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Margaret Shunick

University of Montana

Sponsor: Deni Elliott

"Feelings, Beliefs and Values About Animals in the Wild."

Medical researchers address animal welfare concerns using guidelines known as the Three R’s (expanded by IFER to the Four R’s). Wildlife biologists, animal scientist, and animal protection advocates have no similar methodology for assessing the well-being of wild species. This project anticipates finding subjective agreement regarding animal welfare in the debate over Yellowstone National Park’s bison; concerns for animal well-being are expected to provide common ground for people divided over management issues. This project’s subsequent analysis of land use and animal regulation will use animal welfare defined by the Four R’s as assessment criteria for the recommendation of policy changes.

The application of a human/animal empathy scale developed by Project Director Marianne Spitzform, the “Interpersonal Reactivity Index Animal Form,” (also funded in part by IFER) will be used to gauge the degree of operational empathy that various segments of the test group exhibit towards wildlife.