Hunters' behavior change preferences and perceived risk of tuberculosis and brucellosis infection from bison in canada
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University of Calgary Canada
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1793
Background and Objectives:
Although Canada is officially free of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) and brucellosis, wood bison in Wood Buffalo National Park are a known reservoir of these and other zoonotic diseases. Several issues complicate the situation: wood bison are a threatened species; the species is an important cultural and food resource for indigenous communities; and the zoonotic diseases pose an economic and public health risk. As part of a larger project, we wanted to know if hunters would change behavior based on proximity to infected bison.

We investigated potential influences on Alberta hunters’ stated willingness to change (WTC) their hunting practices in response to a hypothetical case of a zoonosis in a species they hunt. We anticipated significant predictors would include demographics, risk perceptions, and knowledge of zoonoses. A questionnaire link was distributed to 100,000 hunters in Alberta exploring opinions on managing wood bison health; 139 useable responses were evaluated. Hunters’ were asked how close an animal infected with bTB or brucellosis could be before hunters would change hunting practices. Risk awareness was calculated as an aggregated score from questions addressing bTB and brucellosis impact on health and economic livelihood; knowledge was similarly based on questions evaluating knowledge of bTB and brucellosis.

Results of multiple variable linear regression models show significant predictors of WTC (p<0.05) include income, knowledge of brucellosis and tuberculosis, and threats to hunting opportunities. Age and education were not significant predictors.

Discussion and Conclusions:
Although hunters show WTC practices, they were not as sensitive to risk of zoonoses as we expected. Part of the reason may be a false sense of ability to recognize a bTB+ve animal without laboratory confirmation. Our research provides important findings addressing potential policy support that engages hunters in wildlife conservation and their willingness to engage in the particular supportive behaviors.

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