Human Dimensions of Wildlife Unit

What are Human Dimensions?

Wildlife issues are complex. While human behavior may contribute to conflict with wildlife, people are also key to meaningful conservation and management actions. Such conservation efforts require a comprehensive understanding not only of ecology and wildlife biology, but also of policy, socioeconomic factors, cultural and social values, and other dimensions of human behavior.

The CDFW Human Dimensions of Wildlife Conservation (HD) Unit is a collaborative program conducting interdisciplinary research to better manage California’s natural resources. HD research investigates the role that people play in wildlife management and conservation, actions and decision-making, using comprehensive social and environmental sciences.

America's Wildlife Values

A collaboration of human dimensions researchers, led by Colorado State University, are investigating American's beliefs, attitudes, and values towards wildlife. The results of this project will help wildlife conservation and management groups to better understand different views and awareness of wildlife issues in communities across the country. The full project team and reports are available at the America's Wildlife Values website.

Drought Response Implementation Plan

The Drought Response Implementation Plan (DRIP) was created in 2015 in response to extreme drought conditions in California and how it may impact human-wildlife interactions. Between September 1, 2015 and June 30, 2017, every report about human-wildlife interactions received by CDFW staff was recorded and documented. Approximately 30,763 reports were documented and categorized into one of six categories: public safety, perceived public safety, property damage, animal welfare, general nuisance, and sighting. The HD Unit is using this data to examine trends in reporting of human-wildlife interactions during drought. Since 2017, an online Wildlife Incident Reporting System (WIR) has replaced DRIP protocol for documenting and compiling conflict reports. If you have encountered wildlife, or have experienced a problem with wildlife, please visit CDFW's Living with Wildlife page for resources.

Human Dimensions of Wildlife Rehab

California is lucky to have a diverse community of passionate wildlife rehabilitation workers and volunteers that care for injured, sick, and orphaned wildlife. Wildlife rehabilitation centers are permitted through CDFW's Wildlife Welfare and Rehabilitation Program. Human dimensions research can help wildlife rehabilitation efforts by identifying what information and resources rehab volunteers need to care for wildlife. Bar graph showing responses to question about what are the most important limitations and challenges for rehab communication and outreach

In winter 2019, the HD Unit distributed a survey at an annual meeting of wildlife rehabilitation centers. One question on the survey was about some of the challenges and limitations rehabilitation centers have for engaging in communication and outreach activities. The biggest limitations to communication and outreach were a lack of time and money.

Bar graph showing top choices for new rehab outreach and informationAnother question asked wildlife rehabilitation centers about what sort of new information sources they would find most useful. There was a lot of variation in what centers choose as their top ranked choice. The most commonly selected resource was information to help the public learn how to tell if an animal needs help or assistance. This information will help the HD Unit work with different people in the wildlife rehabilitation community to develop new communication and outreach materials that meet the top needs and priorities.

Recruitment, Retention, Reactivation

Through the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, hunters provide some of the strongest support for wildlife conservation projects. In recent decades, California and the rest of the nation has seen a decline in the number of hunters. The Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation (R3) is a collaborative effort between CDFW and the hunting, fishing, and shooting sports community to address this decline. The HD Unit helps to provide the social science tools to examine trends and patterns in hunting.

Wildlife Watch

Wildlife Watch Logo

Wildlife Watch is a multi-agency partnership program that provides support and training to local governments and community groups to help them design and implement their own nuisance wildlife action plans. The program is intended to reduce human-wildlife conflicts in California’s urban environments by empowering local governments and community groups to proactively address, prevent and manage nuisance wildlife issues in their own neighborhoods. One of the goals of Wildlife Watch is to train residents on how to prevent conflict with wildlife in their neighborhoods. This includes removing attractants (for example, securing trash containers) and preventing excluding wildlife from inappropriate denning sites (such as under porches or in attics). Currently, 16 cities in southern California (serving approximately 3.8 million residents) have a Wildlife Watch program.