Children's Attitudes Towards Wildlife: A Comparison by Ethnicity and Community Size

Using questionnaires, we surveyed fifth grade students in eastern Texas during spring 1998 to evaluate their knowledge of and attitudes towards wildlife. We grouped data from 1315 completed surveys by community size (urban, semi-urban, semi-rural, and rural) and ethnicity (black, Hispanic, and white). We compared knowledge and attitude scores among groups using Kruskal-Wallis tests and evaluated relationships between knowledge or activities and attitudes using Pearson's correlations. We found that television was the primary source of wildlife information for the students; parents generally ranked lowest. White students had higher (P < 0.05) knowledge and attitude scores than Hispanics, which were higher (P < 0.05) than blacks. Rural white students had the highest scores (P < 0.05) among community sizes. For each ethnic group and community size, correlations between knowledge and attitudes were significant (P < 0.05). Students who experienced hunting and/or fishing had higher (P < 0.05) attitude scores than students who did not. Our results suggest that there is a need to teach basic wildlife education to students. While television may be exposing students to worldwide wildlife, they lack knowledge about local and regional species. Also, wildlife agencies should focus on increasing participation in consumptive use activities by elementary school students, especially females. Programs similar to Becoming an Outdoors Woman or Women in the Outdoors that target mothers and daughters or fathers and daughters may be a successful way to reach young females.

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