State Wildlife Policy and Management: The Scope and Bias of Political Conflict

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State wildlife policy and management are often characterized by divisive political conflict among competing stakeholders. This conflict is increasingly being resolved through the ballot-initiative process. One important reason the process is being used so often is the way state wildlife policy and management decisions are often made by state wildlife commissions, boards, or councils (the dominant way these decisions are made in the United States). These bodies are often perceived by important stakeholders as biased, exclusive, or unrepresentative of nonconsumptive stakeholder values. As a result, unsatisfied interest groups often try to take decision-making authority away from these institutions and give it to the public through the ballot initiative. Cases and examples from Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, and Idaho are examined in this context. The article finishes by outlining four broad alternatives that may be debated in the future: the no change alternative, the authoritative expert alternative, the structural change alternative, and the stakeholder-based collaborative conservation alternative(s).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-233
Number of pages13
JournalPublic Administration Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2004


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