A variety of approaches have been used by wildlife agencies to educate people about encounters with American black bears (Ursus americanus), but little evaluation of their effectiveness has occurred. We distributed brochures, posters, and adhesive signs with messages about how to be safe around black bears in 2 areas of New Mexico where this information had not been widely disseminated and where encounters between people and black bears were common. To evaluate the effectiveness of our efforts, we used identical survey instruments to poll residents and campers in the 2 areas where safety information was widely distributed (treatment areas) and residents and campers in 3 other areas where information was not distributed (reference areas). Knowledge levels of respondents in treatment areas were higher than those of respondents in reference areas for residents and to a lesser extent for campers. Residents in treatment areas had the highest knowledge levels of all sample groups. Respondents generally understood the critical role anthropogenic food plays in creating nuisance behavior. We discuss recommendations for further research.
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Vol. 19 • No. 1