Urban kittiwakes: victims, villains or heroes? Local news framing of novel human-wildlife conflict in Norway
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This study examines the frames used by Tromsø news outlets in articles about urban black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla). In just seven years, the urban population of kittiwakes in this Norwegian coastal city grew from zero to around 800 individuals, sparking hundreds of news articles on conflicts between birds and people. The coverage was characterized by frequent identification of kittiwakes more broadly as seagulls. Mixed-methods frame analysis of relevant articles uncovered three primary frames: hero, victim and villain. Stories about urban kittiwakes primarily used the villain frame, but use of the name “kittiwake” instead of “seagull” was associated with more positive framing. The number of articles published correlated closely with the number of kittiwake nests in the city centre. Non-kittiwake seagulls were also framed more negatively and featured more often in news articles after kittiwakes arrived. The arrival of kittiwakes in Tromsø presents a unique opportunity to study how local media create and modify the framing of wildlife conflict, and how existing frames for a broader group, like seagulls, are affected by the arrival of a new species.