African swine fever (ASF) has massively spread in recent years and threatens the global pig industry. ASF has been present in Latvia since 2014. Hunters play a major role in the implementation of measures to control ASF and in passive disease surveillance. The probability to detect an ASF-positive wild boar is much higher in animals found dead than in hunted animals. Thus, the willingness and the motivation of hunters to support passive surveillance is of utmost importance. Using participatory methods, this study aimed to assess the acceptability of control measures for ASF in wild boar among hunters. In addition, new approaches to increase hunters’ motivation to report wild boar found dead were investigated. A total of ten focus group discussions with hunters from different regions in Latvia were conducted. To assess the quantity and quality of contacts between hunters and stakeholders involved in the control of ASF, relation diagrams were used. Using ranking tools, the trust of the participants in stakeholders to implement control measures successfully was evaluated. Defined control measures were presented to the hunters and their acceptability investigated. An impact diagram and a list of defined motivation options for passive surveillance were offered to identify new ways to increase the willingness of hunters to support passive surveillance actively. A satisfactory and regular relationship was identified between the hunters, the Food and Veterinary Service (FVS) and the State Forest Service (SFS). The hunters’ trust in these authorities was high. Although there is no vaccine against ASF, hunters were convinced of the potential of vaccination in controlling ASF. However, building fences was considered as useless and ineffective. To increase the willingness of hunters to support passive surveillance, reducing the infection pressure in the forests was regarded as most motivating. Furthermore, hunters would appreciate a decrease in their costs and workload. The study provides new insight into the concerns and experiences of hunters. Including their views and expectations in the further design and implementation of control and surveillance activities may help to improve current efforts to control ASF in wild boar populations. Although representing the perceptions of Latvian hunters, the main conclusions may be adaptable to adjust ASF control and surveillance in other countries.Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Franz Josef Conraths