Back To Schedule
Tuesday, February 22 • 8:30am - 10:00am
Plenary Session: Enhancing Relevancy and Engaging Support from a Broader Constituency: Insights from a Multistate Wildlife Viewing Survey - Sponsored by Missouri Department of Conservation

Sign up or log in to save this to your schedule, view media, leave feedback and see who's attending!

Wildlife viewing (intentionally observing, feeding, or photographing wildlife) is one of the fastest growing outdoor recreation activities in the United States, with significant implications for the work of state fish and wildlife agencies, especially given stable or declining rates of participation in hunting and angling. Wildlife viewers support wildlife and habitat conservation financially, politically, and through participation in other conservation activities. However, viewers’ direct support of wildlife agencies is limited compared to their support of other conservation organizations, likely due in part to perceptions about agency roles and priorities. Research has shown that birders and other viewers also tend to have lower levels of trust in state and federal agencies relative to other entities and when compared to hunters and anglers. While important insights have emerged piecemeal from a number of surveys, agencies have lacked generalizable information about viewer behaviors, perceptions, needs, and preferences in relation to state wildlife agencies. This information is essential for agencies to be more inclusive of, and relevant to, wildlife viewers; fulfill their missions; and advance fish and wildlife conservation.

Through a project supported by a 2021 Multistate Conservation Grant, researchers at Virginia Tech collaborated with the AFWA Wildlife Viewing and Nature Tourism Working Group to fill this knowledge gap with a social science study on how wildlife viewers can better support and be supported by wildlife agencies. The project included a review of existing research on wildlife viewers; implementation of a national online survey, with sampling among wildlife viewers in each of the four AFWA regions; and analysis at national and regional scales. This plenary presentation will share survey findings on wildlife viewers’: 1) recreation behaviors, including social support for and barriers to wildlife viewing, use of public lands, and viewing-related expenditures; 2) conservation behaviors, including both past involvement in conservation activities and likelihood to participate in these activities with agencies; and 3) relationships with agencies, including familiarity with, trust in, and perceptions of state agencies; experiences with agency programs and services; and preferred forms of viewing support and communications from agencies. The plenary will also share recommendations for using survey insights to inform engagement with wildlife viewers.

avatar for Dr. Willa Chaves

Dr. Willa Chaves

Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions, Virginia Tech
Willandia Chaves is an Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation. She is also Affiliated Faculty with the Global Change Center and the Center for Emerging, Zoonotic, and Arthropod-borne Pathogens. Her research includes urbanization... Read More →
avatar for Dr. Ashley Dayer

Dr. Ashley Dayer

Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions, Virginia Tech
Dr. Ashley Dayer is an Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech and Affiliated Faculty with the Global Change Center. Her conservation social science research focuses on conservation behavior of wildlife recreationists... Read More →
avatar for Kelsey Jennings

Kelsey Jennings

Master's Student, Virginia Tech
Kelsey Jennings is a master’s student in the Dayer Human Dimensions Lab in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech. Their research interests encompass the human dimensions of wildlife viewers and focus on how historically underrepresented groups engage... Read More →
avatar for Shelly Plante

Shelly Plante

Nature Tourism Manager, Texas Parks and Wildlife
Shelly Plante is the Nature Tourism Manager for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, working in the Marketing Group. She believes community-based conservation, education and partnerships are critical to the future of our natural resources, and works throughout Texas to connect people... Read More →
avatar for Emily Sinkular

Emily Sinkular

Graduate Research Assistant, Virginia Tech
Emily Sinkular joined the Dayer Human Lab in the Spring of 2021 as a Master’s Student in Fish and Wildlife Conservation. Her research in the Dayer Lab focuses on a multi-state study of wildlife viewers.Emily spent much of her childhood in Germany, where she finished high school... Read More →

Tuesday February 22, 2022 8:30am - 10:00am MST