Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Environmental Studies (MES)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Dr. Christopher Lemieux

Advisor Role



Parks and other forms of protected areas are considered a vital tool in the effective conservation of biodiversity. These areas also provide important spaces for nature-based tourism and recreation (NBTR), where activities such as hiking, swimming, canoeing, and socializing with friends and family often occur. In some cases, hunting may also occur within a protected area, but there is little understanding of how such activities affect the experience and overall satisfaction of other recreationists (and vise-versa). While NBTR is a popular and growing industry, there is limited research in Canada about the values of tourists and recreationists and the conflicts which may occur amongst them within these shared spaces. Given this critical research gap, the goal of this thesis was to assess recreationists’ Wildlife Value Orientations (WVOs) within Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area (PRA) in the province of Alberta, Canada, and to assess the extent to which (potentially incompatible) activities, such as hunting, are affecting visitor experiences in this PRA. To achieve this goal, two surveys were deployed, one for hunters (n = 363) and another for non-hunters (n = 173). The surveys included open and closed-ended questions that were statistically analyzed to identify and understand recreationist experiences with conflicts within the PRA and their WVOs. The WVOs identified through exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) were traditionalists (27.8%), mutualists (29.5%), distanced (22.2%), and pluralists (20.50%). Overall, the results revealed that hunters were more traditional and non-hunters tended to be more mutualistic. These findings indicate that hunters believe that the management of wildlife is for the benefit of humans, whereas non-hunters believe that wildlife deserve equal rights and care as humans. Social values conflict was revealed to be occurring more than interpersonal conflict; however, the conflicts that occurred amongst these two groups (hunters and non-hunters) were minimal overall. One major concern for managers that was revealed through the analysis is the potential effect that hunting has on non-hunting women’s experiences in the PRA. Some wWomen felt unsafe upon seeing hunters. This finding is important because related literature has revealed that women are highly motivated to visit protected areas and often drive the decision to visit such areas. Women also receive a broad spectrum of health and well-being benefits associated with experiences provided by protected areas. Other conflicts identified with non-hunting associated events are related to dogs chasing wildlife, people disturbing or feeding wildlife, which causes social values conflict with other recreationists who use the PRA. The thesis concludes with recommendations to support PRA management, including suggested communication and outreach activities, a new management plan for the PRA with issues surround conflict included, enhanced research and monitoring of motivations and satisfaction, and the development of new communication strategies to communicate the role of hunting more effectively.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season