Written as an abstract

I’m hoping to continue my research on Vermonter’s valuation of coyotes, land, and livestock. Here is how I approached my research, some of my most interesting findings, the main conflict in this research, and the main stakeholders that I’ve discovered. I also leave this abstract with some key questions that I would like to see answered.

Wildlife policy in the United States has historically adopted instrumental values as a framework for regulating human-wildlife interactions (Bengston, 2000). Farmers’ complex relationships with land and wildlife provides insight into the origin of instrumental-oriented wildlife policy. In Vermont, where 1.2 million acres are used as farmland (United States Census of Agriculture, Vermont, p. 6), farmers frequently interact with coyotes and are key to understanding the instrumental values and other value types that are used in coyote policy (Porter, 2018.. Relational values frameworks have provided a new domain for value articulation that more fully encompass the complexities of human relationships with ecosystems, landscapes, and wildlife, and allows for more productive policy reform and implementation (Chan, 2011).  Recent changes in abundance and distribution of wildlife populations across the state of Vermont call for a re-evaluation of the way we characterize and regulate our relationship with nature. In this research, we draw from fifteen interviews in the Vermont farming community to characterize farm workers’ values surrounding coyotes, land, and livestock. We examine farmers’ stories about their experiences with coyotes, land, and livestock for instances of intrinsically, instrumentally, and relationally valuable beings in their lives. We discuss patterns in farmers’ characterization of land, livestock, and coyotes and their roles in cultural ecosystem services (CES), or “ecosystems’ contributions to the nonmaterial benefits … that people derive from human‐ecological relations” (Chan et al., 2011). We use the relational values framework to bring nuance to the dichotomy of intrinsic and instrumental values to examine how farmers’ relationships with wildlife might differ from their relationship with farmland and livestock. Finally, we draw on these three value frameworks to gain a more encompassing view of dialogue around human-nature relationships, and to implement more effective coyote policy that considers the complexity of coyote-human relationships in Vermont. 

Lena Ashooh

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