Bear management in New Jersey is controversial. The Division of Fish and Wildlife’s policies have not reassured factions who oppose their tools, namely hunting, despite being informed by science. This study applies qualitative content analysis to 43 policy documents to understand how actors pursue policy objectives, and how they are shaped. I find that actors pursue their policy objectives by making hybrid arguments that, in addition to science, involve history, values, and institutional power. Thus, they make scientific claims—or claims to what the science might mean—that are incompatible with each other. This study identifies four ways in which this occurs: science gets framed, science gets applied to certain ends, science gets weaponized, and science gets minimized. Comprehending the ways in which these factors supplement and frame science could reduce conflict, improve communication, and build consensus.
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