Wildlife value orientations as predicting factors in support of reintroducing bison and of wolves migrating to Germany
In the light of the worldwide biodiversity convention, the return of the wolf and the planned reintroduction of the European bison to Germany are seen as success stories in efforts to protect biological diversity. Prerequisite to the successful long-term reintroduction of wild animals is the support and approval of the return of animal populations by the general public. To better understand opinions towards wildlife and wildlife management, which often underlie controversies, the influence of wildlife related value orientations has been the focus of empirical research in recent years. In the current study, we examined wildlife value orientations in a sample of German students (n = 364) majoring in three different university subjects: agriculture; landscape ecology/nature conservation; and, social sciences. Analysis showed internal consistencies among the items comprising the wildlife value orientation scale. As theoretically expected, results of multiple regression analysis revealed wildlife value orientations have great impact on a decision to support the return of wolves and bison to Germany. In conclusion, the instrument, developed in the US, turned out to be reliable and had predictive value for the use in Germany. Also, we found differences in wildlife value orientation in relation to the factors of gender and academic background. A value orientation that focuses on mutualism was usually subjected to gender and academic major interaction effects. Males and females within and between student groups placed different weight on wildlife value orientations, possibly generating a potential for conflicts relating to wildlife management decisions, such as the reintroduction of bison or the support of wolves’ return.