Evaluating Public Attitudes Toward Growing Black Bear Populations in Alabama
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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Although black bear (Ursus americanus) populations in Alabama have been low since the early part of the 20th century, an increase in sightings over the past decade has spurred discussion on restoring the species throughout its native range in the state. Human-bear interactions are likely to occur as bear populations increase and bears and humans live in closer proximity to one another. Effectively managing the species for both population viability and public satisfaction requires that management agencies understand the attitudes of their constituents. We utilized a mail-in survey, distributed in regions identified as being most important to black bear recovery in order to identify resident attitudes, values, and opinions regarding these growing bear populations. This research attempts to understand the demographic and cognitive factors that influence resident attitudes towards black bears and black bear population recovery. Additionally, we evaluated the acceptability of common black bear conflict management strategies in response to specific bear encounter scenarios and used these evaluations to predict the potential for conflict among residents as a result of these actions.