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Public preferences for species conservation: choosing between lethal control, habitat protection and no action

  • MICHELLE L. LUTE (a1) (a2) and SHAHZEEN Z. ATTARI (a1)

Despite increasing support for conservation efforts, humans exert strong negative forces on nature and disagree over the management of these effects. Conflicts over conservation policy may reflect evolving opinions about how people ought to conserve species and whether to intervene in various processes. To understand public preferences for conservation in the USA, we measured support for various strategies in five case studies, where we pitted one species against another in simplified but realistic scenarios. Among our online convenience sample of 1040 participants, we found the majority of participants favoured habitat protection in all but one case, and there was little acceptance of lethal control across all cases. The results reveal that habitat protection preferences positively relate to considerations of moral principles and ecosystems and negatively relate to economic and practical considerations. Older, conservative and male participants were less likely to support habitat protection and more likely to support no action. The results suggest broad support for holistic nature conservation that benefits both people and nature and highlight areas where current wildlife management may not align with public preferences. Controversy may continue until wildlife management policies are consistent with societal values and address moral and ecosystem considerations at multiple levels.

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*Correspondence: Dr. Michelle L. Lute Tel: +1 406 848 4910 e-mail:
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