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1 September 2010 Can Public Meetings Accurately Reflect Public Attitudes Toward Wildlife Management?
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State wildlife agencies often use input obtained through public meetings to develop management policies. Because public meetings can be dominated by single stakeholder groups, these policies may not reflect the attitudes of new wildlife stakeholders. In 2000 the Utah Wildlife Board, after a series of public meetings, adopted a statewide policy for winter-feeding mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus). The policy was implemented by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources from 2001 to 2007 in Cache County of northern Utah, USA. In 2007, we surveyed Utah households representing metropolitan, nonmetropolitan, and Cache County residents (n  =  1,800) to evaluate whether the winter-feeding policy reflected the attitudes of all wildlife stakeholders. Survey respondents, regardless of residence strata, believed winter-feeding programs were essential for managing mule deer in Utah (χ26  =  7.02, P  =  0.32). However, most respondents were reluctant to support feeding programs at the expense of habitat restoration projects (χ26  =  11.64, P  =  0.07). Our results suggest that the winter-feeding policy represented the attitudes of the Utah residents surveyed, though few had participated in its development. Respondents' strong utilitarian attitudes toward wildlife (e.g., strong support for hunting and feeding) influenced those respondents' perceptions of the policy. Given the effects of increased urbanization on utilitarian attitudes toward wildlife in many parts of the United States, coupled with decreasing numbers of traditional wildlife stakeholders, state wildlife agencies should continually reevaluate their public involvement processes to ensure new wildlife stakeholders' attitudes and concerns are represented.

Christine C. Peterson and Terry A. Messmer "Can Public Meetings Accurately Reflect Public Attitudes Toward Wildlife Management?," Journal of Wildlife Management 74(7), 1588-1594, (1 September 2010).
Published: 1 September 2010

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