“How decision-makers view the evolution of wildlife conservation challenges in the Southeast United States” with Kathryn Jewell, Graduate Research Assistant in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology at North Carolina State University
Effective wildlife management requires understanding conservation challenges, and strategic responses to them. Outlining these challenges is the first step in natural resource decision making. Research has documented how wildlife conservation practitioners and the public understand wildlife conservation challenges, but the perspectives among people making conservation decisions remain a blind spot in efforts to strategically manage wildlife. Wildlife agencies make decisions through collaboration between the agency directors and supervisory board members, who collectively weigh information from scientists and constituents during the process. In this case study, we interviewed directors and board members of state wildlife agencies in the Southeast to gauge their perspectives on past and current wildlife conservation challenges, and how best to respond to them. We are utilizing a naturalistic qualitative approach. Preliminary results suggest insufficient funding was viewed as the primary conservation challenge across the southeast, in the past and the present. Declining license sales and wildlife disease were mentioned as common challenges and are perceived as more important now than they were historically. Preferred responses to these challenges were viewed as shifting from land acquisition and creating new partnerships to recruiting staff and shaping legislation. These results highlight a need to address funding issues more directly, focus more on hiring education and disease specialists and engage new stakeholder groups.
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