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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


A critical but underattended feature of the biodiversity crisis is the contraction of geographic range experienced by most studied terrestrial vertebrates. In the United States, the primary policy tool for mitigating the biodiversity crisis is a federal law, the Endangered Species Act (ESA). For the past two decades, the federal agencies that administer the ESA have interpreted the act in a manner that precludes treating this geographic element of the crisis. Therefore, the burden of mitigating the biodiversity crisis largely falls on wildlife agencies within state government, which are obligated to operate on behalf of the interests of their constituents. We present survey research indicating that most constituents expect state agencies to prioritize species restoration over other activities, including hunting. This prioritization holds even among self-identified hunters, which is significant because state agencies often take the provisioning of hunting opportunity as their top priority. By prioritizing rewilding efforts that restore native species throughout portions of their historic range, state agencies could unify hunting and nonhunting constituents while simultaneously stemming the biodiversity crisis.

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© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. Publisher’s version of record:

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License


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