Dressel et al. (2015): A meta-analysis of studies on attitudes toward bears and wolves across Europe 1976–2012. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12420.
Um Kritik vorweg zu nehmen, dass da wieder nicht alles an Material erfasst wurde ..The ranges of wolves (Canis lupus) and bears (Ursus arctos) across Europe have expanded recently, and it is important to assess public attitudes toward this expansion because responses toward these species vary widely. General attitudes toward an object are good predictors of broad behavioral patterns; thus, attitudes toward wolves and bears can be used as indicators to assess the social foundation for future conservation efforts. However, most attitude surveys toward bears and wolves are limited in scope, both temporally and spatially, and provide only a snapshot of attitudes. To extend the results of individual surveys over a much larger temporal and geographical range so as to identify transnational patterns and changes in attitudes toward bears and wolves over time, we conducted a meta‐analysis. Our analysis included 105 quantitative surveys conducted in 24 countries from 1976 to 2012. Across Europe, people's attitudes were more positive toward bears than wolves. Attitudes toward bears became more positive over time, but attitudes toward wolves seemed to become less favorable the longer people coexisted with them. Younger and more educated people had more positive attitudes toward wolves and bears than people who had experienced damage from these species, and farmers and hunters had less positive attitudes toward wolves than the general public. For bears attitudes among social groups did not differ. To inform conservation of large carnivores, we recommend that standardized longitudinal surveys be established to monitor changes in attitudes over time relative to carnivore population development. Our results emphasize the need for interdisciplinary research in this field and more advanced explanatory models capable of capturing individual and societal responses to changes in large carnivore policy and management.
ResultsWe designed our study to avoid the common criticisms of meta-analytical approaches (Borenstein et al. 2009).Meta-analyses are often weakened by the so-called filedrawer problem or by publication bias, which results from the fact that studies with significant results, high effect sizes, or that support a common thesis are more likely to be published. In turn publication bias, may lead to ignorance of unpublished null results (Borenstein et al.2009). We purposefully searched for unpublished studies to minimize this bias.
Because some relevant surveys were not published inpeer-reviewed journals (e.g., dissertations, theses, and project reports), we included grey literature in our analysis to avoid the risk of bias toward published studies.
DiscussionOf the 105 surveys included in our analysis, 45% dealt with wolves, 20% focused on bears, and 35% investigated attitudes toward both species. The most surveyed countries were Norway (14), Sweden (12), Italy (11), and Croatia (10).
Wieviele Paper gibt es inzwischen darüber, dass "Schutzjagd" und Obergrenzen bei Wölfen zu noch mehr Wilderei und Schäden an Nutztieren führt?! Bären & Wölfe, schon wieder Äpfel mit Birnen und so? Und so ein Knuffelbär wird wohl anders wahrgenommen, scheint´s.Our meta-analysis represents one of the first attemptsto understand the relationship between the return andpresence of European large carnivore populations andpeople’s attitudes toward them. We found that theproportion of people with positive attitudes towardwolves decreased as the duration of their coexistenceincreased. We interpret this to mean that residents findit easy to support the hypothetical return of large carni-vores in areas where such animals are currently absentbecause they have not experienced conflicts with such predators. We suggest that after the species returns, conflicts become more common and attitudes become less positive. This is consistent with previous findings that attitudes toward wolves and bears are negatively affected by the animals’ presence and the associated policies,media attention, and encounters (Ericsson & Heberlein2003; Bisi et al. 2007; Røskaft et al. 2007).
After returning to their former habitats, carnivore populations will increase and more people will interact with them directly or indirectly. Increases in perceived carnivore abundance have been associated with more negative attitudes (Bjerke et al. 1998; Røskaft et al. 2007). This relationship was apparent in our data: 100% of the wolf surveys and 87% of the bear surveys (Table 2) found thatpeople who had experienced damage due to carnivores held more negative attitudes toward them than peoplewho had not experienced such damage. In addition, me-dia coverage of the carnivores is likely to increase duringthe return phase, which will influence people’s attitudeformation. A North American content analysis showedthat media reports about wolves were significantly morenegative and frequent in areas with newly establishedwolf populations than in areas without wolves (Houstonet al. 2010).
We found that year had a significant positive effect on attitudes toward bears. This suggests that people’sattitudes, and potentially their behaviors, may become more positive over time. However, this interpretation isquestionable because it is not derived from longitudinal studies that follow the same group of respondents over time. Other variables (e.g., presence of the species, region, country, sample group) may explain the variation in the data.
We speculate that the ability to hunt bears may be one reason bears were regarded more positively than wolves.Being a huntable species in some countries gives bears a higher value (Treves & Karanth 2003) than wolves, which are causing substantial economic losses across Europe (Kaczensky 1999) and are often the primary drivers of discourses about large carnivores (Sharpe et al. 2001).
Our results thus are consistent with the conclusions of Bruskotter and Wilson (2014): we found little consistency in the conceptualization and measurement of attitudes toward large carnivores across the included surveys. The limited or nonexistent contributions of experienced social science researchers to the design of the surveys may explain theabsence of the rigorous theoretical approaches required to obtain generalizable results that provide deep understanding (Vaske & Manfredo 2012).
Half the surveys used nonprobability sampling methods (e.g., convenience sampling), and several used small samples that limited their validity. Our results show that attitudes toward large carnivores is still a relatively new field of research (70% of all surveys conductedafter the year 2000), so there is scope for exploring new approaches in future.Our results support the idea that the period when animals actually return is critical for conservation because public attitudes are likely to change once people startcoexisting with bears or wolves. Conservationists must therefore continuously monitor public attitudes to assess the effects of management actions and policies and to enable prompt strategic changes if public opinions shift. Because attitudes toward bears and wolves seem to change as their populations become established, longitudinal surveys should be encouraged in countries where large carnivores are returning.