Date of Degree

2-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Psychology

Advisor(s)

Cindi Katz

Cindi Katz

Committee Members

Cindi Katz

Roger Hart

Caitlin Cahill

Susan Clark

William Wyckoff

Subject Categories

Environmental Studies | Human Geography | Nature and Society Relations | Other Psychology

Keywords

Carnivores, Wolves, Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Grizzly Bears, Cougars, Human-Wildlife Coexistence

Abstract

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) encompasses urbanizing areas adjacent to essential conservation habitat with an inimitable capacity to support carnivore populations, including grizzly bears, wolves, and cougars. This geography has resulted in divisive social conflicts about these animals’ management as well as physical conflicts when they come into contact with people over the course of daily life in the region. Employing a qualitative methodology with semi-structured interviews, participant observation, wilderness treks, and archival work, this study examines the context, social processes, and decision-making processes that underlie the predator conflicts and produce management challenges in the GYE. This approach integrates theory and methods from psychology, biology, and geography to differentiate the full-range of people’s stakes and reveal the limitations of current scientific and policy paradigms. This integrative approach is used to address how the GYE’s predator conflicts are physical and symbolic expressions of larger concerns that remain unaddressed by policy measures and polarize people’s debates regarding wildlife management amidst a changing global environment. The findings from this study are then used to develop a framework for managing the conflicts through innovative programming efforts that broaden public participation, endorse practice-based approaches to conservation, and build support for coexistence measures amongst diverse stakeholders. This study is intended to reveal where the domains of science and policy are in managing the diverse needs of people, wolves, grizzlies, and cougars as well as identify the necessary transformations for mediating coexistence amongst these human and nonhuman stakeholders under contemporary conditions of environmental stress.

 
 

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