be at risk from alligators at a mean size of 1.24 m (4.08 ft), (SD = 0.60) and 1.04 m (3.40 ft) (SD = 0.49), respectively. The size thresholds for men were greater than those for women for all three questions. Men considered alligators to be large, at a mean size of 2.16 m (7.10 ft), (SD = 0.66) versus 1.93 m (6. 35 ft), (SD = 0.75) fo r women (t = 4.17, p < 0.001). Men considered alligators to be a risk to people at a mean size of 1.34 m (4.41 ft), (SD = 0.59) versus 1.10 (3.63 ft) (SD = 0.57) for women (t = 5.29, p < 0.001). Men considered alligators to be a risk to pets at a mean size of 1.12 m (3.66 ft), (SD = 0.47) versus 0.93 m (3.04 ft), (SD = 0.45) for women (t = 5.26, p < 0.001). Nuisance alligator complainants considered alligators to be large, at a mean size of 2.00 m (6.56 ft), (SD = 0.63), and t hey considered people an d pets to be at risk 60

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from alligators at a mean size of 1.26 m (4.13 ft), (SD = 0.53) and 1.05 m (3.45 ft), (SD = 0.45), respectively (Table 3-3). Non-compla inants considered alligators to be large, at a mean size of 2.07 m (6. 80 ft), (SD = 0.71), and they considered people and pets to be at risk from alligators at a mean size of 1.24 m (4.07 ft), (SD = 0.61) and 1.03 m (3.38 ft), (SD = 0.48), respectively. However, the differences in size thresholds between complainants and non-complainants were not significant for size considered large (t = 1.83, p = 0.068), size considered a risk to people (t = 0.56, p = 0.578) or size considered a risk to pets (t = 0.78, p = 0.436). Risk Perceptions about Alligators For the general public, all 4 of the risk perception factors had mean scores lower than the midpoint of the 5-point scale (Personal 2.37, SD = 0.93; User, 2.62, SD = 0.76, Control 2.06, SD=1.07; and Cognizance, 2. 17, SD=1.05), (Figure 3-6), indicating relatively low perceived risks from alligators. Womans mean personal risk perception was 0.18 greater than t hat of men (t = 2.51, p = 0.012). No difference was found with res pect to children living in the home (t = 0.19, p = 0.849), children living in or visiting the home (t = 1.12, p = 0.264), or pets outside (t = 0.09, p = 0.929). Those who lived on the water had a 0.30 greater mean personal risk perception score than those who didnt live on the water (t = 4.17, p < 0.001). No significant association was f ound between personal risk perception score and length of residency (F = 0.28, p = 0.597), age (F = 0.64, p = 0.423), education (F = 0.96, p = 0.539), race (t = 1.26, p = 0.207), or income (F = 1.04, p = 0.410). For user risk perception, those who did not recreate near water had greater mean user risk perception score s than those who did (x = 2.86 [SD = 0.75] versus x = 2.49 [SD = 0.73]), (t = 5.93, p < 0.001). 61

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Nuisance alligator complainants perce ived higher risks than non-complainants on all principal components. The greatest differ ence (0.77) was in the perceived level of personal risk (t = 14.33, p < 0.001), and the least diffe rence (0.22) was in the cognizance of risk (W = 182999, p < 0.001), (Table 3-3). For perceived user risk, nuisance complainants had a 0.26 higher mean score than non-complainants (t = 5.56, p < 0.001). For perceived control of risk, nui sance complainants had a 0.35 higher mean score than non-complainants (W = 185338, p < 0.001). 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5 PersonalUserControlCognizanceMean response on a 5 point scaleRisk perception component General Public Non complainants Complainants Figure 3-6. Mean scores of Floridas general public, nuisance alligator complainants, and non-complainants on principal co mponents found for 16 questions that addressed perceived risks from alligators in 2009, with 1 as no or almost no perceived risk and 5 as great perceived risk Preferences for Alligator Populations Most (64.2%) of the general publi c who offered an opinion thought nonresidential areas had the right amount of alli gators. The general publ ic was split on the ideal amount of alligators in residential area s, with 44.9% thinking that residential areas have the right amount of alligators and 50.1% thinking too many alligators live in 62

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residential areas. A minority of respondents who voiced an opinion thought there were not enough alligators in either residential or non-residential areas (5.0% and 13.2%, respectively) (Figure 3-7). Men in the general public group tended to think there were the right amount or not enough alligators in residential areas, whereas women tended to think there were too many ( = 14.67, p = 0.001). Those in the general public who recreated near fresh water tended to think the the right amount or not enough alligators live in residential areas, whereas those who did not recreate n ear fresh water thought there were too many alligators ( = 9.56, p = 0.008). Those who lived on fresh water tended to think the the right amount or not enough alligators live in re sidential areas, whereas those who did not live on fresh water th ought there were too many ( = 6.99, p = 0.030). No significant difference was found between t hose with children living in the home ( = 1.43, p = 0.490), children living in or visiting the home ( = 0.30, p = 0.863), or outside pets ( = 0.94, p = 0.625). No significant associ ation was found between residential alligator preferences and income ( = 12.62, p = 0.557), education ( = 10.30, p = 0.414), or length of Flori da residency (F = 1.85, p = 0.158). An association was found between age and residential alliga tor preferences (F = 7.28, p = 0.001). Mean age for those who responded there were too many alligators in residential areas was higher than those who thought there we re either the right amount ( p = 0.009) or not enough ( p = 0.018). Non-Hispanic Caucasians were more likely to believe there were the right amount of alligators in residential areas, whereas other races were more likely to believe there were either not enough or too many alligators in residential areas ( = 8.27, p = 0.016). 63

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When responses were segmented by compla int status, most (73.8%), nuisance alligator complainants thought there were t oo many alligators in residential areas, and only 1.5% responded not enough to that question (Figur e 3-7). Complainants were more likely than non-complainants to think ther e were too many alligators in either residential ( = 67.78, p < 0.001), or non-residential areas ( = 31.83, p < 0.001), (Table 3-7). 0.0 10.0 20.0 30.0 40.0 50.0 60.0 70.0 80.0Gen Public Non comp Comp Gen Public Non comp CompResidential Non ResidentialPercent of respondentsArea and respondent type Not enough Right amount Too many Figure 3-7. Opinions of Floridas general public, nuisance alligat or complainants, and non-complainants about the amount of alligators in residential and nonresidential areas in 2009 The general publics responses were also compared to those reported in a 1996 study of Floridians view about alligators (Duda et al. 1996) Views regarding alligators in non-residential areas had changed little, wit h slightly fewer people in 2009 stating there were not enough or t he right amount of alligators, and slightly more choosing too many or dont know. The differenc e between years was less than 5% for each category. For residential areas, slightly (3%) fewer people than in 1996 replied not 64

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enough and the same amount (33%) replied too many. Howeve r, 10% less thought there were the right amount of alligators and 13% more replied dont know (Figure 38). 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 Percent of respondentsNumber of alligators 1996 2009 ResidentialareasNon residentialareas Figure 3-8. Opinions of Floridas general public about the amount of alligators in residential and non-residentia l areas in 1996 and 2009 Opinions about Alligato r Management Strategies Management on AMUs A substantial percentage of the general public were eit her not at all aware (37.9%) or somewhat awar e (27.1%) of FWCs stra tegy for managing alligator populations on AMUs. Despite limited awareness, most re sponded they either agree (47.7%) with this strategy, or are neutral (29.3%). On ly 7.7% responded that they either disagree or disagr ee strongly (Figure 3-9). W hen asked if a change in this strategy was needed, 18.1% wanted more alligators harvested from AMUs, 8.6% wanted fewer alligators harvested from AMUs 18.5% responded in fa vor of a workshop to formulate a new strategy, 30.9% responded, I dont know, and I dont have any 65

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suggestions and 23.9% did not think the strategy should change. Awareness of the strategy was not related to agreement with the strategy ( = 2.52, p = 0.112). 0.0 10.0 20.0 30.0 40.0 50.0 60.0 disagree strongly disagreeneutralagreeagree stronglyPercent of respondentsLevel of agreement Gen Public Non comp Comp Figure 3-9. Levels of agreement with FWCs strategy fo r maintaining alligator populations on AMUs at pre-harvest levels by the general public, nuisance alligator complainants, and non-complainants in Florida in 2009 Men in the general public group were mo re likely than women to be aware of FWCs management strategy on AMUs ( = 8.34, p = 0.004), but there was no significant difference in agreement with the strategy by gender ( = 0.15, p = 0.696). No significant difference in awareness of ( = 3 .29, p = 0.070) or agreement with ( = 1.14, p = 0.286) FWCs management strategy on AMUs was found between those who lived on the water and those who did not. No significant difference in awareness of ( = 0.76, p = 0.385) or agreement with ( = 0.001, p = 0.971) FWCs management strategy on AMUs was found between No n-Hispanic Caucasians and other races. Those who recreated near freshwater were more likely to be aware of FWCs management strategy than those who did not ( = 23.23, p < 0.001), but there was no significant difference in agreement between the groups ( = 0.15, p = 0.699). No significant difference was 66

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found in awareness of FWCs management strategy on AMUs by income ( = 4.62, p = 0.707) or education ( = 10.06, p = 0.074), nor was there a significant difference in agreement with the strategy by income ( = 11.02, p = 0.138). There was a significant association between agreement wit h the strategy and education ( = 14.75, p = 0.011), but it was not linear. When educ ation levels were lumped into 3 categories (high school or less, some college or 2 year degree, and 4 year degree or higher), those with a 4 year degree or higher were more likely to be unaware of the strategy than other respondents ( = 7.20, p = 0.027). No difference was found by age for awareness of (t = 0.13, p = 0.896) or agreement with (t = 0.62, p = 0.533) FWCs managemen t strategy on AMUs. An association was found by length of residency for awareness of FWCs management strategy on AMUs (t = 4.81, p < 0.001); those who were aware had lived in Florida longer. There was no difference in mean length of Florida residency between those who agreed and those who disagreed with FWCs management strate gy on AMUs (t = 0.79, p = 0.431). Among those of the general public who in dicated they were a member of a hunting organization ( n = 71), 11.3% were not at all, 12.7% slightly, 26.8% were somewhat, 25.4% were very, and 23.9% completely aware of FWCs management strategy on AMUs. Of thes e, 1.4% disagreed strongly, 7.0% disagreed, 9.9% were neutral, 47.9% agreed, and 33. 8% agreed strongly with t he strategy. Of those that responded to whether the FWC should change the strategy, 40% wanted to harvest more alligators, 5.7% to harvest fewer, 14.3% wanted a workshop to formulate a new strategy, 11.4% offered no suggestion, and 28. 2% wanted no change in harvest levels. 67

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Among the general public members w ho reported membership in an environmental or conservation organization ( n = 84), 34.9% were not at all, 14.5% slightly, 26.5% were somewhat, 10.8% were very, and 13.3% completely aware of the FWCs management strategy on AMUs. Of these, 4.9% disagreed strongly, 6.1% disagreed, 23.2% were neutra l, 40.2% agreed, and 25.6% agreed strongly with the FWCs strategy. When asked whether t he FWC should change t he strategy, 17.3% wanted more alligators harvested, 11.1% wanted fewer alligator s harvested, 28.4% wanted a workshop to formulate a new st rategy, 19.8% offered no suggestion, and 23.5% wanted no change in harvest levels. Nuisance alligator complainants were more likely than non-complainants to be aware of FWCs management strategy on AMUs ( = 5.35, p = 0.021), but they were no more likely to agree with the strategy ( = 2.56, p = 0.110), (Table 3-4). Nuisance alligator management When asked about management criteria for nuisance alligators (alligators had to 1.2 m (4 ft) in total length and a real or perceived threat to people, pets or property and a complaint about the alligator had to have been received by FWC), most (63.4%) of the general public either agree or strongly agree that the policy for handling nuisance alligators is appropriate (Table 3-1). Relati vely strong agreement was also reported for private communities (48.3%) and privat e landowners (45.9%) rights to have all alligators removed from their property. Howeve r, the public genera lly did not support the right of a landowner to have all alligators re moved from public wate r adjacent to their property, with 61.7% either stating they eit her disagree strongly or disagree with that statement. Similarly, 53.5% disagreed that a municipality should be able to have all alligators removed from within its boundaries. 68

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69 Agreement with the overall nuisance alli gator policy of removing only those alligators 1.2 m (4 ft) in total length was furt her examined for the general public. No significant differences were found in agreem ent with the nuisance alligator policy based on education ( = 1.22, p = 0.943), race ( = 1.45, p = 0.229), income ( = 6.03, p = 0.536), water recreation ( = 0.32, p = 0.573), children at home ( = 1.43, p = 0.232), children living in or visiting the home ( = 1.34, p = 0.244), pets outside ( = 1.75, p = 0.187), or respondent living on the water ( = 3.63, p = 0.057). Women were more likely to disagree with the nuisance alligator policy ( = 4.97, p = 0.026). People who agreed with the policy had lived in Florida longer (t = 2.15, p = 0.032) and were older (t = 5.46, p < 0.001) than those who disagreed. Those who belonged to a hunting group were in greater agreement with the policy (t = 2.28, p = 0.023), than those who did not. No significant difference was found between members of environmen tal or conservation organizations and non-members in their agreement with the nuisance alli gator policy (t = 0.27, p = 0.786). When responses were partitioned into complainant and non-complainant groups, levels of agreement with the nuisance alli gator policy varied. However, for most questions, the bulk of respondents answered in the same way as did the general public. The one statement about which respondents disagreed was, A city should have the right to remove all alligat ors within its boundaries. For th at statement, complainants tended to agree or strongly agree with that statement (41.2%), while noncomplainants and the general pu blic tended to disagree or strongly disagree (55.8% and 53.5%, respectively). Respondents did tend to have an opinion about nuisance

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Table 3-4. Mean values or percentages of respondents who reported they either had (comp.) or had not (non-comp.) ever requested that a problem alligator be removed by re sponse category to questions related to alligator management in a 2009 Florida survey Variable Comp. Non-comp. or t p % Aware of AMU strategy 14.0 13.8 = 5.35 0.021 % Unaware of AMU strategy 29.8 42.4 % Agree with AMU strategy 38.4 48.9 =2.56 0.110 % Disagree with AMU strategy 6.7 6.1 % Agree with nuisance alligator policy 40.8 41.0 =23.44 < 0.001 % Disagree with nuisance alligator policy 5.3 12.8 % Support communities' right to remove alligators 32.3 30.2 =23.71 < 0.001 % Do not support communities' right to remove alligators 13.2 24.4 % Support landowners' removal of alligators 32.0 29.5 =26.40 < 0.001 % Do not support landowners' removal of alligators 13.4 25.2 % Support private owner removing alligators from adjacent public water 18.6 12.1 =51.71 < 0.001 % Do not support private owner removing a lligators from adj. public water 24.1 45.2 % Support city's right to re move alligators 22.2 18.3 =32.33 < 0.001 % Do not support city's right to remove alligators 21.2 38.2 % Agree with small nuisance alligator policy 29.7 45.8 =36.11 < 0.001 % Disagree with small nuisanc e alligator policy 15.2 9.3 % Agree alligators posing no risk should be left alone 29.4 47.5 =19.66 < 0.001 % Disagree alligators posing no risk should be left alone 12.7 10.4 % Support residents relocating small alligators 9.5 12.6 =0.12 0.728 % Do not support residents relocating small alligators 34.5 43.5 % Support residents killing sm all alligators 9.9 5.1 =32.36 < 0.001 % Do not support residents killing small alligators 34.6 50.4 % Support private trappers reloca ting small alligators 26.7 36.3 =0.74 0.39 % Do not support private trappers reloca ting small alligators 16.8 20.2 % Support private trappers killi ng small alligators 10.3 7.1 =20.61 < 0.001 % Do not support private trappers k illing small alligators 32.9 49.7 70

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alligators, though; regardless of group segment ation, for no statemen t did the neutral response category garner the grea test percentage of respondents. Nuisance alligator complainants were mo re likely to support FWCs policy for handling nuisance alligators ( = 23.44, p < 0.001), (Table 3-4). Nuisance alligator complainants were also more likely than non-complainants to support communities ( = 23.71, p < 0.001), pr ivate landowners ( = 26.40, p < 0.001), and cities ( = 32.33, p < 0.001) right to remove a ll alligators fr om their property, as well as a landowners right to remove all alligators from adjacent public waters ( = 51.71, p < 0.001). Small nuisance alligator management Most (67.2%) of the general public either agree or strongl y agree that FWCs policy for handling small nuisance alligators was appropriate (Table 3-5). The majority (71.3%) agreed that if small alligators dont pose a ri sk, they should not be removed. The public did not support ability of resident s to personally relocate or kill small alligators, nor did they suppor t hiring of private nuisance wildlife trappers to kill small alligators. However, a majo rity (53.5%) of th e public did support allowing residents to hire private trappers to relocate small alligators (Table 3-5). When questions about small nuisance alligators were partitioned by complaint status, differences were found in all areas e xcept the two questions related to relocating small alligators. Both complainants and non-complainants showed little support for residents ability to relocate small alligators, and both groups showed slightly more support for the ability to pay pr ivate trappers to relocate sma ll alligators (Table 3-4). Non-complainants were more supportive of the current policy for managing small alligators ( = 36.11, p < 0.001), and showed more agreem ent for the statement that small alligators posing no risk should be left alone ( = 19.66, p < 0.001). Although 71

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both groups disagreed with kill ing small alligators (either personally or by nuisance wildlife trappers), complainants showed less disagreement ( = 32.36, p < 0.001) and ( = 20.61, p < 0.001), respectively. Table 3-5. Percent of the Florida public who agree or dis agree with statements regarding nuisance alligat or management in 2009 Statement Disagree strongly or Disagree Neutral Agree or Agree strongly FWCs policy for nuisance alligators is appropriate 18.5 18.2 63.4 A private community should have the right to remove all alligators 34.5 17.2 48.3 A landowner should have the right to remove all alligators from property 35.2 18.9 45.9 A landowner should have the right to remove all alligators from adjacent public water 61.7 18.4 20.0 A city should have the right to remove all alligators 53.5 18.7 27.9 FWCs policy for small nuisance alligators is appropriate 15.8 17.0 67.2 If alligators dont pose a risk, they should not be removed 17.4 11.4 71.3 Residents should be able to relocate small alligators 66.1 14.3 19.7 Residents should be able to kill small alligators 78.2 12.2 9.5 Residents should be able to pay private trappers to relocate small alligators 28.6 18.2 53.3 Residents should be able to pay private trappers to kill small alligators 74.0 13.8 12.2 Shaded cells indicate responses chosen by the greatest percentage of the public. Beliefs about Nuisance Alligator Behaviors For the passive nuisance component, the general public had a mean below the midpoint on the scale (x = 2.73, SD = 0.97) indicating overall disagreement that those traits described nuisance alligator behaviors (Figure 3-10). For t he active nuisance 72

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component, the general public had a mean of 4.22 (SD = 0.65), indicating overall agreement that those traits descri bed nuisance behaviors (Figure 3-10). 2.73 2.67 3.20 4.22 4.20 4.57 1.00 1.50 2.00 2.50 3.00 3.50 4.00 4.50 5.00 General PublicNon complainantsComplainantsMean respose on a 5 point scaleRespondent group Passive Active Figure 3-10. Mean scores of Floridas general public, nuisance alli gator complainants, and non-complainants on principal co mponents found for 10 items that addressed beliefs about what makes an a lligator a nuisance in 2009. A value of 1 indicated strong disagreement that the described situation constituted a nuisance (i.e., higher tolerance of allig ators) and value of 5 indicated strong agreement that the situation constituted a nuisance (i.e., lower tolerance of alligators). No significant difference was found in t he general publics beliefs about passive nuisance alligator behaviors based on livin g near the water (t = 0.95, p < 0.345), children living in the home (t = 1.70, p = 0.090) or children living in or visiting the home (t = 1.32, p = 0.187). People who do not re create near water had a 0.54 greater mean passive nuisance behavior belief sco res than those who do (t = 6.820, p < 0.001). People with outside pets were less likely to believe a situation constituted a passive nuisance behavior than those wit h no outside pets (t = 4.38, p < 0.001). Women had 0.37 greater mean passive nuisance behavio r belief scores than men (t = 5.01, p < 0.001). Non-Hispanic Caucasians had lower mean passive nuisance behavior belief 73

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74 scores than other races (t = 3.71, p < 0.001). Length of Flori da residency had no effect on passive nuisance behavior beliefs (F = 2.32, p = 0.128). There was a significant but small positive relationship between passive nuisance behavior beliefs and age (F = 9.97, p = 0.002, R = 0.046). There was a si gnificant relationship between passive nuisance behavior beliefs and income (F = 2.15, p = 0.037); those with household incomes less than 40,000 dollars had higher mean passive nuisance behavior beliefs than those with household inco mes over 120,000 dollars ( p = 0.038). No significant association was found with between passive nuisance behavior beliefs and education (F = 0.68, p = 0.639). Mean scores of complainants diffe red from non-complainants on both components. For Passive Nuisance, the mean score for complainants was 3.20 (SD = 0.95), whereas the mean score for non-complainants was 2.68 (SD = 0.95), (t = 9.19, p < 0.001). For Active Nuisance the respons es between groups were closer, but still different. The mean score fo r complainants was 4.57 (SD = 0.53) whereas the mean score for non-complainants was 4.20 (SD = 0.65) (t = 10.46, p < 0.001). Free Responses Although necessarily subjec tive, the coded free responses are summarized here: 45.1% of the comments were positive, 28. 0% were neutral, and 26.9% were negative. Correlations among Key Measures Correlations among key measures are given for the general public only. Experience with alligators was positively correlated with knowl edge of alligators, personal risk perception, and opinions about alligator populations in residential areas, but it was not correlated with other measur es (Table 3-6). All other measures were correlated (Table 3-6).

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Table 3-6. Pearson correlation coefficients for key measures related to the Florida publics opinions about alligators in 2009 EXP KNOW ATT PERSONAL USER CONTROL COGNIZANCE RESIDENTIAL NONRESIDENTIAL PASSIVE ACTIVE EXPERIENCE 1 .082* .037 .174** -.006 .004 -.059 .099* .088 -.053 .012 KNOWLEDGE 1 .286** -.082* -.212** -.164** -.246** -.205** -.124* -.294** -.091* ATTITUDE 1 -.321** -.361** -.388** -.387** -.548** -.464** -.597** -.288** PERSONAL 1 .444** .280** .321** .389** .433** .274** .226** USER 1 .310** .334** .316** .286** .398** .213** CONTROL 1 .300** .234** .198** .391** .171** COGNIZANCE 1 .289** .208** .396** .152** RESIDENTIAL 1 .418** .482** .399** NONRESIDENTIAL 1 .357** .260** PASSIVE 1 .485** ACTIVE 1 correlation is significant (2 tailed) at the p = 0.05 level ** correlation is significant (2 tailed) at the p = 0.01 level Measures included: experience with alligator s, knowledge of alligators, attitudes about alligators, perceptions of personal risk from alligators, perceptions of risk when using the water for recreation, percept ions of ones control over alligatorrelated risks, perceptions of ones understanding of alligator-related risks, belie fs about an alligators mere presence constituting a passive nuisance, and beliefs about an alligators behavior constituting an active nuisance. 75

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Predictive Analyses Personal Risk Perception Significant predictors of perceived per sonal risk from alligators included: experience, attitude, passive nuisance behavior beliefs, whether the person lives on the water, the smallest sized alligator the person considers a risk to people, and whether the person has outside pets (Table 3-7). Knowle dge score, children living in or visiting the home, growing up in a place with alligators, wa ter recreation, age, gender, education, and race were not significant predictors of perceived personal risk from alligators. Table 3-7. Variables in a multiple regre ssion model for predicting perceived level of personal risk from alligator s in Florida in 2009 Variable (R = 0.379) Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients t Sig. B Std. Error Beta Attitude -0.399 0.045 -0.316 -8.918 0.000 Experience 0.189 0.024 0.212 7.752 0.000 Lives on water (yes) 0.419 0.056 0.209 7.504 0.000 Passive Nuisance 0.162 0.034 0.166 4.763 0.000 Size risk to people -0.040 0.015 -0.074 -2.723 0.007 Pets outside (yes) 0.127 0.054 0.065 2.338 0.020 Water recreate (yes) 0.119 0.063 0.053 1.879 0.060 Age -0.003 0.002 -0.042 -1.450 0.147 Child live / visit (yes) 0.072 0.055 0.036 1.302 0.193 Education -0.016 0.017 -0.025 -0.933 0.351 Race (Caucasian) -0.049 0.076 -0.018 -0.648 0.517 Grew up near gators (yes) 0.032 0.056 0.016 0.572 0.568 Gender (male) -0.020 0.053 -0.010 -0.382 0.702 Knowledge 0.005 0.019 0.007 0.255 0.799 Constant 2.885 .300 9.619 .000 Measures included: attitudes about alligators, experience with alligators, whether respondent lived adjacent to freshwater, be liefs about passive nuisance alligator behavior, size alligator respondent belie ved posed a risk to people, whether the respondent had outside pets, whether the res pondent recreated near freshwater, age, whether children lived in or regularly visited the home, education, race, whether the respondent grew up in a place with wild alliga tors, gender, and knowledge of alligators. For binomial variables, reference ca tegories are given in parentheses. 76

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When stepwise regression was conducted, the resultant model included the variables: experience, attitude, passive nuisance behavior beliefs, whether the person lives on the water, the smallest sized alli gator the person considers a risk to people, whether the person has outsi de pets, whether the person recreates near freshwater, and age (Table 3-8). No difference was found between the P > 0.10 removal threshold and the more conservative value of P > 0.20 in identifying the best model for explaining personal risk perception, so the P > 0.10 threshold was used. The model explained 37.7% of the variance. Model fit was asse ssed by visually inspecting standardized residuals for normality. Table 3-8. Variables in a stepwise multiple regression model for predicting perceived level of personal risk from alligators in Florida in 2009 Variable (R = 0.376) Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients t Sig. B Std. Error Beta Experience .193 .024 .217 8.045 .000 Attitude -.398 .044 -.316 -9.127 .000 Passive Nuisance .166 .034 .170 4.948 .000 Lives on water (yes) .419 .055 .209 7.619 .000 Size risk to people -.040 .014 -.075 -2.785 .005 Pets outside (yes) .138 .053 .071 2.607 .009 Water recreate (yes) .136 .061 .061 2.223 .026 Age -.004 .002 -.054 -2.012 .045 Constant 2.854 .275 10.372 .000 Measures included: attitudes about alligators, whether the respondent lived adjacent to fresh water, experience with alligators, be liefs about an alligators mere presence constituting a passive nuisance, the size alligator the respondent believed posed a risk to people, whether the respondent recreated near freshwater in Florida, whether the respondent had outside pets, and age. For binomial variables, reference categories are given in parentheses. People who live on the water, those wit h outside pets, and those who recreate near freshwater had higher personal risk perc eptions, holding other variables constant. As experience levels or passive nuisanc e behavior beliefs increased, so did personal 77

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risk perception. As attitude increased, personal risk perception decreased. Older respondents had lower personal risk perceptions. Alligator size was inversely correlated; the smaller sized alligator a person thought was risky to people, the higher their personal risk perception. Alligator Populations in Residential Areas The binary logistic regression model for preferences of respondents for alligator populations in residential areas was able to a ccurately predict those who thought there were the right amount 70.8% of the time and those who thought there were too many 84.1% of the time, for an overall prediction rate of 78. 9%. Significant predictors of preferences were: attitude, sized alligator a person thought was risky to people, passive nuisance behavior belief, personal risk perception, and age (omnibus x = 321.00, p < 0.001). The goodness-of-fit test indicated a good fitting model ( x = 2.67, p = 0.953). Table 3-9. Variables in a binary logistic regression model used to predict whether respondents in a 2009 survey believed t here were too many alligators in residential areas in Florida Variable B S.E. Wald df Sig. Exp(B) 95% C.I.for EXP(B) Lower Upper Attitude -1.401 .216 42.161 1 .000 .246 .161 .376 Personal risk .701 .137 26.149 1 .000 2.016 1.541 2.638 Passive nuisance .711 .145 23.890 1 .000 2.036 1.531 2.707 Age .018 .008 5.864 1 .015 1.019 1.004 1.034 Size risk to people -.126 .063 4.014 1 .045 .882 .780 .997 Constant 1.327 1.248 1.131 1 .288 3.770 Measures included: attitudes about alligator s, perceived personal risk from alligators, beliefs about an alligators mere presence constituting a passive nuisance, age, and the size alligator the respondent believed posed a risk to people. For each unit increase in attitude score, we expect a 0.246 decrease in the odds of responding there are too many alligators in residential areas, holding all other independent variables constant (Table 3-9). T he effect of passive nuisance is in the 78

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opposite direction; for each unit increase in passive nuisance scores, we expect a 2.036 increase in the odds of responding there ar e too many alligators in residential areas (Table 3-9). Complainant Status The binary logistic regression model to predict complainant status was able to accurately predict those who had not filed a complaint 76.9% of the time, and those who had filed a complaint 82.1% of the time, for an overall prediction rate of 79.5%. All Significant predictors of status were: experience with alligat ors (very low to moderate or high to very high), knowledge of a lligators, beliefs about an alligators mere presence constituting a passive nuisance, perceived personal risk from alligators, whether the respondent lived adj acent to fresh water, whether the respondent grew up in a place with wild alli gators, whether the respondent recreated near freshwater, whether children lived in or regularly visi ted the home, and preferences for alligator populations in residential areas (omnibus x = 362.85, p < 0.001), (Table 3-10). The goodness-of-fit test indicated a good fitting model ( x = 4.68, p = 0.791). For each unit increase in personal risk sco re, we expect a 1.492 increase in the odds of having requested that an alligator be removed (a yes status), holding all other independent variables constant (Table 3-10) The odds of having requested that an alligator be removed are 11.970 times higher for people that live on the water than for those who do not. 79

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80 Table 3-10. Variables in a binary logistic regression model used to predict whether respondents in a 2009 survey had ever complained about a nuisance alligator in Florida Variable B S.E. Wald df Sig. Exp(B) 95% C.I.for EXP(B) Lower Upper Lives on water (yes) 2.395 .263 83.098 1 .000 10.970 6.554 18.358 Exper. (high / v. high) .978 .214 20.970 1 .000 2.660 1.750 4.044 Knowledge .325 .076 18.390 1 .000 1.383 1.193 1.605 Passive Nuisance .433 .130 11.016 1 .001 1.541 1.194 1.990 Personal Risk .400 .135 8.786 1 .003 1.492 1.145 1.943 Grew up gators(yes) -.641 .222 8.325 1 .004 .527 .341 .814 Res. pref. (too many) .658 .249 6.968 1 .008 1.930 1.185 3.145 Child live / visit (yes) .436 .228 3.661 1 .056 1.547 .989 2.418 Water recreate (yes) .477 .279 2.927 1 .087 1.611 .933 2.784 Constant -7.317 .763 91.902 1 .000 .001 Measures included: whether the respondent lived adjacent to fresh water, experience with alligators (very low to moderate or hi gh to very high), knowledge of alligators, beliefs about an alligators mere presence constituting a passive nuisance, perceived personal risk from alligators, whether t he respondent grew up in a place with wild alligators, preferences for alligator populations in residential areas, whether children lived in or regularly visited the home, and whether the responde nt recreated near freshwater. For binomial variables, reference categories are given in parentheses.

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CHAPTER 4 DISCUSSION Response For the general public group, we had a res ponse rate of 27%, and for the targeted nuisance alligator complainants, we had a re sponse rate of 47%. Mail survey response rates vary based on factors such as t he length of questionnaire, repeat contacts, incentives, topic salience, and education levels of target populations, but rates below 30% are not uncommon (Ary et al. 2006; Dillman 2007). Early respondents from our general public sample had higher knowledge scores, lower user risk perceptions, and lower passive nuisance behavior beliefs t han later respondents, suggesting responses on these measures may not be able to be genera lized to the entire Florida population. The general public group may over-represent males, non-Hispanic white people, more highly educated people, and thos e aged 65 and older. Since gender, age, education and race each had a significant relationship to with one or more key variables, they were all included in predict ive models in order to assess their impact. Education and race were not significant predictors of personal risk perception, residential alligator population preference, or complaint st atus. Age was a significant predictor of personal risk perception and preferences. A majority of survey respondents (97% ) identified themselves as permanent residents. This is not surprising given the ti ming of the survey deployment (May / June). Characteristics may differ in seasonal resi dents, and future research might compare statewide attitudes between permanent and s easonal residents. What is surprising, perhaps, is that permanent residents indicate d they had lived in Florida an average of 29 years. This might indicate a bias toward longer term residents being more willing to 81

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respond to the questionnaire, perhaps because this study had less relevance for people with limited experience with alligators or because those people felt their opinions on the issue were less important. A large percent age of respondents indicated that they live near water (43% of the general public and 64% overall). Ou r survey may over-represent those who live near water due to increased sa lience of the topic with those people. The sample may have been biased toward people with greater interest in alligators due to lack of compensation for completing the survey. The decision to omit complainants of small alligators in the nuis ance complainant target population may have resulted in a lower reported risk for that group than truly existed (because those who reported small alligators may have perceived alligat ors as riskier than others). Overall Findings The general public reported moderate leve ls of experience with alligators, moderate knowledge about alligators, relatively positive a ttitudes toward alligators, and a low perceived risk from alligat ors. Overall, the public be lieved that the right amount of alligators inhabited non-reside ntial areas, but they were divided on their beliefs about alligators in residential areas; half thought there were too many and 45% thought there were the right amount. This study also found that the general public considered personal risk from alligators low and voluntary (i.e., the respondent was able to control exposure to risk), supporting existing liter ature that risks view ed as voluntary are accompanied by less fear (Slovic 1987; Smithem & Mazzotti 2008; Harvey et al. 2010). When characteristics were examined by comp laint status (i.e., whether the person had ever requested a problem alligator be re moved), clear differences emerged. As expected, people who had complained about a nui sance alligator repor ted higher levels of experience with alligators, more negative attitudes about alligators, and they were 82

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more likely to believe an alligators behav ior or presence constituted a nuisance. Nuisance alligator complainants perceived alligators as a greater personal risk, a greater risk during water-related recreation, a risk they had less control over, and less well understood risk than did non-complainants ; the largest difference was in the perceived level of personal risk. Complainants were also more likely than noncomplainants to believe there were too ma ny alligators in eit her residential or nonresidential areas. Regardless of group segment ation (i.e., general public, complainants, and noncomplainants), all groups had mean knowledge scores above the midpoint on the scale, indicating moderate levels of knowledge about alligators. No-one answered all 10 knowledge questions correctly, suggesting some questions may have been too difficult. A more thorough pre-testing may have helped identify this issue. There was a significant (if fairly small) differenc e in knowledge between nuisance alligator complainants and non-complain ants. When the question about how to report a nuisance alligator was removed the difference betw een complainants and non-complainants was no longer significant, suggesting the difference in groups lies in their knowledge about how to report a problem. Knowledge was not a significant predictor of ones personal risk perception or ones preference for alligator populations in residential areas. People who lived or recreated near freshw ater had more positive attitudes than those who did not. People who did not recreate near freshwater were more likely than those who did recreate near water to believe that an alligators presence constituted a nuisance and that alligators posed a greater risk to people engaged in water recreation 83

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activities. Water recreation wa s also a significant predictor an increase in perceived personal risk from alligators. Smithem and Mazzotti (2008) found that negative attitudes toward American crocodiles were correlated with higher perce ived risks to people from crocodiles. Our findings are consistent with that; negative a ttitudes toward alligators were correlated with higher scores on all risk perception factor s. More positive attitudes predicted lower risk personal perceptions. Other factors predicting risk perception were: higher experience levels, more belief that an alligators presence constituted nuisance, living on the water, and belief that smaller alligators posed a risk to people. As found by Smithem and Mazzotti (2008) and Riley and Decker (2000a), this study found that risk percepti on and attitude were predictor s of acceptance capacity, using alligator population pref erences (right amount or too many) in residential areas as a proxy for acceptance. People who thought they were at greater risk from alligators and those who were more likely to think an alligators presence was a nuisance were more likely to think there were too many alligators in residential areas. Alligator size was inversely correlated with views of alligat or populations in residential areas; the smaller sized alligator a person thought was risky to people, the more likely they were to believe there were too many alligators in residential areas. Whether a respondent lived adjac ent to freshwater was t he most important factor in predicting whether they had ever comp lained about an alligator in a model with an overall accurate prediction rate of 79.5%. Experience, knowledge, beliefs a about what constitutes a nuisance alligator, personal risk perception, and whether they thought there were too many alligator s in residential areas were other positive predictors of 84

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whether a person had complained about an al ligator. Having grown up in an area with wild alligators predicted a dec reased likelihood of having co mplained. Interestingly, attitude was not a significant predictor of co mplaint status. However, the inclusion of other variables with which attitude was correlated may have obscured its effect. Demographic Differences Literature has shown that older indi viduals tend to have more negative views about wildlife (Krester et al 2009; Kellert et al. 1996; Kellert 1996). Our results show that respondents over 70 years old had more negative attitudes about alligators than those between the ages of 30 and 59. Howeve r, in our study older respondents attitudes did not significantly differ from those of younger respondents, whereas Kellert (1996) found young adults to have views which contrast with elders. It is not clear whether these differences reflect a decline in attitudes with age, or a cohort effect. For example, middle-aged individuals grew up during the rebound of alligator populations, thus their positive attitudes could be related to a view of the alligator as a symbol of successful conservation efforts. When other variables were held constant, age was a significant predictor of personal risk perception but not in the dire ction expected; an increase in age actually predicted lower risk perception scores. However, an increase in age predicted higher likelihood of believing there were too many alligators in residential areas. Age was not a significant predictor of whether or not someone had comp lained about an alligator. These findings suggest that although age does a ffect alligator population preference, it does not do so via risk perception. Risk perception literature has show n that men tend to perceive lower environmental risks than women (Bord & OConnor 1997; Finucane et al. 2000; Kellert 85

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& Berry 1987; Zinn & Pierce 2002). Hines and Scheaffer (1977) found that men in Florida were 8 times more likely than wom en to regard large alli gators in urban areas as only rarely dangerous. Duda and colleagues (1996) found that men were more likely than women to think there were not enough alligators in Florida residential areas. Harvey and coworkers (2010) found that men had more positive attitudes toward alligators and were more likely to regard an increase in the alligator population on Sanibel Island, Florida as positive. This st udy further supports this gender discrepancy. Men in the general public gr oup had more positive attitudes toward alligators, lower perceptions of personal risk, and were less li kely to believe there were too many alligators in residential areas or that the presence of an al ligator constituted a passive nuisance situation. However, when other factors were held constant, gender did not emerge as a significant predictor of personal risk perception, belief that there were too many alligators in residential areas, or whether an individual had filed a complaint, suggesting that the gender diffe rence, though significant, is not as important as other factors to those measures. Comparison with Past Allig ator Opinion Surveys Some of Floridians views about alligator s seem to be quite stable. Hines and Scheaffer (1977) found that 92% of respondents believed that alligators had value. Our study found that 84% of the general public either agree or strongly agree with that statement. Methodological differences betwe en the two studies pr eclude drawing too many conclusions from this information (Dillman & Christian 2005), but it is clear that Floridians still overwhelmingly believe alligat ors are an important part of the Florida scene (Hines & Scheaffer 1977). Opinions of alligator populations in non-residential areas seem relatively consistent with t he 1996 study by Duda et al.; slightly fewer 86

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people in 2009 people thought there were not enough or the right amount of alligators, and slightly more thought there were too many alligators or chose dont know. Fewer people in 2009 than in 1996 thought there were the right amount of alligators in residential ar eas, but there was not a corresponding increase in the percentage of people who thought there were too many alligators. Instead, more people in 2009 than in 1996 responded that they dont know about alligator populations in residential areas. Thus people in 2009 appeared less likely to have a strong opinion on the subject. Management Recommendations The general public cited TV nature shows, and secondarily news, as their most important sources of informati on about alligators. If FWC see ks to take a lead role in shaping alligator-related messaging to the public, staff experts should continue to take advantage of opportunities to work with nature shows and news outlets whenever possible. If obstacles to these collaborations exist, hosts or reporters will likely look elsewhere for expert opinions, potentia lly compromising consistency (or even accuracy) of available public in formation about alligators. Public reliance on news as a major informa tion source also provides managers the opportunity to tailor messaging based on cu rrent events. Gore and coworkers (2005) found that media cover age did not cause an appreciable in crease in perceived risk from bears after a bear-related human fatality in t he area; they hypothesized the reason was that coverage consistently stressed the rari ty of such dangerous en counters. Managers should develop a sound bite that stresses the unlikelihood of the negative encounters with alligators if appropriate behaviors are followed, and include it consistently with public messages about alligators. 87

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Gore and Knuth (2009) later found that a communication campaigns operating environment (i.e., external conditions) plays a cr itical role in the efforts effectiveness. This suggests an opportunity for FWC to be proactive in messaging whenever environmental or social conditions might generate an increase in public interest in alligators. For example, in addi tion to press releases about risk-reducing behavior in the spring (as alligator activity increases in many parts most of the state) or in response to high profile alligator bites to people or pet s, consider press releases during droughts (when alligators may be concentrated in visi ble areas), or concu rrent with alligator hunting announcements, for example. Other information sources were rated as less important. The internet is a cost effective method of providing information (Smithem & Mazzotti 2008), but respondents learned little about alligators from this source, perhaps because the mean age for general public respondents was 56 years (thus most did not grow up using the internet as a reference). Schools were also rated as a relatively unimportant information source, perhaps because 68% of respondents did not grow up in a place with wild alligators. Nonetheless, finding ways to integrate inform ation about alligators into the classroom can be invaluable to engender positive attitudes from children as they mature (Kidd & Kidd 1996). Managers are becoming increasingly aw are that a focus on changing human behavior can provide longer-term and less c onflict ridden soluti ons than dealing with animals alone (Baruch-Mordo et al. 2009). Although one might expect people with outside pets to dislike alligators (which o ften prey on pets), those with outside pets actually had more positive attitudes about alligators than thos e without outside pets. 88

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Although research in this area is somewhat limited, Bjerke et al. (2003) found that pet owners had more positive attitudes about urban wildlife than people without pets. Pet owners were also less likely to believe that the mere presence of an alligator constitutes a nuisance. However, alligators do pose a risk to pets that spend time close to or in the water, and people who complain about nuisance alligators often cite concern for pets as a reason they want an alligator removed (personal observation). Removing an alligator near a complainants home might temporar ily reduce risk to pets (i.e., because that specific alligator no longer poses a risk), but there is no guarantee another alligator is not present or will not move into the area. Also, alligator removal can foment conflict between the complainant and neighbors who do not want the alligator removed (personal observation). Our findings indicate that pet owners, bec ause of their positive attitudes and their belief that an alligators mere presence does not constitute a nuisance, may be receptive to information about how to keep their pets safe without removing alligators. Education efforts aimed at reducing conflict between people and alligators should stress the importance of behavior modification of people (e.g., not allowing pets near the water). The general public agreed with FWCs current AMU management strategy, despite their limited awareness of the topic. Their responses to the Active nuisance behavior belief statements reflected that there are certain situations in which most people would consider an alligator to be a nuisance. However, their general disagreement with the Passive nuisance behavior belief statement s showed that most Floridians do not consider the mere presence or normal behavior of an alligator to be a nuisance. They agreed with FWCs overall handling of nuisance alligators, but they did not support a 89

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city or private landowners ability to indi scriminately remove alligators from public waters. They agreed with FWCs current handli ng of small alligators, and they did not support the handling or killing of small alligator s by on-site residents. However, they did support allowing residents to pay private tr appers to relocate small alligators. FWC should evaluate the appropriateness and feasibi lity of allowing private wildlife trappers to relocate small al ligators for a fee. Conclusion Stakeholders increasingly influence wildlif e management decisions (Riley et al. 2002). While this may enhance acceptability of resulting decisions in some contexts (Guynn & Landry 1997), particularly active groups may over-influence policy in others (Baker & Fritsch 1997; Loyd & DeVo re 2010). Managers should guard against generalizing views of a single vocal stakeholder group to the general public. Predator management in the western U. S. in the 20th century demons trates the perils of that approach; hunters and ranchers persuaded the federal governm ent to employ bounties, trapping, and poisoning to control predator populations, followed by a public backlash resulting in ballot initiatives and ultimately reduced management options (Torres et al. 1996; Treves et al. 2006; Treves 2008). Our study demonstrates that the views of a particular stakeholder group (in this case, nuis ance alligator complainants) can vary in important ways from others. Predator management requires striking a balance between animal conservation and human safety (Clark et al. 1995). Removi ng all risks from society is not possible, and attempting to do so would not only be prohi bitively expense (Slovic 1987) but could have other negative impacts, such as reduced biodiversity and public backlash as in the example of predator control in the western U. S. 90

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91 FWCs current management strategies do appear to strike the proper balance with the public, who showed overall support for strategies on AMUs as well as many aspects of the nuisance alligator policy. Still, future efforts to encourage st akeholder participation should include outreach to the public at large, not just known constituents. If tools such as online surveys are used, respondents s hould be asked about their affiliation with stakeholder groups (i.e., alligator hunter, nui sance complainant, etc.), so that the managers can assess whether one group is over-represented. Formulating nuisance alligator policies based on input received larg ely from those with negative or fearful views about alligators could result in overharvest of alligators from residential areas. Although this may seem acceptable to some (half the general public respondents who offered an opinion thought ther e were too many alligators in residential areas), the issue is not so straightforward. Homes are often adjacent to natural lakes and wetlands, and the public was largely not supportive of indiscriminate removal of alligators from public waters by either private landowners or municipalities. Also, the public had relatively positive attitudes toward alli gators, and perceived relatively low risks from them. Substantial reduction of alligator populations in resi dential areas could trigger a backlash which limits options for managemen t. Care must be taken to not allow squeaky wheel constituents to over-influence decisions.

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APPENDIX A THE ANNOUNCEMENT POSTCARD In a few days you will receive in the mail a request to fill out a brief questionnaire for an important research project being conducted by the University of Florida and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Cons ervation Commission. It concerns your opinions about alligators and their management in Florida. The study is important because it will help the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission understand Floridians beliefs about alligators and how to better educate people about alligators. We hope that you will complete the questionnaire as soon as you receive it. Only with your help can our research be successful. Thank you for your time and consideration! Sincerely, Blair Hayman Survey Director 863-462-0023 blair.hayman@myfwc.com 92

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APPENDIX B THE FIRST COVER LETTER 93

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APPENDIX C THE REMINDER POSTCARD A week ago you received a questionnaire seeking your views on alligators and their management in Florida. You were randomly selected from a list of Floridians. If you have already completed the questionnaire, please accept our sincere thanks. If you havent completed and mailed the questionna ire, please do so today. This survey was sent to only a small representative sa mple of households. Therefore, it is extremely important that your questionnaire be included. This will help ensure that the survey will accurately represent the views of all Floridians. If by some chance you did not receive the questi onnaire, or it got mi splaced, please call or email me and I will get another copy in the mail to you today. If you have any questions about how to complete this survey, please feel free to call me. Sincerely, Blair Hayman Survey Director 863-462-0023 blair.hayman@myfwc.com 94

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APPENDIX D THE SECOND COVER LETTER 95

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APPENDIX E THE SELF-ADMINISTERED QUESTIONNAIRE 96

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LIST OF REFERENCES Agresti, A. 2002. Categorical Data Analysi s. Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey. Alreck, P. L. and R. B. Settle. 1995. T he survey research handbook: guidelines and strategies for conducting a survey. 2nd edition. Irwin, Chicago, Illinois. Ary, D., L. C. Jacobs A. Razavieh, and C. Sorensen. 2006. Introduction to research in education. 7th edition. Thompson Higher Education, Belmont, California. Baker, S. V. and J. A. Fritsch. 1997. New territory for deer management: human conflicts on the suburban frontier. Wildlife Society Bulletin 25: 404-407. Bath, A., A. Olszanska, and H. Okarma. 2008. From a hum an dimension perspective, the unknown large carnivore: public attitudes toward Eurasian lynx in Poland. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 13: 31-46. Barrow, M. V. 2009. Dragons in distress: naturalists as bioactivists in the campaign to save the American alligator. Journal of the History of Biology 42: 267-288. Baruch-Mordo, S., S. W. Breck, K. R. Wilson, and J. Broder ick. 2009. A tool box half full: how social science can help solve human-wildlife conflict. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 14: 219-223. Bjerke, T., T. Ostdahl, and J. Kleiven. 2003. Attitudes and activities related to urban wildlife: pet owners and non-owners. Anthrozos 16: 253-263. Bord, R. J. and R. E. OC onnor. 1997. The gender gap in environmental attitudes: the case of perceived vulnerability to risk. Social Science Quarterly 78: 830-840. Caldicott, D. G. E., D. Croser, D., C. Manolis, G. Webb, and A. Briton. 2005. Crocodile attack in Australia: an analysis of its incidence and review of the pathology and management of crocodilian attacks in general. Wilderness and Environmental Medicine 16: 143-159. Carpenter, L. H., D. J. Decker, and J. F. Lipsco mb. 2000. Stakeholder acceptance capacity in wildlife management. Hu man Dimensions of Wildlife 5: 5-19. Chan, Y. H. 2005. Biostatistics 305. Multi nomial logistic regression. Singapore Medical Journal 46: 259-269. Cherkiss, M. S., J. A. Frost, and F. J. Mazzotti. 2008. An Evaluation of HumanCrocodile Interactions in South Florida. Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center. University of Florida. Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 108

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Clark, T. W., A. P. Curlee, and R. P. Reading. 1995. Crafting effectiv e solutions to the large carnivore conservation problem. Conservation Biology 10: 940-948. Costello, A. B. and J. W. Osbor ne. 2005. Best practices in ex ploratory factor analysis: four recommendations for getting the mo st from your a nalysis. Practical Assessment, Research and Eval uation. DOI: 10.1.1.110.9154 David, D. 1986. A statewide alligator managem ent program proposal. Wildlife Research Laboratory. Florida Game Fish and Fresh Water Fish Commissi on. Gainesville, Florida. Decker, D. J. and K. G. Pu rdy. 1988. Toward a concept of wildlife acceptance capacity in wildlife management. Wildlife Society Bulletin 16: 53-57. Dillman, D. A. 2007. Mail and Internet Surve ys: The tailored design method. Second edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. Dillman, D. A. and L. M. Chri stian. 2005. Survey mode as a source of instability in response across surveys. Field Methods 17: 30-52. Duda, M. D., K. C. Young, T. E. Graham, R. S. Sipes, and S. J. Bissell. 1996. Floridians opinions and attitudes towa rd alligator management in Florida. Responsive Management. Harrisonburg, Virginia. Finucane, M. L., P. Slovic, C. K. Mertz, J. Flynn, and T.A. Satterfield. 2000. Gender, race and perceived risk: the white male effect. Health, Risk & Society 2: 159172. FWC Alligator Management Pr ogram. Available from http://myfwc.com/wildli fehabitats/managed/alligator/ (accessed March 2011). FWC Commission Meeting Protocol. Available from http://myfwc.com/about/commi ssion/meeting-protocol/ (accessed March 2011). Gore, M. L., W. F. Siemer J. E. Shanahan, D. Schuefel e, and D. J. Decker. 2005. Effects on risk perception of media co verage of a black bear-related human fatality. Wildlife Society Bulletin 33: 507-516. Gore, M. L. and B. A. Knut h. 2009. Mass media effects on the operating environment of a wildlife-related risk-communication cam paign. Journal of Wildlife Management 73: 1407-1413. Guynn, D. E. and M. K. Landry. 1997. A case study of citize n participation as a success model for innovative solutions for natural resource problems. Wildlife Society Bulletin 25: 392-398. 109

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Blair Hayman was born in Albemarle, Nort h Carolina in 1978. In 1991, she moved with her family to Leesburg, Florida where she graduated from Leesburg High School in 1996. From there she went to Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she earned a Bachelor of Science with a double major in ecology and evolutionary biology and environmental studies in 2000. Afte r graduating from college, she moved to California, where she mist-netted and banded songbirds as an intern and later field biologist for the Institute for Bird Populati ons. She also worked as a scientific aide for the California Department of Fish and Game, dealing prim arily with mule deer, elk, waterfowl and shorebirds. In 2004, she returned to Florida to accept a position with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissions Alligator Management Program. From 2005 to 2010, she served as the Assistant Coordinator of the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program. In 2007, she enrolled at the University of Florida to pursue a Master of Science in the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. 114