Geography ETDs

Author

Erin Marchand

Publication Date

7-11-2013

Abstract

This research examines the attitudes and perceptions of residents in Catron County and Harding County, New Mexico regarding the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program under the Endangered Species Act. Catron County is within the wolf recovery zone and residents must deal with consequences of having wolves in the area. Harding County is located on the opposite side of the state and is removed from the wolf reintroduction area. Understanding the perceived concerns and benefits of the wolf reintroduction program and if those concerns change based on geographic proximity to the reintroduction can reveal whether cultural biases or personal experience with the vi wolves play more important role in affecting attitudes and perceptions and why. This information can be important in designing a successful wolf reintroduction program. The initial hypothesis for this research was that proximate location to and personal experience with the wolves would influence attitudes and perceptions. This was proven incorrect. Using a blend of quantitative and qualitative data gathered from both counties through mail out surveys, results showed no significant difference existed between study areas in attitudes toward wolf reintroduction. The majority of respondents in both study areas experienced no effect from or had no personal experience with wolves yet the majority of respondents strongly disagreed with the reintroduction. Also, regression analysis showed very little to no correlation between demographic characteristics and feelings toward wolf reintroduction. Finally, qualitative text analysis showed that the perceived concerns of residents in Catron County about wolves were similar to the perceived concerns of residents in Harding County. This research concludes that the two study areas share the same attitudes and perceptions about wolves and their reintroduction, and that proximate location to and personal experience with wolves is independent of attitude regarding reintroduction. Rather, this study determined that rural cultural biases likely determine attitudes and perceptions about wolves. Management implications include a need to build trust between managing agencies and rural residents before undertaking a reintroduction and creating continuous educational programs in communities to help break down longstanding stereotypes.

Degree Name

Geography

Department Name

Geography

Level of Degree

Masters

First Advisor

Benson, Melinda

First Committee Member (Chair)

Duvall, Chris

Second Committee Member

Cullen, Brad

Document Type

Thesis

Language

English

Keywords

Wolf Reintroduction, Attitudes, New Mexico, Mexican Gray Wolf

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