Date of Award

Spring 2009

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources and Environmental Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Kurk Dorsey


Attitudes toward wildlife are considerably more complex than one might suspect. This dissertation started with a hypothesis that population growth would correlate with increasing negative attitudes toward wildlife, but historical evidence only partially supports this hypothesis. Information about the frequency and types of wildlife references appearing in newspapers between 1945 and 1985 was gathered from a systematic sampling of six New Hampshire newspapers that represented towns with differing growth trends. While analysis of quantitative data minimized any correlation between growth and negative attitudes, qualitative data from newspaper articles, archival sources, government reports, books and articles, and other sources provided evidence that growth-related changes did have some effect on attitudes toward wildlife. Therefore, this research evolved to look more carefully at the effects of growth, and to identify what additional cultural elements played a role in shaping attitudes toward wildlife. Elements identified and explored include: growth, changes in agriculture, environmentalism, trends in outdoor recreation, and relationships with domestic companion animals. The general finding was that the history of local attitudes toward wildlife is a complicated web of intersecting cultural elements that have affected attitudes in diverse ways.