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A Quantitative Summary of Attitudes toward Wolves and Their Reintroduction (1972-2000)

Christopher K. Williams, Göran Ericsson and Thomas A. Heberlein
Wildlife Society Bulletin (1973-2006)
Vol. 30, No. 2 (Summer, 2002), pp. 575-584
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3784518
Page Count: 10
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A Quantitative Summary of Attitudes toward Wolves and Their Reintroduction (1972-2000)
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Abstract

This paper reports an analysis of support for wolves (Canis spp.) reported in 38 quantitative surveys conducted between 1972 and 2000. Of 109 records reported in these surveys, a majority (51%) showed positive attitudes toward wolves and 60% supported wolf restoration. Attitudes toward wolves had a negative correlation with age, rural residence, and ranching and farming occupations, and positive correlation with education and income. Thirty-five percent of ranchers and farmers surveyed had positive attitudes toward wolves. Among surveys of the general population samples, 61% expressed positive attitudes. Surveys of environmental and wildlife groups showed an average of 69% support. Surveys in the lower 48 states showed higher proportions of positive attitudes than surveys in Scandinavia and Western Europe, where a majority did not support wolves. Among all surveys, 25% of respondents had neutral attitudes toward wolves. Positive attitudes toward wolves did not appear to be increasing over time. Because attitudes toward wolves are often not strong among the general public, they have the potential to change rapidly if linked to other, stronger attitudes and beliefs. We expect that progress in education and urbanization will lead to increasingly positive attitudes over time. Negative attitudes associated with age are probably a cohort effect, and we should not expect the aging populations in the United States and Europe to lead to more negative wolf attitudes. Paradoxically, successful wolf reintroductions are likely to reduce general positive sentiment, since the presence of wolves gives people a more balanced experience with the animals. Traditionally, people with the most positive attitudes toward wolves have been those with the least experience.

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