Date of Award

1993

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs

Abstract

Understanding what motivates public perception and actions is important in assessing public response and forecasting the success of resource management plans. Failure of the policy makers to foresee public reaction can result in expensive delays, bad press and lengthy court battles which at best, increases the cost of implementation and at worst stops resource management projects altogether. An endangered species management program was stopped at the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge in Southern California when an animal right's organization protested the euthanizing of non-native red foxes where were decimating endangered populations of California Least terns and Clapper rails in the coastal wetlands. The animals right's organization valued the red fox and perceived the management practice as unacceptable. This study was conducted to determine the perceptions of the general public in regards to the species involved and management plan. Through a survey of a three specific sample populations, it was found that over half of the respondents valued the endangered birds and believed that they should be protected even if it meant euthanizing the red foxes. The public would have preferred other methods to remove the foxes and protect the birds but were not willing to play for alternative, more costly management practices. Finally, the public had a clear preference for a "natural" management plan in which native coyotes were re-introduced to the coastal wetland to establish a better balanced habitat.