Identity-Driven Differences in Stakeholder Concerns about Hunting Wolves
- Published: December 02, 2014
- DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114460
AbstractWhereas past wolf management in the United States was restricted to recovery, managers must now contend with publicly contentious post-recovery issues including regulated hunting seasons. Understanding stakeholder concerns associated with hunting can inform stakeholder engagement, communication, and policy development and evaluation. Social identity theory (SIT) has been used to understand how groups interact, why they conflict, and how collaboration may be achieved. Applying SIT to stakeholder conflicts about wolf hunting may help delineate groups according to their concern about, support for or opposition to the policy choice of hunting wolves. Our objective was to assess concerns about hunting as a tool to resolve conflict in Michigan, using SIT as a framework. We used a mixed-modal sampling approach (e.g., paper, Internet) with wolf hunting-related public meeting participants in March 2013. Survey questions focused on 12 concerns previously identified as associated with hunting as a management tool to resolve conflict. Respondents (n = 666) cared greatly about wolves but were divided over hunting wolves. Wolf conflicts, use of science in policy decisions, and maintaining a wolf population were the highest ranked concerns. Principle components analysis reduced concerns into three factors that explained 50.7% of total variance; concerns crystallized over justifications for hunting. General linear models revealed a lack of geographic influence on care, fear and support for hunting related to wolves. These findings challenge assumptions about regional differences and suggest a strong role for social identity in driving dichotomized public perceptions in wildlife management.
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