The Public Relations Aspects of Infrastructure Projects to Benefit Mountain Lions and Other Wildlife

Beth Pratt, National Wildlife Federation

With so many competing priorities for funding and attention, how do we ensure that wildlife infrastructure projects get the support they require? Scientific study provides the foundation for wildlife crossings (and rightly so), but even the best science does not guarantee a green light, so to move these projects forward, proponents must turn to the world of storytelling to capture the imagination of the public.

Using the case study of P-22, a famous mountain lion in Los Angeles whose story has galvanized a movement to build the largest wildlife crossing in the world, Beth Pratt, Regional Executive Director for the National Wildlife Federation will discuss how to leverage public support by connecting people to wildlife in meaningful and deeply personal ways through a variety of contemporary storytelling techniques. These methods can have significant impacts on conservation (and fundraising) as Jon Mooallem, the author of Wild Ones, observed in a recent TED talk: “In a world of conservation reliance, those stories have very real consequences, because now, how we feel about an animal affects its survival more than anything that you read about in ecology textbooks. Storytelling matters now. Emotion matters. Our imagination has become an ecological force.”

Learn how the #SaveLACougars campaign successfully used the story about the lonely cougar P-22 to raise awareness about the issue of connectivity, and to raise funds for the wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon, using social media, media outlets, special events and more. Through this talk, you’ll also learn how to apply these techniques to your own project, even if you don’t have charismatic mega fauna as a target species.