Environmental Management

, Volume 45, Issue 6, pp 1299–1311 | Cite as

Socioeconomic Factors Affecting Local Support for Black Bear Recovery Strategies

  • Anita T. Morzillo
  • Angela G. Mertig
  • Jeffrey W. Hollister
  • Nathan Garner
  • Jianguo Liu


There is global interest in recovering locally extirpated carnivore species. Successful efforts to recover Louisiana black bear in Louisiana have prompted interest in recovery throughout the species’ historical range. We evaluated support for three potential black bear recovery strategies prior to public release of a black bear conservation and management plan for eastern Texas, United States. Data were collected from 1,006 residents living in proximity to potential recovery locations, particularly Big Thicket National Preserve. In addition to traditional logistic regression analysis, we used conditional probability analysis to statistically and visually evaluate probabilities of public support for potential black bear recovery strategies based on socioeconomic characteristics. Allowing black bears to repopulate the region on their own (i.e., without active reintroduction) was the recovery strategy with the greatest probability of acceptance. Recovery strategy acceptance was influenced by many socioeconomic factors. Older and long-time local residents were most likely to want to exclude black bears from the area. Concern about the problems that black bears may cause was the only variable significantly related to support or non-support across all strategies. Lack of personal knowledge about black bears was the most frequent reason for uncertainty about preferred strategy. In order to reduce local uncertainty about possible recovery strategies, we suggest that wildlife managers focus outreach efforts on providing local residents with general information about black bears, as well as information pertinent to minimizing the potential for human–black bear conflict.


American black bear Attitudes Conditional probability analysis Human-bear conflict Human dimensions Population recovery Ursus americanus Wildlife management 



Funding for this research was provided by Michigan State University, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Western National Parks Association, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Aeronautical Space Administration (NASA) Earth System Science (ESS) Fellowship Program, Canon-National Park Service Fellowship Program, and Safari Club International-Deep Pineywoods Chapter. In kind support was received from the National Park Service, Big Thicket Association, USDA Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Black Bear Conservation Committee. We are grateful to K. Borland, J. Egeler, S. Panken, A. Stoddard, H. Wade, and E. White for assistance with survey implementation and data entry. We also thank H. Walker, five anonymous reviewers and, most importantly, the East Texas participants of this survey. The information in this document has been funded in part by the US Environmental Protection Agency. It has been subjected to review by the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory and approved for publication. Approval does not signify that the contents reflect the views of the Agency. This is contribution number WED-09-060 of the Western Ecology Division.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anita T. Morzillo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Angela G. Mertig
    • 3
  • Jeffrey W. Hollister
    • 4
  • Nathan Garner
    • 5
  • Jianguo Liu
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Forest Ecosystems and SocietyOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Fisheries and WildlifeCenter for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  3. 3.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyMiddle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboroUSA
  4. 4.National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Atlantic Ecology DivisionOffice of Research and Development, US Environmental Protection AgencyNarragansettUSA
  5. 5.Texas Parks and Wildlife DepartmentTylerUSA

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