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Understanding the Diversity of Public Interests in Wildlife Conservation

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Abstract: 

North American state wildlife agencies are increasingly faced with the challenge of effectively representing a diverse public. With increasing social conflict over wildlife issues, the future of wildlife conservation hinges on preparedness of the profession to respond to this challenge. In the interest of finding ways to improve response, 19 agencies in the western U.S. joined forces to initiate an investigation that would provide a better understanding of the diversity of wildlife-related interests in the region. Specific objectives, accomplished through use of a mail survey administered in 2004, were to categorize people on the basis of their value orientations toward wildlife and explore how different groups were distributed across states and to examine differences on sociodemographic characteristics and attitudes toward wildlife-related topics among groups. The focus was on two orientations: domination (view of wildlife that prioritizes human well-being over wildlife and treats wildlife in utilitarian terms); and mutualism (view of wildlife as capable of relationships of trust with humans and defined by a desire for companionship with wildlife). Four types of people were identified on the basis of these orientations. Types differed in their geographic distribution and wildlife-related attitudes and behaviors, revealing how value orientations can form the foundation for conflict on wildlife issues. Our characterizations of stakeholder groups offer a framework that can be applied over time and across geographic scales to improve conservation planning efforts and inform broader thinking about the social aspects of wildlife conservation.
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Keywords: actitudes; attitudes; conflict; conflicto; dimensiones humanas; human dimensions; orientaciĆ³n de valores; valores; value orientations; values; vida silvestre; wildlife

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1480, U.S.A.

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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