Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Recreation and Park Administration

First Advisor

Ryan L. Sharp

Department Affiliation

Recreation and Park Administration

Abstract

Human/bear interactions will continue to increase as humans continue to live and recreate in closer proximity to bear habitat. One area positioned for a marked increase in human/bear interactions is Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (BISO). To make decisions on the best management options for the growing black bear population, BISO managers need information about park visitor beliefs and concerns. The purpose of this research was to examine stakeholder views related to black bear management options within BISO. We hypothesized that different stakeholders would have varying opinions about management actions towards black bears. The findings were that more informed visitors were more in favor of non-lethal black bear management options than less informed visitors. Urban visitors were less in favor of hunting as a management option. Urban visitors were more in favor of non-lethal management options than were rural visitors. Females were less in favor of hunting as a management option but had no difference of opinion concerning the use of euthanasia as a management option. Hikers, campers and wildlife viewers were more in favor of non-lethal management options than people who did not participate in those activities. In conclusion, broader information programs need to be developed to educate visitors and local stakeholders. More research needs to be completed to determine if gender is a factor in opinions on hunting. An educational program tailored specifically to urban visitors is needed. More research is needed to determine if other variables may be the cause of differing opinions on management options and if the activity undertaken by visitors is the reason for the opinion difference.

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