Beyond wolves, however, there are other human factors at play.
"Risks that relate to humans range from direct killing of animals to a municipality encouraging development in areas where species are sensitive," Bruskotter said. "The Fish and Wildlife Service will look at direct impacts, or the proximate cause of species decline. They don't often step back and consider what lies behind those causes. And that's one of the things we're saying they need to do."
The researchers noted that they are not suggesting that the Fish and Wildlife Service should cede control of decisions to "public whims," but instead say they advocate for the use of information about values and attitudes of affected human populations to inform policy decisions.
That said, however, they assert that human attitudes may be as critical to some species' sustained recovery as biological factors such as species population size, birth rates and reproductive success.
Bruskotter also noted that he sympathizes with the Fish and Wildlife Service because it is "hammered from every angle. This is not a condemnation of their action. It's meant to be forward thinking -- to provide a roadmap for how to incorporate social science information into future endangered species decisions."
The researchers conclude, "It is time for the Fish and Wildlife Service to expand its view of what constitutes 'science' and fully incorporate the social sciences into listing decisions."
|Contact: Jeremy Bruskotter|
Ohio State University