The wolves are back! Local attitudes towards the recently re-populated grey wolf and wolf management in Bükk National Park, Hungary

Keywords: Bükk National Park, Canis lupus, human-wildlife conflict, Hungary, wolf conservation

Abstract

Parallel to trends in North America and elsewhere in Europe, the population of large carnivores is slowly increasing in Hungary, including within the Bükk National Park (BNP). After almost a century of absence, the wolf (Canis lupus) re-entered the BNP in 2010, and human-wolf conflicts of livestock depredation and competition for wild game immediately followed. Local acceptance is a key factor in successful large carnivore conservation and coexistence. Utilizing a household questionnaire administered in 3 local villages and semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders, in this exploratory study we assessed local attitudes and the suite of demographic, socio-economic, and cultural variables which shape them, and their implications towards wolf management in BNP. Our results are similar to global trends, namely attitudes are varied towards institutions responsible for wolf management, and towards wolves themselves with Wolf Attitude Index values ranging from -20 to 22 (M=0.59, SD=10.874, n=51) reflecting positive, neutral and negative sentiments. We demonstrate that attitudes towards wolves are largely determined by communication channels concerning wolf knowledge and hunting orientation. These factors are discussed, along with recommendations towards expanded research and enhanced coexistence.

Published
2019-06-13