A National Assessment of the Intrastructure for Urban Wildlife Management
North America is currently the most urbanized geographical area in the world, with over 82% of the population living in urban areas. Urbanization has led to a profound change in many ecosystems and associated wildlife across the nation and has altered the human perspective of the environment. Urban wildlife management is an emerging field of ecology that addresses the human dimension in urban wildlife ecosystems, taking into account human perspectives as well as wildlife needs in urban ecosystems. Universities and state wildlife agencies are the main driving forces for research and management, and it is crucial that these institutions provide support for managing wildlife in urban environments.
Universities (n = 73) and state wildlife agencies (n = 50) in each state across the nation were surveyed to: 1) to assess whether a structure for urban wildlife management at state DNRs and universities across the U.S. existed; 2) compare current infrastructure for urban wildlife management to the infrastructure present prior to 2000; and 3) determine how current infrastructure for urban wildlife management might be related to other national trends including level of urbanization, economic loss due to urban wildlife, and participation in wildlife-related activities.
The majority of these respondents agreed there was a public demand for urban wildlife management in their state and that their institution was involved in urban wildlife management concerns. However, respondents reported a total of only 126 full time urban wildlife biologists (compared to 8,451 traditional biologists) in state wildlife agencies and universities across the nation. Though there are still few urban wildlife biologists within state agencies or universities, the average number of urban wildlife biologists per institution has doubled since 1999. Indicators of infrastructure for urban wildlife management within state agencies and universities were unrelated to other national trends that were considered for the scope of this study.
Despite limitations including lack of funding, competing wildlife issues, and poor communication, organizations should be more involved with addressing urban wildlife management concerns. State wildlife agencies and universities need to establish clear support and communication for urban wildlife needs. Though expansion in this area has occurred in the last two decades, there are growing urban wildlife concerns that should be addressed with focused attention by leading wildlife institutions.