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Previous research on human fear of large carnivores has mainly been based on self-reports in which individual survey items and the objects of fear are measured, so whether a person fears attacks on humans or livestock and pets has not been identified. The objectives of this study were to differentiate between the objects of fear as well as capturing attitudes towards implementation of management actions and the potential for conflict index (PCI). These concern the implementation of a limited number of management actions currently used or discussed in Sweden that are aimed at reducing human fear of brown bears/wolves. 391 persons living in areas with either brown bear (n = 198) or wolf (n = 193) in Sweden responded to a questionnaire. The degree of self-reported fear varied between residents in brown bear areas and residents in wolf areas. The fear of attacks on livestock and pets was stronger than fear of attacks on humans in both brown bear and wolf areas. In brown bear areas, fear was strongest for livestock, while in wolf areas fear was strongest for pets. The fear of attacks on livestock and pets was significantly stronger in wolf areas, while the fear of attacks on humans was strongest in brown bear areas. In both brown bear and wolf areas, there was little acceptance of implementation of management actions that would allow people to carry pepper spray or a gun outdoors. Management actions aimed at setting a population cap for bear/wolf populations, information on how to act when encountering a bear/wolf, and providing information on local presence of bear/wolf had relatively high acceptability. This was especially true for respondents expressing high fear of attacks on humans.
Understanding how changes in the sizes of large carnivore populations affect the attitudes of the public is vital in order to mitigate social conflicts over large carnivore management issues. Using data from two Swedish postal surveys in 2004 and 2009, we examined the probable social effects of a continued increase in the Swedish populations of bear and wolf by comparing levels of direct experience of bears and wolves with public attitudes towards these animals. We report an increase in direct experience of bears and wolves, lower levels of acceptance of the existence of these animals, and a lower degree of support for the policy goals of both species in 2009 compared to 2004. We also find that these changes are more prominent in areas with local carnivore populations than in other areas of Sweden. Our results imply that attitudes towards bears and wolves are likely to become more negative as populations continue to grow. The uneven distributions of the carnivore populations are likely to generate more frequent social conflicts in the future as they could cause an increase in the attitudinal divide between those members of the Swedish public who have had direct experiences of carnivores and those who have not.
The return of the grey wolf Canis lupus lupus, after a temporary absence, to rural and forest-fringe areas has resulted in more encounters between humans and protected wildlife when wolves prey on farmers' and hunters' living private property. In locations where wolves are considered problematic, permits can be issued for the controlled hunting of individual wolves to protect livestock and companion animals and prevent damage. I examine applications for the targeted removal of problematic wolves in Sweden through lethal control, and authorities' decisions regarding controlled hunting. The empirical basis of the paper is a content analysis of applications for and decisions regarding controlled hunting. The data concern three counties in middle Sweden, with 2002–2010 as the study period. I analyse 1) the applicants' stated reasons for applying for controlled hunting and 2) the authorities' rationales for rejecting or approving these applications. My aim is to identify the aspirations, desires, and motives evident in these texts.
In investigating controlled hunting applications and decisions, the paper applies anthropological perspectives on ecosystem management, place and landscape, and decision-making, and the results illustrate the underlying framing of the reasons favouring lethal removal. We encounter a layered reflexive communication of intentions and beliefs regarding the goals and interests that should guide state action to manage wolves demonstrating ‘transgressive’ and ‘unnatural’ behaviour threatening the local social and cultural environment. Perceptions diverge regarding how best to understand the natural landscape and how such understandings are embodied in applications and decisions regarding the targeted removal of wolves.
A new structure for decision-making in relation to management of large carnivores is presently being implemented in Sweden through a system of regional Wildlife Management Delegations (WMD). The governing idea is that strengthened regional influence will increase the legitimacy of both the management system and its outcomes. We use this institutional change as a backdrop for analyzing the possibilities to apply deliberative practices to reduce conflict and enhance legitimacy in the management of natural resources. We argue that structures alone do not determine the prospects of deliberative arrangements; the political context (i.e. the characteristics and relationships among participating actors) is equally important. An analytical framework is proposed that merges structural prospects for deliberation in co-management with stakeholder features, capturing the interests and beliefs of the actors involved. We illustrate the application of this framework by analysing original data from three Wildlife Management Delegations. Our findings show that there are significant differences in the beliefs among the actors within the system. Based on similarities in their beliefs, they can potentially form a relatively strong anti-carnivore/pro-WMD-coalition, opposing the pro-carnivore/anti-WMD-beliefs of the nature conservation interest. Furthermore, the structure is designed to meet vital deliberative criteria, yet we point at substantial differences between statutory and effective representation that, as it coincides with diverging beliefs, can affect decision-making. One qualitative criterion for successful deliberation stands out in our study — reasoned debate. The prospects for deliberation in WMDs to reduce conflict levels among opposing interests seem to depend on the capacity for ensuring exchange of reasonable and informed arguments.
Although wolf recolonization can be considered a success in terms of population increase and geographical dispersal, the return of grey wolves Canis lupus to rural central Sweden has caused frustration and discontent among local stakeholders. Farmers and hunters living in — or adjacent to — wolf territories perceive the political decision to support wolf recovery as intruding on local lives and restricting opportunities for small-scale farming and hunting. They feel that decision-makers have left the consequences of wolf recovery policies unaddressed. To overcome the failure of previous policies and increase local consensus, in October 2009 the Swedish parliament passed a resolution concerning the introduction of licensed hunting on wolves as a measure expected to promote local acceptance and facilitate dialogue among different parties. In doing so, the Parliament delegated to the regional authorities the responsibility to organize, coordinate and implement licensed hunting in the administrative counties concerned.
According to Swedish wolf hunting regulations, the regional authorities are to be involved not only in the achievement of primary policy goals, but are also expected to overcome antagonism and conflict through collaboration. Questioning the normative idea which suggests that public managers are expected simply to implement national legislation at the local level, this paper argues that managers create practices and establish routines that enable them to cope with problems related to the realization of collaborative management. Through a combination of participant observations and semi-structured interviews conducted with authorities and field-staff in four administrative counties during the implementation of licensed hunting, this paper concludes that in order to understand how collaborative management of natural resources works, greater attention has to be directed to the way public managers organize their activities, how they cope with their mandate and how they themselves relate to networks of actors.
Modern management of natural resources is guided by the normative theory of adaptive management (AM). Behind this theory lies a strong, albeit implicit, expectation that organisations aiming for AM have the capacity to communicate in a way that facilitates the required coordination of the knowledge perspectives involved. The aim of this article is to discuss the extent to which the communication practice of Swedish game management organisations facilitates coordination of knowledge corresponding to AM. Based on operationalizations of communicative rationality and agonistic pluralism, we use the concepts ‘discursive closure’ and ‘discursive opening’ to investigate how the coordination of knowledge is carried out through communication in relatively recently established organisations, the Swedish Game Management Delegations (GMDs). We analyse four communication episodes from GMD meetings and notice that multiple perspectives were expressed (discourse openings) but were not evaluated in a communicative rational way before being closed. The consequences of these closures were that knowledge perspectives with potential relevance, but with unclear validity for game management, were not elaborated upon, in terms of their truth, intelligibility, legitimacy or sincerity, which inhibited AM. The concepts of discursive closure and discursive opening proved useful for investigating communicative capacity. An important question which needs to be addressed to improve communicative capacity for AM is whether it would be practically possible to keep to the agenda and rules of the GMD meetings and still admit discursive openings about differences in perspectives.
Overseeing the continued recovery, dispersal and management of large carnivore populations while simultaneously considering human viability and welfare requires delicately balancing local concerns for rural communities' livelihood prospects and property vulnerability with international concerns for saving threatened species. In this article, we propose an integrated analytical perspective to elucidate how competing interests and power relationships influence the governance and management of contested wildlife resources. However, simply identifying these patterns is not enough. It is also imperative that the interrelationships between broader biophysical, social, political, economic, and cultural contexts and histories be explored in order to describe, analyze and better understand how and why individual and collective responses vary. In doing this, we drew from findings from a variety of social science disciplines (environmental communication, environmental psychology, human ecology, human geography, political science, public administration and social anthropology) and, here, present how social science approaches can enhance understanding of the different layers and contexts of contested natural resource management. Highlighting the individual, socio-cultural, political and institutional dimensions, the article concludes by identifying five recurrent concepts that must be understood and consciously applied to large carnivore governance and management: 1) establishment of trust between people and groups interacting on the subject; 2) fair representation of stakeholder interests; 3) acknowledgement of the different knowledge-spheres, including those based on personal experiences, culture and tradition, and science; 4) communication, based on dialogue about pluralistic perspectives, to collectively formulate and agree on set goals; and 5) leadership emphasising empowerment.