Killing Carp (Cyprinus carpio) as a Volunteer Practice: implications for community involvement in invasive species management and policy
Community engagement is understood to be one of the keys to successful environmental programs¿¿the social pillar¿ of management. In this paper we examine community engagement where volunteers participate by killing invasive animals. Most research to date focuses on the biological or management implications of volunteer efforts for the invasive species, with little attention to the people involved or the social acceptability of killing animals in this context. Here, we report on a survey and participant observations of community fishing events in south-eastern Australia, where volunteers fish for and kill carp (Cyprinus carpio). We examine who takes part in these events, their motivations for being involved and the implications for ongoing community engagement. Survey respondents were predominantly well-educated Australian-born men, motivated to fish by a desire to spend time in nature. However, we also noted a strong response from overseas-born men with different motivations. Our survey elicited complex responses regarding killing, illustrating contradictory, sometimes conflicted experiences, which jar with personal motivations. The implications are that questions of ethics must extend to the human volunteers, and that more direct communication of program outcomes and the proposed benefits for volunteers be more rigorously assessed. We argue that invasive species management must contend with the experiences of volunteers, otherwise meaningful dialogue and program objectives risk being undermined.