Human Dimensions Considerations in Wildlife Disease Management

April 01, 2020

USGS Field Manual of Wildlife Diseases: Chapter 8 of Section C, Techniques in Disease Surveillance and Investigation Book 15

In 1943, Aldo Leopold observed that the real problem of wildlife management is not how to handle wildlife, but how to manage humans. As with any other aspect of wildlife management, social sciences can improve understanding the human dimensions of wildlife disease management (WDM). Human activities have accelerated the emergence of wildlife diseases, and human concerns about the ecological, social, and economic impacts of wildlife diseases and their management have led to diseases becoming headline-worthy public issues. This chapter provides guidance to help front-line professionals understand and address the public’s perspectives and behaviors relevant to WDM. This chapter focuses on practical needs of wildlife disease managers who have to consider and interact with specific stakeholders and the broader public. The chapter does not dive deeply into social science; instead it briefly reviews some concepts that are most relevant to WDM. The chapter also suggests where to look for assistance and additional resources for further reading. Following brief introductory comments, the chapter is organized around a simple model of the general process for WDM. It addresses three key areas where social science can assist in WDM—audience research to understand stakeholders; engaging stakeholders in wildlife disease management; and using risk communication about wildlife diseases and disease management to inspire risk-wise behavior


Leong KM, Decker DJ. 2020. Human Dimensions Considerations in Wildlife Disease Management. In: Richgels KLD, Gibbs SEJ, Wild MA, editors. U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods 15-C8.  https://doi.org/10.3133/tm15C8.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 04/24/2020