Social Networks And Collective Actions Among Wildlife Management Stakeholders: Insights From Furbearer Trapping And Waterfowl Hunting Conflicts In New York State
Negative interactions between diverse stakeholders in multi-use natural resource settings create potentially contentious environments for wildlife management agencies. In a few cases, political activism (collective action) resulting from such interactions has been pronounced. These incidents are important for wildlife agencies and communities affected by wildlife because the outcomes of resulting public discussions have the potential to influence access or opportunities for wildlife harvest activities, limit wildlife management tools, influence public perceptions about wildlife as a resource, and affect relationships within and among communities. The goal of my research was to develop and examine a conceptual model incorporating the social interactions among diverse stakeholders towards influencing wildlife management. I examined negative interactions in two contexts: (1) between waterfront residents and waterfowl hunters and (2) between dog owners and wildlife trappers. I conducted semi-structured interviews (n=50) in four case study communities (Brookhaven, Canandaigua, Southampton, and Queensbury) that had related public issue discussions. Local/in-state regional organizations played important roles for enabling collective actions and expanding how public issues were framed. When stakeholders with similar policy positions banned together, policy outcomes were in the same direction as their positions. Concern for personal safety, individual rights, and individual privileges were common underlying interests for most stakeholders, even those with differing policy positions. I sent mail-back questionnaires (N= 4,000) to relevant stakeholders in two areas of the state where conflicts are likely to arise to assess experiences, attitudes, and political engagement on these management issues. Waterfowl hunters who hunt closer to occupied dwellings were less sensitive to residents' concerns; waterfront residents who knew waterfowl hunters were more accepting of waterfowl hunting. Both wildlife trappers and dog owners were concerned about dogs getting caught in traps on multi-use public lands; dog owners who took their dogs with them to state forests, municipal lands, or along roads or sidewalks exhibited higher levels of concern that their dog might get caught in a trap. This research deepens our understanding of how wildlife-related public issues emerge, how action networks form, how similar or dissimilar interests are across stakeholder groups, and what factors may promote positive or negative stakeholder interactions.
dissertation or thesis