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Escaping Social Trap Theory: A Case Study on Elk Feed Grounds and the Practicality of Collaboration.

Heintz, Tayler
Concerns over the supplemental feeding of elk and the spread of disease have become increasingly more prevalent within the last couple of years in Wyoming. With a longstanding history of supplemental feeding of elk on twenty-two elk feeding grounds in the state, various interest groups have come to rely on elk feeding grounds to maintain large populations of elk and to protect a way of life individuals have become accustomed to. These organizations and interest groups have now found themselves in a social trap. They have chosen short-term elk management solutions that provide short-term benefits, albeit over the past one hundred years, and simultaneously created a threat to the species for the future. The purpose of this research is to demonstrate social trap theory in the context of the elk feeding ground issue. An in-depth discussion of social trap theory, collaborative learning processes, relevant stakeholder groups, and individual issues surrounding the elk feeding grounds show how supplemental elk feeding fits the definition of a social trap. Furthermore, this research posits that collaborative decision-making processes may not resolve certain social traps, including the elk feeding grounds, and proposes solutions when collaboration fails.
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elk,feed ground,collaboration,social trap,wyoming,mutual gains,national elk refuge,supplemental feeding,management,wildlife
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