Securing Alternative Funding for Wildlife Management: Insights from Agency Leaders

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Abstract

Abstract: State wildlife management is in a period of change unlike any other in its history. The growing human population in most states is having unprecedented impacts on the natural environment. At the same time, society's interests and expectations regarding wildlife and wildlife management, respectively, are changing. Increasing demands on state wildlife management agencies and subsequent costs, as well as the declining relative numbers of hunters, the traditional funding source for state wildlife management, have caused the state wildlife management institution to acknowledge and address the need to find and secure nontraditional funding sources. We interviewed administrators from 24 state wildlife agencies to understand these leaders' perspectives on how their agencies have responded to pressure to develop alternative funding mechanisms. Specifically, we wanted to know if agency behavior was generally consistent with a typology of strategic organizational response, ranging from passive conformity to active resistance. We found evidence that state wildlife agencies exhibited strategic behavior consistent with this typology and, in some cases, were innovative in their efforts to secure alternative funding. In other cases, agency behavior was limited by real or perceived external constraints, particularly political factors. We provide a modified typology of organizational response reflecting the context of state wildlife management. Not all responses are appropriate or feasible for all agencies, so agencies must evaluate their environments to determine which strategies offer the greatest potential benefits and least potential costs. Agencies unable to behave strategically due to political or other constraints would benefit from establishing broad-based partnerships, including traditional and nontraditional stakeholders, with the purpose of building support for alternative funding of state wildlife management.

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