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Direct experience and attitude change towards bears and wolves
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science. (Arcum)
Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Umeå.
2015 (English)In: Wildlife Biology, ISSN 0909-6396, E-ISSN 1903-220X, Vol. 21, no 3, 131-137 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 21, no 3, 131-137 p.
National Category
Fish and Wildlife Management Other Social Sciences
Research subject
statskunskap
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-100507DOI: 10.2981/wlb.00062ISI: 000354319400003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-100507DiVA: diva2:792373
Available from: 2015-03-03 Created: 2015-03-03 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Changing attitudes to Swedish wolf policy: wolf return, rural areas, and political alienation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Changing attitudes to Swedish wolf policy: wolf return, rural areas, and political alienation
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In 1966, the grey wolf was listed as a protected species in Sweden. Since then, the Swedish wolf population has increased in size, making human-wolf encounters more common, particularly in rural areas. Previous qualitative research has shown that segments of the rural population perceive the wolf to be incompatible with traditional rural life. Some also believe that the return of the wolf was orchestrated by urban interests, and perceive the wolf policy as a vehicle for the consolidation of urban power in rural areas. Thus, the return of the wolf can be assumed to aggravate pre-existing urban-rural tensions, resulting in conflicts over wolf policy, which Swedish wolf governance could be ill-equipped to handle. In view of this, this thesis is an examination of,

how environmental, socio-political, and institutional factors affect varia-tions in public attitudes to the Swedish wolf policy over time, and discuss their policy implications.

Drawing on extensive survey material collected in Sweden in 2004, 2009, and 2014, the wolf policy is approached from a political science perspective. This thesis is an attempt to bridge a number of existing gaps in literature related to wolves and policy, individual and collective level explanatory factors, and attitude change. The underlying assumption is that environmental, socio-political and institutional factors are likely to impact attitudes to wolf policy. Environmental change is found to be relevant, as direct experiences with wolf have increased over time, a development that was also associated with an increase of support for a more restrictive wolf policy (Paper I). Regarding socio-political change, politically alienated individuals were less likely to support the current wolf policy, and more likely to favor either more, or less restrictive policy options compared to other individuals. Rural areas displayed higher levels of political alienation than urban areas, and people living in rural areas were more likely to favor a more restrictive wolf policy (Paper II). Furthermore, individuals living in municipalities in which a high proportion of residents had grown up in a rural area, tended to favor a more restrictive wolf policy, an effect which could also be associated with political alienation (Paper III). Finally, institutional change was examined through an analysis of public support for the actors within the Wildlife Management Delegations (WMDs). In general, the interest groups represented in WMDs where found to reflect the representation preferred by the public. However, findings show a fundamental value divide in relation to natural resources, among the Swedish public, which is also reflected within the WMDs (Paper IV).

The return of the wolf has caused part of the general public to want fewer wolves in Sweden. This attitudinal change is related to a growing divide between urban-rural areas in Sweden, and associated with a general pattern of political alienation. Thus, the wolf policy has become a symbolic issue around which rural citizens rally their fight against urban interests for political autonomy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2016. 62 p.
Series
Statsvetenskapliga institutionens skriftserie, ISSN 0349-0831 ; 2016:4
Keyword
attitude change, political alienation, urban-rural conflict, governance, wolf policy
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
statskunskap
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-128861 (URN)978-91-7601-632-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-01-20, Hörsal C, Lindellhallen, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-12-21 Created: 2016-12-16 Last updated: 2017-01-24Bibliographically approved

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