Assessing Illinois Residents’ Support for Natural Recolonization of Apex Predators
Understanding sources of difference in public attitudes toward wildlife is critical for the design of effective policy instruments. In this article we explored the role of wildlife value orientations and stakeholder group membership (general public versus agricultural producers) in shaping residents support for the natural recolonization of apex predators (black bear, cougar, gray wolf), in Illinois, USA. Results demonstrate differences in attitudes toward recolonization as a function of residents’ basic beliefs about the human-wildlife relationship and stakeholder group membership. Results revealed varying degrees of opposition and/or antipathy toward recolonization of apex predators across wildlife values types and stakeholder groups. Individuals that were identified to hold utilitarian beliefs about wildlife (traditionalist orientation) and agricultural producers were found to exhibit the most negative attitudes toward natural recolonization, compared to individuals that believe wildlife have intrinsic rights (mutualist orientation) or members of the general public. Individuals’ attitudes toward the recolonization of black bears were found to differ according to their wildlife value orientations, stakeholder group membership, and the combination of the two factors.
KeywordsWildlife value orientations Attitudes toward predators Natural recolonization Wildlife management
We would like to thank management staff from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, especially D. Dufford and M.G. Alessi for their support for this project. We thank L.K. Campbell for leading data collection efforts, and numerous students for their contributions in data entry. We would also like to acknowledge two anonymous reviewers whose input helped to shape this manuscript.
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