The Attitudes of Urban Residents on Encountering Animals in Cities


Urban environments are not just concrete jungles devoid of wildlife; they are their own ecosystems where humans and animals coexist. A recent study published in the Journal of Urban Ecology sheds light on how city residents perceive the presence of various animals in their immediate surroundings. T

he study provides valuable insights into urban residents ‘ attitudes towards wildlife and their preferred locations for encountering these creatures, conducted by researchers from the Technical University of Munich, the University of Jena, and the Vienna University of Technology.

The study surveyed Munich residents to gauge their opinions on 32 different urban animal species and where they would prefer to encounter them within the city. Results revealed that while most animals received positive approval ratings, preferences varied significantly depending on the species and the location.

Among the most favored urban animals were squirrels and ladybugs, while martens, rats, wasps, slugs, and urban pigeons were less welcomed. Cockroaches garnered the least popularity among respondents. Residents showed a neutral attitude towards ants, spiders, and snakes. These findings highlight the complexity of the relationship between city dwellers and urban wildlife.

One crucial insight from the study was the correlation between residents’ attitudes towards animals and their preferred locations for encountering them. Popular animals were typically placed closer to home by respondents, indicating a preference for more accepted and familiar species. This insight underscores the importance of considering public perceptions and preferences in urban planning and wildlife Conservation efforts.

Prof. Wolfgang Weisser, head of the Chair of Terrestrial Ecology, emphasizes the need to integrate knowledge about human attitudes towards animals into urban development strategies. By understanding where people prefer or dislike certain animals, planners can anticipate potential points of conflict and design interventions that promote both biodiversity and social acceptance.

The study also revealed that urban parks are generally well-accepted locations for encountering wildlife, suggesting that measures to promote biodiversity in these areas are likely to be met with approval. Conversely, wildlife Conservation efforts in immediate residential spaces, such as balconies or gardens, may face resistance from residents.

This article by Trinity Sparke was first published by One Green Planet on 12 May 2024. Image Credit :Gallinago_media/Shutterstock.

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