Novel methods for studying human-wolf interactions in Washington
September 2022 - December 2024
- Michael McInturff, Principal Investigator
- Lara Volski, Student / Post Doc
- USGS Cooperative Research Unit
As gray wolves (Canis lupus) recolonize Washington state, they provoke strong, polarized responses among the state’s diverse human communities. While numerous studies have investigated the unique reaction of people to wolves and wolf management, managing wolves and human-wolf interactions remains challenging, and new methods in the environmental social sciences offer great promise in revealing patterns and supporting management. In this study, we will work with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in three new methodological domains that have been urgently called for but rarely applied in the scientific literature. These domains are 1) longitudinal studies of attitudes and perspectives over time in an area experiencing recolonization; 2) mapping social phenomena to complement ecological understandings of habitat suitability and connectivity; and 3) including robust understandings of attitudes and values in science communication. Taken together, these methods can offer insights at local and broad scales and help identify systems under stress and prioritize management. The support provided by this funding will train a graduate student investigator in this important but understudied research domain and will directly lead to the production of a dissertation chapter.