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Conserv Biol. 2013 Apr;27(2):315-23. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12009. Epub 2013 Jan 7.

Longitudinal analysis of attitudes toward wolves.

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Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 550 North Park Street, Madison, WI 53706, U.S.A.


Understanding individual attitudes and how these predict overt opposition to predator conservation or direct, covert action against predators will help to recover and maintain them. Studies of attitudes toward wild animals rely primarily on samples of individuals at a single time point. We examined longitudinal change in individuals' attitudes toward gray wolves (Canis lupus). In the contiguous United States, amidst persistent controversy and opposition, abundances of gray wolves are at their highest in 60 years. We used mailed surveys to sample 1892 residents of Wisconsin in 2001 or 2004 and then resampled 656 of these individuals who resided in wolf range in 2009. Our study spanned a period of policy shifts and increasing wolf abundance. Over time, the 656 respondents increased agreement with statements reflecting fear of wolves, the belief that wolves compete with hunters for deer (Odocoileus virginianus), and inclination to poach a wolf. Endorsement of lethal control of wolves by the state and public hunting of wolves also increased. Neither the time span over which respondents reported exposure to wolves locally nor self-reported losses of domestic animals to wolves correlated with changes in attitude. We predict future increases in legal and illegal killing of wolves that may reduce their abundance in Wisconsin unless interventions are implemented to improve attitudes and behavior toward wolves. To assess whether interventions change attitudes, longitudinal studies like ours are needed. AnĂ¡lisis Longitudinal de las Actitudes Hacia Lobos.

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