November 3, 2017
Colorado State University
A cultural backlash stemming from the rise of populism may limit opportunities for state fish and wildlife agencies to adapt to changing social values in the United States.
Researchers at Colorado State University and The Ohio State University have found that a cultural backlash stemming from the rise of populism may limit opportunities for state fish and wildlife agencies to adapt to changing social values in the United States. The team reached this conclusion by analyzing more than 12,000 surveys from 19 states and studying ballot initiatives related to hunting.
Based on the new study, researchers found that in states with the largest change in social values, individuals who held traditional values had lower levels of trust in the state wildlife agency. In contrast to traditional values, in which people believe wildlife exists for their benefit, the researchers describe an emerging set of values, in which wildlife and humans are seen as part of a connected social community, as mutualism.
In the case of human-wildlife conflict, traditionalists would be more likely to support lethal wildlife control methods while mutualists would be more supportive of restrictions on humans.
“With a growing proportion of mutualists in a state, traditionalists begin to lose trust in the state’s fish and wildlife agency,” said Michael Manfredo, lead author on the paper and head of CSU’s Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources. “Based on our research, wildlife agencies, which focus on statewide mandates, increasingly engage with people who are mutualists, looking for common ground, and the traditionalists would feel this challenges their influence in policymaking.”
The team found a growth in ballot initiatives to protect hunting rights from 2000 to 2016, in contrast with the number of ballot initiatives from the previous decade that sought to restrict certain hunting and trapping practices. Researchers said this indicates a culutural backlash that they predict will intensify conflicts over wildlife management and may constrain institutional change. Wildlife management agencies may need to explore new models of governance that encompass diverse values, the study authors said. Continue reading