Publication Date

Fall 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies


Will Russell


Attitudes Toward Wolves, Ethics, Large Carnivores, Values, Wolf Management, Wolves

Subject Areas

Ethics; Wildlife management; Environmental studies


Approximately seventy-five years after extirpation from Washington State, gray wolves (Canis lupus) returned. As of December 2012, eight packs had arrived from adjacent states and provinces. Delisted from the Federal Endangered Species List in the eastern one-third of Washington, state wildlife managers now have the authority to manage wolves without federal supervision. As a result, one seven-wolf pack has been destroyed. The current study was developed to provide information for managers and policymakers to modify wolf management policies to fit the new regulatory context. Effects of a range of cultural and demographic factors on attitudes toward wolves and tolerance of wolf-human interactions were assessed using surveys mailed to 1,500 residents in Washington State. Factors included risk perception, experience with and knowledge of wolves, socio-demographic factors, and cultural attributes. Unexpectedly, 48.3% of respondents approved of wolves; only 18.1% disapproved of them in the area. Most respondents (57.2%) also indicated that danger to humans was not a reason to disapprove. Disapproval of wolves by suburban respondents (53.7%) was surprisingly greater than by citizens living in rural regions (39.0%). Wildlife managers must avoid preconceived stereotypes and guide differing groups to unite to minimize wolf-human conflicts, building bridges among stakeholders believed to hold irreconcilable differences, in order to support sustainable recovery of wolves.