2023 article

Conservation decision makers worry about relevancy and funding but not climate change

Jewell, K., Peterson, M. N., Martin, M., Stevenson, K. T., Terando, A., & Teseneer, R. (2023, January 31). WILDLIFE SOCIETY BULLETIN.

By: K. Jewell n, M. Peterson n, M. Martin*, K. Stevenson n, A. Terando n & R. Teseneer n

author keywords: climate change; conservation leadership; management; planning; wildlife agencies
Source: Web Of Science
Added: February 20, 2023

Stakeholders fundamentally shape the success of wildlife management, yet little is known about how one of the most important stakeholder groups, wildlife agency decision makers, view emerging conservation challenges. Wildlife agency decision makers collectively shape how wildlife conservation unfolds in North America, but their perspectives are generally absent in the literature. Challenges including climate change, conservation funding models, and wildlife disease make understanding how wildlife decision makers view the future of wildlife conservation essential. We interviewed 48 directors and supervisory board members of wildlife agencies in the southeast United States from July 2019 to January 2020 to gauge their assessment of future conservation challenges and preferred response strategies. Declining agency relevancy and insufficient funding were the 2 most commonly identified challenges, while climate change was rarely mentioned as an issue because decision makers believed it was a relatively slow-moving background condition. Decision makers described improving relevance through education and outreach as their primary response to conservation challenges. Our results suggest that climate change-informed wildlife management may benefit from a 2-pronged approach. First, we suggest decision makers should be informed about the challenges posed by climate change, and second, existing efforts to promote diversity among constituents should include engaging groups who support tackling the threat climate change poses to wildlife conservation. Increasing the priority given to climate change adaptation efforts in wildlife agencies will likely require future research to discern which approaches can most improve the perceived salience of climate change to decision makers.