A qualitative study of wildlife feeding in south-east Queensland
Although feeding wildlife in urban settings appears to be widespread in Australia, there is little information on why people do it. This two-part qualitative investigation used a grounded theory approach to present the perspectives of two groups with interests in the practice, namely wildlife managers and a self-identified group of people who feed wildlife. The initial phase consisted of 29 unstructured, in-depth interviews with wildlife feeders, people negatively affected by wildlife feeding, wildlife managers and wildlife policy makers. Analysis of these data informed the second phase of the study, the drafting and mail out of an open-ended questionnaire to 220 residents of southeast Queensland who volunteered to take part in the study. Returned surveys were analysed for content and theme. The most common theme throughout the datasets was that of dependency. Dependency was perceived as both a positive and negative aspect of feeding. Both managers and those who feed wildlife expressed concerns for the welfare of wildlife. However, managers expressed their opposition to feeding as a threat to welfare while feeders claimed the practice improved the welfare of wildlife. A conclusion drawn from the study is that the different constructions of wildlife by the two groups could be linked to the way in which wildlife knowledge is acquired: strongly knowledge-based for wildlife managers and primarily experience-based for feeders.