Focus Group Interviewing for Human Dimensions of Wildlife Research

We investigated the usefulness of focus groups, an interview methodology, in human dimensions research. We used a focus group to interview people interested in wildlife conservation to determine the technique's efficacy in assessing public perception of wildlife habitat management on electric transmission line rights-of-way (ROWs). Most respondents had some basic knowledge of wildlife habitat needs and considered ROWs as potentially useful to wildlife. Respondents were concerned about the use of herbicides and generally preferred mechanical treatments. There was considerable distrust of information generated via government chemical approval processes, private company research, and popular media. While additional groups are needed to fully assess the range of attitudes this and other publics hold on this subject, our results suggest that focus groups can be an effective tool for baseline public perception of wildlife studies or as a precursor to quantitative surveys.

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