America's Shifting Wildlife Values are Affecting the Trajectory of Wildlife Management in the U.S.

Wed, March 6, 2019, 10:00 am - Wed, March 6, 2019, 12:00 pm
Plaza Ballroom D

Fish and wildlife agencies face rising social conflict and unprecedented scrutiny. Issues such as declining hunter participation, public controversy over wildlife management actions, disagreement over human-wildlife conflict and diminishing funding pose growing challenges.

The America’s Wildlife Values study explores the concept that these issues have emerged as a result of the shifting social context in the United States. The effort uses data from three sources: the 2004 Wildlife Values in the West survey (n = 12,673 respondents, 19 states), the 2018 national wildlife values survey (43,949 respondents, 50 states), and the 2018 agency culture survey (n = 9,770 respondents, 28 states). The study is built on a systems model that proposes modernization after World War II changed the social-ecological context that in turn affected people’s awareness of and experience with wildlife.

Combined with an expansion of anthropomorphic tendencies, this gave rise to mutualist values and a shift away from more traditional utilitarian values toward wildlife. This shift has a critical effect on attitudes toward wildlife-related issues and, we propose, will ultimately have an effect on the character of fish and wildlife agencies.

This session breaks down the components of the study. Individual presentations will provide overviews of: the theory of social value change; the methods and methodological issues in data collection; the current composition of wildlife values in the U.S. and effects on attitudes; longitudinal trends of value shift; and the apparent effect of value shift on agency culture. The session will conclude with a panel discussion of the implications of these findings for the future of wildlife management.

Session Co-Chairs: Michael J. Manfredo, Professor and Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department Head, Colorado State University; Tara Teel, Professor, Colorado State University