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Researchers: Include data about societal values in endangered species decisions
Date:12/6/2010

ildlife Service gave adequate consideration to available social science data in its assessment.

In the few studies that have evaluated attitudes about wolves over time, Bruskotter and colleagues noted that findings are mixed on the subject. And the only study cited by the Fish and Wildlife Service in its ruling concluded that attitudes about wolves had been "stable over the last 30 years," which contradicts the agency's own contention that attitudes had improved over this time period.

A news media content analysis that Bruskotter co-authored, published in September, suggests that public discourse about wolves in the United States and Canada became increasingly negative from 1999 to 2008, and, according to Bruskotter, subsequent analyses suggested coverage in the northern Rockies was more negative than in any other region.

Under the Endangered Species Act, federal agencies monitor species for at least five years after they are delisted, but state wildlife agencies take over management. While the Fish and Wildlife Service suggested that returning wolves to state management would foster support for the wolves, an Idaho survey cited by Bruskotter suggests powerful stakeholders in the state -- big game hunters and livestock producers -- "are motivated to kill as many wolves as possible without returning wolves to federal protections," according to the researchers.

Finally, the researchers question state managers' ability to "balance negative attitudes" about wolves when state legislatures that exert authority over wildlife management have "evidenced clear hostility toward wolves," Bruskotter said. They cited several recent legislative actions by states in the northern Rockies that call for the removal of wolves.

The researchers conclude that the Fish and Wildlife Service's analysis about threats to wolves was guided by three faulty assumptions: that attitudes toward wolves are improving; that management of wolves by state ag
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Contact: Jeremy Bruskotter
bruskotter.9@osu.edu
614-247-2118
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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