Behaviourally effective communication and engagement in the management of wild dogs

Behaviourally effective communication and engagement in the management of wild dogs

Congratulations to Dr Lynette McLeod from the University of New England who is now leading the CISS-funded project applying behavioural science principles to develop targeted engagement strategies and messaging to improve participation in community-led wild dog management programs.

Dr McLeod takes over from Professor Don Hine, who is now working at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, but still very much involved in the research and advising on the project.

Dr McLeod’s behavioural science approach involves four stages:

  • identifying landholder behaviours that will have the biggest positive impact on improving wild dog management,
  • understanding the factors that cause landholders to adopt or not adopt these behaviours,
  • developing interventions to maximise the likelihood of adoption, then
  • evaluating the interventions, using rigorous scientific methods, to refine the approach and implement a cycle of continuous learning.

Stage 1 and 2 of the process have now been completed. The project team initially consulted with stakeholder groups to identify 11 key landholder behaviours and their potential impact. They then conducted a random digit-dial phone survey of 356 landholders to collect information on existing levels of participation in the identified key behaviours, along with the future likelihood of adoption.

To identify the priority behaviours the team mapped this information along with stakeholder’s impact data in an Impact Likelihood matrix.

The behaviours mapped onto the matrix can fall in one of four quadrants:

  1. Behaviours falling in the top right quadrant are relatively easy to adopt and have a large impact on the issue so are the first to be considered. However, more often than not, these behaviours may already have a high adoption rate. So despite their high impact, they are not always the best behaviours to target.
  2. Behaviours in the top left quadrant also have a high impact on the issue so may provide better potential targets. Because they are more difficult to do, they tend to have a lower likelihood of adoption, and will require more work and resources to be adopted.
  3. Behaviours in the bottom right quadrant have a high likelihood of adoption but lack effective impact on the issue. Because they are easy to adopt, they might act as a catalyst to encourage more difficult behaviours in the future.
  4. Behaviours in the bottom left quadrant have both a low impact and likelihood of adoption. These behaviours are low priority, because they achieve little to address the issue and are difficult to adopt.

The project is now concentrating on  two identified target behaviours to encourage landholders to:

  • join a coordinated effort in their community,
  • to immediately report any sightings or wild dog impacts to the appropriate authorities.

To investigate what factors are enabling or impeding landholders’ participation in these two chosen behaviours, they have conducted a second random digit-dial survey of 384 NSW landholders. Work is well underway on the next stage to develop appropriate interventions to be piloted in upcoming wild dog management programs.

Learn more about this project here –

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