Date of Award

4-2016

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Geography

First Advisor

Dr. Lisa DeChano-Cook

Second Advisor

Dr. Gregory Veeck

Third Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Baker

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

Gray wolves (Canis lupus) are an important keystone species in mixed forest ecosystems throughout the Great Lakes region. Due to wolves being placed on the Endangered Species List in 1974, the wolf population of Michigan has increased from near extinction in 1974 to greater than 650 in 2013. The return of wolves to northern Michigan ecosystems has re-ignited complex debates regarding how humans and wolves should best coexist. Wildlife professionals have become increasingly aware of the importance of human response for sound wildlife management decisions. The most effective management plans require cooperation from all parties, including farmers, citizens, tourists, wildlife managers, and hunters. This research, based on an online survey of more than 1200 hunters completed between February and July of 2015, assesses perceptions related to gray wolf management policies among hunters in eight regions of Michigan. The questionnaire also collected information on knowledge of the species with regards to their ecological importance. Inferential and spatial statistics were used to determine variations in opinions and knowledge about wolves by respondent’s age and other demographic categories as well as how this knowledge varies by state region. Information obtained may be used to help educate wildlife managers on what hunters actually know about wolves and how Michigan hunters perceive both wolves and the potential efficacy of wolf management options across the state.

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