About the Endangered Species Act and the non-controversy over its widespread support (contrary to what we currently are ‘led’ to believe)…

In short, a study published very recently found that:

(a) ∼4 in 5 Americans support the ESA, whereas ∼1 in 10 oppose it;

(b) support for the ESA remained stable over the past two decades;

(c) strong majorities (>68%) of individuals identifying with 8 special interest types support the ESA; and

(d) no differences in support for the ESA, attitudes toward wolves, or trust in the FWS across regions. Results suggest that protecting species—even controversial predators—does not weaken support for protective legislation.

Clear, concise, unequivocal… A little more details? Here we go:

The results of this study show that support for the ESA generally was high— even among those who self-identify with the special interests who sometimes vehemently oppose ESA protections.

Further, contrary to the predictions of some conservationists, protecting controversial species such as the gray wolf does not appear to undermine support for the ESA in regions where that species is protected.

These results have widespread application for conservation policy. Specifically, they suggest:

(i) conservation professionals should not assume that protecting species—even where politically controversial—will undermine support for biodiversity conservation policies, nor support for those who administer such policies and,

(ii) concerted efforts by legislators to undermine or minimize policies should not be taken prima facie as an indication of public opposition—or even the opposition of those they purport to represent.

Beyond conservation, these results may be of value to policy scholars who are interested in understanding why in some instances governments are more responsive to the special interests of a few as opposed to the uncontroversial will of most citizens. The question (whose treatment is beyond the scope of this article) is what institutional or grassroots changes would work to reduce that lack of such responsiveness in general or in the special case of conservation policy…


Support for the U.S. Endangered Species Act over time and space: Controversial species do not weaken public support for protective legislation
Jeremy T. Bruskotter, John A. Vucetich, Kristina M. Slagle, Ramiro Berardo, Ajay S. Singh, Robyn S. Wilson
First published: 19 July 2018 https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12595

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