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Environment & Climate Change

How our attitudes figure into the wolf debate

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Tracy Brooks/Mission Wolf/USFWS
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Michigan's gray wolf population is estimated to be 687 animals. The recovery goal for the population is between 250-300 wolves.

Less than a month after voters weighed in on wolf hunting in Michigan, a new study looks at the attitudes driving the wolf debate.

The study, co-authored by Meredith Gore of Michigan State University, tries to better understand why controversy persists in wolf management in Michigan.

Gore's research found that a common factor appears to be assumptions people make about other groups. She says interviews revealed a tension between local knowledge about wolves, and what the science says. She says that can undermine trust in the decision-making that goes on in Lansing.

Gore says the study also looked at how people see special interests and politics influence those decisions. She says Native Americans in particular feel like their interests have been shunted aside.

Earlier this month, Michigan voters rejected a pair of referenda on state laws authorizing a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula. But it was a bit of an empty victory. A state law passed in August will trump those ballot measures. That law gives the Natural Resources Commission the authority to designate game species and schedule hunting seasons. The state law was pushed by state hunting clubs, which collected enough signatures to put the legislation before lawmakers before voters went to the polls to weigh in on the issue.

Listen above to Prof. Gore talk about wolf management in Michigan

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