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24 April 2020 Public Opinion Toward a Misunderstood Predator: What do People Really Know about Wolverine and Can Educational Programs Promote its Conservation?
Morgane Bonamy, Andrew B. Harbicht, Thora M. Herrmann, Christine Gagnon
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Abstract

Among the least known of Canada's large predators, the wolverine's status as threatened, or endangered throughout its eastern range, makes it a candidate for conservation programs. A lack of public support, however, can dramatically reduce the chances of such programs being successful. To assess the current state of support for wolverine conservation, knowledge and perceptions toward this species among the public, adults visiting the St. Félicien zoo were surveyed. Knowledge among participants was generally low and misconceptions were abundant, even among repeat visitors to the zoo. Attitudes, however, were mostly positive. To assess how exposure can influence perceptions, children were surveyed who had or had not attended a 5-day camp at the zoo. Both groups demonstrated similar levels of knowledge about wolverine. However, children who had attended the camp demonstrated a greater aesthetic appreciation and fewer negative associations with wolverines. These results suggest that while the wolverine is not a well-known species, people's perceptions toward this species are not necessarily negative. Additionally, information provided by zoos, in a variety of forms, may not always be acquired by visitors, but may still have a positive influence on how the public perceives cryptic misunderstood species such as the wolverine.

© 2019 Université Laval
Morgane Bonamy, Andrew B. Harbicht, Thora M. Herrmann, and Christine Gagnon "Public Opinion Toward a Misunderstood Predator: What do People Really Know about Wolverine and Can Educational Programs Promote its Conservation?," Ecoscience 27(2), 77-92, (24 April 2020). https://doi.org/10.1080/11956860.2019.1698252
Received: 25 June 2019; Accepted: 17 November 2019; Published: 24 April 2020
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