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Public Attitudes Toward Wolves in Wisconsin

Public Attitudes Toward Wolves in Wisconsin

Authors: Robert Holsman, Natalie Kaner, Jordan Petchenik and David MacFarland of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Presentation given at 2015 Midwest Wolf Stewards Conference at Northland College. April 2015

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  1. Public Attitudes towards Wolves in Wisconsin Robert Holsman, Natalie Kaner,

    Jordan Petchenik & David MacFarland
  2. Statewide Mail Survey (Feb-Apr 2014) • Objective: To document public

    attitudes toward wolves and wolf management to inform Wolf Management Plan • Scientific approach to public opinion:  Large sample (n-8,750) (59% response rate)  Random selection of households  Rigorously tested questionnaire
  3. • Wolf range clusters grouped by similar: – wolf densities

    – human densities – land use • “Non-range” (12) – No known packs P. 10
  4. Finding #1: Attitudes about wolves • State residents held attitudes

    toward wolves that were more favorable than unfavorable – by a small margin within wolf range – and by a larger margin outside wolf range. • A relatively high percentage of respondents had neither favorable nor unfavorable feelings toward wolves p. 24
  5. Overall, how would you describe your feelings about wolves? 22

    22 24 16 16 29 26 31 10 4 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 Very favorable Favorable Neither Unfavorable Very unfavorable Frequency of response Non-Range Range
  6. 6 question attitude index Wolves are special animals that deserve

    our admiration. People and wolves should be able to co-exist. Predators like wolves keep nature in balance. The previous generations were right in eliminating wolves from the landscape. Wolves provide no benefits to people. Wolves are a nuisance for people.
  7. Attitude index score 0 2 4 6 8 10 12

    14 -12-11-10 -9 -8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Percent of respondents Attitude index score Wolf range Non-range (Average wolf range score: 2.5) (Average non-range score: 4.8)
  8. Mean scores on wolf attitude scale by sampling cluster p.

    83
  9. Finding #2: Population preferences • Most frequent response for residents

    in range and non-range was to maintain wolves near current levels – A high % of non-range were unsure – More people selected “more” wolves than “less” wolves, even in wolf range • Attitude indices predict population goal preferences at state and county scale
  10. Preferences for statewide wolf numbers 4 15 26 15 12

    11 17 6 21 29 8 6 3 28 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 Many more More Same Fewer Many fewer Zero Don't know Frequency of response (%) Range Non-Range p. 31
  11. “In which kinds of areas would you support allowing wolves

    to exist in WI?” 39 59 32 12 4 5 16 10 42 66 42 20 7 8 6 12 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 Anywhere Forested public land Forested private land Mix of forest and farms Farmland Rural areas Nowhere Not sure Frequency of support Types of areas Wolf range Non-wolf range
  12. Comparing respondents who want more, the same number of, or

    fewer wolves: “In which kinds of areas would you support allowing wolves to exist in WI?” 73 69 54 30 15 15 0 6 45 79 40 16 3 4 0 6 19 53 16 3 1 2 23 12 0 20 40 60 80 100 Anywhere Public forest Private forest Mix Farmland Rural areas Nowhere Not sure More Same Fewer p. 69
  13. 25 30 35 34 37 35 51 47 35 48

    26 57 56 53 53 45 48 40 42 52 42 61 0 20 40 60 80 Cluster 11 Cluster 10 Cluster 9 Cluster 8 Cluster 7 Cluster 6 Cluster 5 Cluster 4 Cluster 3 Cluster 2 Cluster 1 More/same Fewer
  14. Perceptions of wolf abundance in residents’ county 6 14 45

    18 17 0 10 20 30 40 50 Very abundant Abundant Present, but not abundant Rare/ very rare Don't know Frequency of response p. 37
  15. “In my county of residence, I would like to see

    the wolf population…” 13 40 18 15 14 0 10 20 30 40 50 Increased Maintained Decreased Eliminated Not sure Frequency of response p. 32
  16. Willingness to live near wolves 28 21 7 24 19

    0 5 10 15 20 25 30 Yes, absolutely Yes, maybe Not sure No, rather not Absolutely not Frequency of response
  17. Finding #3 Best Predictors Wolf attitudes Raised in Rural area

    Raised in Urban area Deer hunter Not a deer hunter + +
  18. Preferences for statewide population trends based on classification of residence

    Current residence Many more/ more About the same number of Fewer/ many fewer Zero Don’t know All rural 16 24 33 14 13 Raised urban/ live rural (exurbanites) 29 29 19 6 18 Raised rural/live rural 10 23 39 18 10 All towns 21 32 22 8 18 All urban 24 24 21 5 26 p. 43
  19. Influence of deer hunting participation on preferences for statewide wolf

    population goals Group Resides in… Many more/ more About the same Many fewer/ fewer Zero Don’t know Deer hunters Wolf range 8 16 48 23 6 Non-range 14 21 44 12 9 Non- hunters Wolf range 19 30 24 8 19 Non-range 27 31 12 2 29 p. 50
  20. “Because they are important members of the ecological community” Segment

    sample Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Deer hunters 41 19 41 Non-hunters 73 14 13 p. 49
  21. “To help keep deer in balance with their habitat” Segment

    sample Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Deer hunters 26 14 61 Non-hunters 62 18 20 p. 49
  22. Finding #4: Support for lethal control is context dependent •

    Majority support wolf hunting and trapping • Highest support for lethal control is tied to concern over threats to human safety and pets • Most do not support lethal control to counteract predation on deer, elk
  23. Majority support wolf harvest 62 21 17 Yes No Undecided

    51 27 22 Yes No Undecided Range Non-range p. 75
  24. Support or opposition to a regulated wolf harvest season 21

    17 40 26 27 23 25 30 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 Oppose wolf harvest Undecided Support for population reduction Support if sustainable Frecuency Range Non-range
  25. Support for options – in range Conflict type Management option

    Wildlife professionals kill individual wolves Landowner permits to kill individual wolves Wolf hunting and trapping season Oppose All Threats to human safety 59 40 29 9 Attacks on household pets 57 40 29 8 Attacks on livestock 47 64 30 6 Predation on deer 23 23 41 30 Predation on elk 39 21 36 19 Hunting dog deaths 30 30 28 30 p. 80-81
  26. Support for options – non-range Conflict type Management option Wildlife

    professionals kill individual wolves Landowner permits to kill individual wolves Wolf hunting and trapping season Oppose All Threats to human safety 59 29 21 13 Attacks on household pets 59 38 21 8 Attacks on livestock 45 56 21 8 Predation on deer 20 13 28 37 Predation on elk 38 15 28 21 Hunting dog deaths 34 23 18 28 p. 80-81
  27. Questions