Tara L. Teel
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A Foundation for Conflict: Wildlife Values in the West
Tara L. Teel, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Western states are going through a number of changes that have affected and will continue to affect natural resource management. Changes include population growth, changes in in-migration rates and land ownership patterns, increasing income and education levels, growth in technology, and urbanization. Using data from 12 a long-term research program entitled Wildlife Values in the West this talk will explore how some of these broad societal forces are shaping the composition of public values toward wildlife throughout the western region. Wildlife Values in the West is a project of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Human Dimensions Committee. It is a collaborative regional effort involving social science researchers from Colorado State University and representatives from participating state fish and wildlife agencies. Data for the first phase of this program, completed in 2005, were collected through administration of a mail survey to a sample of residents in 19 states (n = 12,673). Results and related implications from this 19-state effort will be discussed, including the impacts value shift may have on public acceptance of wildlife management strategies and on demand for participation in wildlife-related recreation activities. Findings provide a broad context to assist natural resource agencies in better understanding diverse publics and planning for the future of wildlife conservation in the west. Highlights of results from recent follow-up investigations will also be touched upon briefly to convey how values information, when collected in a spatially-explicit manner at finer degrees of resolution and paired with biological data, can offer a useful tool for managers attempting to deal with conservation challenges and public education at more local levels.