Cultural, belief system data can inform gray wolf recovery efforts in the US

by Mary Guiden, Colorado State University

Humans regularly exert a powerful influence on the survival and persistence of species, yet social-science information is used only sporadically in conservation decisions.

Researchers at Colorado State University and The Ohio State University have created an index depicting the mix of social values among people across all 50 states, providing data that can be useful for wildlife conservation policy and management.

As a specific illustration, the research team found a supportive social context for gray wolf reintroduction in Colorado. Last fall, citizens in the state voted by ballot initiative to mandate the reintroduction of gray wolves. The data and maps in the study reveal that Colorado’s social environment is far more conducive to wolf recovery than states like Montana and Idaho, which currently have state legislative efforts to reduce wolf populations.

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Read the Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment paper: