Whether it is a fox, rabbit or badger, many people enjoy wild animals in their surroundings. But wild animals do not always follow the rules and expectations of their human neighbors, so conflicts are bound to happen. As a result, Geva Peerenboom, Fanny Betge, and Prof. Dr. Ilse Storch from the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Management at the University of Freiburg, together with Dr. Christof Janko from the Ministry for the Environment, Rural Affairs and Consumer Protection in Baden-Württemberg, have compiled the guide “Wildmanagement im Siedlungsraum” (“Wildlife Management in Residential Areas”). This manual is intended to serve as a guide for people dealing with the topic as well as authorities in urban and rural districts and municipalities in Baden-Württemberg in order to prevent or mitigate conflict-laden situations between humans and animals.
“In every community in Baden-Württemberg, people have some type of direct contact with wildlife, but it sometimes comes as a surprise,” explains Peerenboom. Often, the encounter between humans and wild animals in residential areas has negative effects, whether economic, psychological or health-related. Wild animals can cause damage to human property, such as a wild boar in the yard; disturb people’s sleep, such as a beech marten in the attic; or transmit diseases, such as a small fox tapeworm. “Alternately, humans can cause avoidable suffering in wild animals, mostly due to ignorance,” said the scientist from Freiburg. “At the same time, many people view wild animals in residential areas as an enriching nature experience and truly enjoy the wildlife. Society generally appreciates a diversity of animal species in urban areas.”
For this reason, the Baden-Württemberg Ministry for the Environment, Rural Affairs and Consumer Protection funded the project “Wild Animals in the Residential Areas of Baden-Württemberg” at the University of Freiburg from 2010 to 2020. The researchers first examined the existing wildlife management structures in residential areas, gathered experience from other German states and analyzed the attitudes and expectations of the population on this topic. Together with stakeholders from administration, hunting, animal protection, species conservation, veterinary and wildlife research, they developed a conceptual basis on which to build. A telephone survey showed the need: 97 percent of the people surveyed in Baden-Württemberg stated that they needed support in dealing with wild animals in their residential area. At the same time, only 55 percent of those surveyed felt that the authorities provided sufficient support in this area. It is a question the Freiburg researchers hope to address with their manual. The aim is to establish networks of stakeholders and initiate an adapted management process where necessary.
In addition, residents can find detailed profiles of wild animals on the wildlife portal of the State of Baden-Württemberg as well as general information with tips for good neighborly relations between humans and animals. Using the platform “Wilde Nachbarn Baden-Württemberg” (“Wild Neighbors Baden-Württemberg”), citizens can enter their wildlife observations and thus make a valuable contribution to wildlife research.