Public Perceptions of Wolves and Their Return to the Great Lakes State
Dr. Roger Nemeth
Canis lupus, or the Gray wolf, as an apex predator, can certainly be a danger to humans. However, the common perception of wolves as malevolent and evil creatures has been socially constructed through ancient myths as well as contemporary media portrayals. In the early history of the United States, wolf populations were nearly destroyed and only recently has this animal made a return in the Great Lakes Region. This project was a survey of Michigan residents that assessed their knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions (KAP) of wolves. The research also gathered information about the demographics of respondents as well as their positions on two proposals in the November election. The purpose of Proposal One in the election was to determine whether Public Act 520, an act allowing for a wolf hunt in the state of Michigan, would be upheld. The purpose of Proposal Two was to determine whether Public Act 21, a law giving the Natural Resources Commission the power to designate game species, would be upheld. Our research predicted Proposal One within 1% and Proposal Two within 4%. The demographic data gathered in the survey along with the KAP data was analyzed to determine any relationships there were between variables. Among others, significant relationships were found between education, knowledge about wolves, and fear of wolves. The research indicates the importance of public perception and education in the protection of important environmental assets such as wolves.
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