Wildlife-associated recreation and wildlife management: views of birders, hunters, environmentalists, wildlife professionals, and forestry professionals

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Few wildlife-associated recreation models have examined the contributions of wildlife to recreation experiences. In this study, a mail questionnaire was used to examine the wildlife experiences enjoyed by hunters, birders, environmentalists, wildlife professionals, and forestry professionals. In addition, the study also compared the surveyed groups' socioeconomic characteristics, recreation activities, and organizational affiliations, as well as their perceptions concerning approaches to wildlife management, habitat issues, and the social values attributed to wildlife.

While responses often differed according to populations, the surveyed groups enjoyed many of the same wildlife watching experiences and, if they hunted, many of the same hunting experiences. The subjects' outdoor recreation activities and organizational affiliations suggested that the populations' interests in wildlife varied according to primary/secondary- and consumptive/nonconsumptive-orientation.

Groups sometimes viewed the social values attributed to wildlife differently, but ecological value of wildlife and the value of wildlife to the enjoyment of future generations were important to all groups surveyed. The social values important to subjects personally sometimes differed from the values they believed justified tax expenditures.

Generally, both professional groups agreed with use of five wildlife management approaches, but viewed forest habitat issues differently. The user groups were divided about the use of hunting and timber harvesting to help manage some wildlife species and about the adequacy of forest lands in the Southeast U.S. to meet the needs of some species.

The professional groups had similar socioeconomic backgrounds. User groups varied according to age, sex, community type, education, and occupation; however, the user groups had similar household incomes.