The Groundwork For Public Participation In Cougar Management
As the subject of ongoing controversy in Oregon, this study explored public opinion about cougar management. The majority or respondents believed that major decisions about cougar management should be made by experts and citizens together.
Research suggests that wildlife conflicts are best addressed by incorporating public involvement strategies into wildlife management. Based on this survey of 360 households in southwestern Oregon, three types of people are most likely to be a part of the public involvement process. These include respondents who had prior experience with cougars, those who have concerns about cougars as a potential threat to people, pets, or farm animals, and those who did not trust wildlife managers to make the best possible decisions.
Other Major Findings:
- Most respondents were unlikely to take part in time-intensive forms of public involvement, although 70% expressed interest in participating at some level.
- Respondents appeared to imagine a division between where cougars should live and where most people should live.
- Making it legal to hunt cougars with dogs was the most divisive issue on the questionnaire, suggesting that this issue remains politically entrenched. Creating a longer cougar hunting season was the second most divisive issue.
- Respondents perceived that special interests have some of the greatest influence over the decision-making process.
- People with “mixed” attitudes toward lethal control were less likely to take part in the public involvement process.