Controlling invasive species by empowering environmental stakeholders: Ecotourism boat operators as potential guardians of wildlife against the invasive American mink
Fraser EJ., Macdonald DW., Bryce R., Lambin X.
Copyright © Fauna & Flora International 2014. People who have a stake in their environment are more likely to volunteer to assist conservation but they must be empowered to do so. This study explored the possibility of harnessing volunteers in the control of an invasive predator, the American mink Neovison vison, which decimates seabird colonies in coastal west Scotland. A questionnaire was sent to ecotourism boat operators, a group assumed to have an economic interest in wildlife biodiversity and a stake in their environment, to gauge their opinion on lethal control of American mink. The majority (64%) of respondents were concerned about the presence of mink in their area, agreed with control in principle and were willing to become involved in a volunteer capacity. Respondents who would not volunteer but agreed with control (21%) might reconsider if mink had a visible impact on their local wildlife. The minimum level of support people expected was information on where to get, and how to deploy, monitoring and trapping equipment. This study confirms that people with an intrinsic interest in wildlife consider themselves willing to protect their local biodiversity, with only limited resource input, such as an information pack, from external sources.