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Wednesday, January 31 • 11:10am - 11:20am
LIGHTING TALK: Understanding Attitudes Towards Controversial Subjects in Wildlife Management: How Students View Regulated Commercial Harvest

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AUTHORS. Cady Sartini, Janel Sharhag, Sara Fischer - University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

ABSTRACT. Wildlife managers often struggle with finding socially acceptable methods of controlling overabundant wildlife in urban or suburban areas.  Urban deer herds pose a particular challenge for managers in areas where the public highly values the right to hunt deer, but recreational hunting may be precluded due to safety or other concerns.  Potential solutions to the growing urban deer problem have included a proposed regulated commercial harvest of white-tailed deer in selected areas.  Here, we report on an ongoing project using surveys and focus groups to understand how undergraduates in a wildlife management program view the controversy surrounding the concept of regulated commercial harvests of wildlife.  We are specifically investigating the role that a student’s personal background, such as number of years spent hunting deer or trapping furbearers, plays in the formation of student attitudes about controversial subjects.  Preliminary data analysis suggests students with stronger backgrounds in hunting deer have difficulty accepting regulated commercial harvest as a potential tool in urban deer management, no matter what evidence is presented in readings or open class discussions.  Understanding how the personal backgrounds of students may shape eventual attitudes regarding controversial subjects is critical to understanding which management options will prove acceptable to future managers as they attempt to solve the “wicked” wildlife problems of tomorrow.

Wednesday January 31, 2018 11:10am - 11:20am CST