Education and outreach efforts in support of wolf conservation in the great lakes region

Pamela S. Troxell, Karlyn Atkinson Berg, Holly Jaycox, Andrea Lorek Strauss, Peggy Struhsacker, Peggy Callahan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

A key component to the recovery of gray wolves ( Canis lupus ) in the Great Lakes region has been educational efforts about wolves done within the region. All four US Wolf Recovery Plans include recommendations to use public education to promote wolf conservation (Fritts et al. 2003). The importance of education also surfaced as a key component of the initial recovery plan for wolves in Wisconsin (Thiel and Valen 1995) , and continued to be an important aspect of all wolf management plans in the Great Lakes region. The objective presentation of wolves is considered necessary by most wolf biologists for sustaining recovery (Fritts et al. 2003). Agencies responsible for wolf recovery have been involved in promoting wolf conservation, but have also relied heavily on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and volunteers. In this chapter, we discuss the changing attitudes toward wolves in the Great Lakes region, and examine how education has responded and helped change those attitudes. There are many approaches that can be used to educate people about wolves (Fritts et al. 2003) , and we examined the approaches used by the six organizations we represent, but we want to stress that there are other approaches and other organizations that have also been involved with educating people about wolves in this region. We conclude with suggestions of how education may continue to be used to promote conservation and living with wolves in the areas where wolf populations have recovered in the western Great Lakes states. Our goals for education include (1) provide information about wolf biology, natural history, and ecology; (2) connect the public with scientific research on wolves as well as other species (using wolves as a focus because of the high level of interest in this species); (3) help people understand how scientists gather information about wolves, so they can better judge the credibility of popular sources of information; (4) help people to make informed decisions based on science, not emotions whether those emotions are positive or negative; and (5) give people practical suggestions of strategies for coexisting with wolves to minimize conflicts. Those educating about wolves must be careful to inspire appreciation for the wolf and its important role in the ecosystem, without leading the public to have an unrealistic view of the species. Education about wolves needs to help people to wrestle with difficult and controversial questions but should not try to provide them with the answers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRecovery of Gray Wolves in the Great Lakes Region of the United States
Subtitle of host publicationAn Endangered Species Success Story
PublisherSpringer New York
Pages297-309
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9780387859514
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009

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