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Mysterious thing called Populism affecting wildlife

If only there was no populism:

ScienceDaily.   Researchers at Colorado State University and The Ohio State University have found that a cultural backlash stemming from the rise of populism may limit opportunities for state fish and wildlife agencies to adapt to changing social values in the United States. The team reached this conclusion by analyzing more than 12,000 surveys from 19 states and studying ballot initiatives related to hunting.

Unwind your way through that maze. Academics have spent thousands of dollars to discover that some people have different values to academics. Some people who don’t like new laws are protesting, and that may stop “unlimited” changes. Isn’t that democracy?

In the case of human-wildlife conflict, traditionalists would be more likely to support lethal wildlife control methods while mutualists would be more supportive of restrictions on humans.

After two million years of meat-eating, I’d say homo traditionalist had already been “affecting the wildlife”. Even before the rise of populismisticness.

But if populism is pop-u-lar, what kind of “changing social values” do fish and wildlife agencies really need to adapt to anyway? If the changes are less popular, who says we need to change?

The problem is “Trust me”

Based on the new study, researchers found that in states with the largest change in social values, individuals who held traditional values had lower levels of trust in the state wildlife agency. In contrast to traditional values, in which people believe wildlife exists for their benefit, the researchers describe an emerging set of values, in which wildlife and humans are seen as part of a connected social community, as mutualism.

Here’s a thought, maybe traditionalists think of humans as being a “part of a connected social community” — a human one — one where people talk about things and persuade each other, rather than just deciding their own social values were Right, doing 12,000 studies and labelling people who disagree as an –ism? But that would make the traditionalists the mutualists, and the mutualists, well… insensitive totalitarians.

You thought this was peer reviewed science, but this is a Trump-Brexit thing:

The recent trend toward populist politics has occurred, in part, as a result of a cultural backlash, where select segments of society have rallied against progressive social changes of the later 20th and early 21st centuries. This trend includes the Brexit vote in England, election of Donald Trump as U.S. President, and increased representation of populist parties in European parliaments.

Missing something?

Researchers talk about the “backlash” but not about the “overreach” that might have caused it:

One area where the researchers looked at for evidence of backlash was in the surge of wildlife-related ballot initiatives. In the 1990s, there was a rise in initiatives that limited certain forms of hunting and fishing. In Colorado, initiatives included a ban on spring bear hunting in 1992 and the elimination of recreational trapping in 1996.

Between the turn of the century and the present, however, there has been a counter surge of ballot initiatives, most of which focus on protecting the right to hunt. This trend, the authors said, offers evidence of actions among traditional groups to fight back against change.

One mans “fight back against change” is another man’s protest at a stupid idea.

Only one of them gets a grant to misunderstand the other and put it in a press release.

Message to academics: If “trust” is the issue, try listening, behaving with honor, honesty and respect. Funny things might happen.


Michael J. Manfredo, Tara L. Teel, Leeann Sullivan, Alia M. Dietsch. Values, trust, and cultural backlash in conservation governance: The case of wildlife management in the United StatesBiological Conservation, 2017; 214: 303 DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2017.07.032

PS: I don’t even like hunting.

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