Coyotes on the Web: Understanding Human-Coyote Interaction and Online Education Using Citizen Science
Author(s)Rasmussen, Zuriel Anne
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AbstractCoyote (Canis latrans) numbers are increasing in urban areas, leading to more frequent human-coyote interactions. Rarely, and particularly when coyotes have become habituated to humans, conflicts occur. Effective education about urban coyotes and how to prevent habituation reduces conflict. Citizen science, in the form of online education, can be used to engage and educate city dwellers about urban coyotes. In this research, I explore Portland Metropolitan Area (PMA) residents' baseline experiences with, and attitudes toward, urban coyotes. Next, I investigate citizen science as a tool for education. Using the Portland Urban Coyote Project (PUCP), a citizen science project, as a case study, I investigate people's experiences with citizen science and evaluate whether attitudes and knowledge about coyotes changes after an interactive online educational tool. Most participants had seen a coyote at least once, were generally positive about coyotes, and were well-informed about basic facts. Participants who completed a tutorial that provided basic information about coyotes and dispelled common myths, showed higher knowledge scores and more positive, research-based attitudes. These results suggest that educational tools in citizen science projects can be effective for providing information and shaping attitudes about urban coyotes. Increased public access to education about how to live safely with coyotes is an important tool for proactive management. Online educational tools associated with citizen science projects are a viable option for efficient, inexpensive management of urban coyote populations.