Date of Award
Master of Science
Natural Resource Ecology and Management
Rebecca A. Christoffel
It is increasingly necessary for state agencies to incorporate the opinions of their constituents in wildlife management decision-making. Shifting demographics of Iowa's human population necessitate gathering information on stakeholders' beliefs and values toward wildlife. This project was implemented to establish baseline information regarding the distribution of WVOs held by Iowa's citizenry, identify areas of dissonance between the public and agency staff, and elucidate issues of state agency credibility. The goal is to provide information that will be helpful in implementation and operationalization of the Iowa Wildlife Action Plan (IWAP). The public was surveyed through a statewide self-administered mail questionnaire (n = 5,400) and an online questionnaire was used to solicit responses from employees of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' Conservation and Recreation Division (n = 611). We classified individuals into one of four wildlife value orientations (WVOs) based on their beliefs and attitudes towards wildlife: Utilitarian, Mutualistic, Pluralistic, and Distanced. We found significant differences between state agency staff and the public in the distribution of WVOs and we demonstrated that the public believes the IDNR to be more credible than was predicted by the IDNR employees. We demonstrated the utility of the gathered information by applying our knowledge of the public's WVOs to understand preferred responses to possible conflicts associated with the presence of a potentially recolonizing large predator in Iowa, supporting our assertion that understanding how citizens think of and value wildlife can help state agencies make better informed decisions as to preferred and acceptable management of wildlife.
Andrew L. Stephenson
Stephenson, Andrew L., "Assessment of wildlife value orientations, state agency credibility, and tolerance for mountain lions in Iowa" (2013). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 13239.