Skip to main content
The Perils of Ignoring (or Misunderstanding) Politics and Organizing
Political Science Faculty Publications and Presentations
  • David Johns, Portland State University
Document Type
Publication Date
  • Endangered species -- United States,
  • Nature conservation -- Government policy -- United States,
  • Endangered species -- Law and legislation -- Political aspects -- United States
Conservation scientists and advocates were surprised by the U.S. Congress stripping away protection for wolves in the US northern Rocky Mountains. If they had paid attention to earlier political lessons in which court victories had been undermined by determined political organizing they would not have been surprised and could have adopted strategies that would have given them much more leverage with elected officials. Instead conservationists were out-organized and elected officials normally supportive of the U.S. Endangered Species Act responded to anti-wolf groups because they brought more pressure to bear than conservationists. Although political lessons are specific to the system in which decisions are made, they can also be generalized: political influence is exercised not just formally but informally through mobilization of economic leverage, organized mass action, framing of issues and other means, by which decision makers are rewarded and punished. The full political landscape must be the theater action, not just a part of it.

This is an unpublished manuscript

Persistent Identifier
Citation Information
David Johns. "The Perils of Ignoring (or Misunderstanding) Politics and Organizing" (2014)
Available at: