SEATTLE - Wolves are the subject of more negative press than positive, according to a research team at Ohio State University
that examined articles written about wolves for the past ten years, including those in Pacific Northwest newspapers.
Study author Jeremy Bruskotter says there's been a great deal of news coverage of wolves, considering the fact that very few people have been directly affected by them. His team evaluated about 30,000 expressions about wolves, in thousands of news stories. They focused on separating the opinion statements from the stories' factual information.
"What's happening in the news media, is 72 percent of all the expressions, expressing a negative view of wolves. The most common view is that wolves negatively impact human activities."
Wolves are a popular topic in Washington, too. The state's draft Wolf Conservation and Management Plan received more than 60,000 comments, although many were signers of a single petition. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is sifting through them, and a final plan is expected in the new year.
Bruskotter's research also zeroed in on the news according to geographic locations, and found that places with more wolves and more experience managing them have the fewest negative impressions featured in news articles.
"We saw the most negative attitude expressions in states with new wolf populations. They differed significantly from states with permanent wolf populations."
There are some who argue that the views contained in news stories mirror public opinion, but Bruskotter points out that separate public opinion research doesn't support that claim. However, he believes no matter what the views portrayed in news coverage, they do affect public opinion about wolves.
The research was published in the journal Human Dimensions of Wildlife. An abstract is online at http://ht.ly/3kHmP