Why Are Public Values Toward Wildlife Changing?
This paper examines the shift in values toward wildlife among U.S. residents, away from management and use for human benefit. The change is most likely related to increasing affluence, education, and urbanization, as well as declining residential stability.
Wildlife professionals generally believe there has been a shift in public values toward wildlife over the last fifty years, most notably away from traditional values that stress the use and management of wildlife for human benefit. This paper summarizes a research program designed to examine this value orientation shift in the United States by examining the relationship between societal factors and interstate differences in values toward wildlife.
Value orientations are a characteristic of an individual’s belief structure. Two basic wildlife value orientations were identified including a protection-use orientation and a wildlife appreciation orientation. These are useful in predicting hunting, fishing and wildlife-viewing participation and are also strongly associated with people’s attitudes toward wildlife management proposals.
Increasing wealth and education, and declining residential stability appear to drive value shift. As these demographic factors change, there is a shift away from traditional Materialist values toward Post-Materialist values, and researchers predict that it is these changes that initiate the shift away from the traditional wildlife value orientation of use and management for human benefit.
In summary, the proportion of “traditionalists” within a state is strongly and inversely related to income, urbanization, and education, and positively related to residential stability.