Human–wildlife conflict challenges wildlife managers globally. In Japan, the Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus) is listed as a vulnerable species under IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species. In Hyogo Prefecture it is listed as an endangered local population, but bears are considered a nuisance because of agricultural damage and occasional human casualties. The bear population in the prefecture is increasing, and human–bear conflicts are also increasing. We conducted a mail survey in July 2010 of residents in 58 villages (n = 2,315) to examine their perceptions of risks, government performance, and acceptance of bears. Survey response was 52% (n = 1,210). Eighty-one percent of respondents reported that risks from bears had increased and 83% believed there were too many bears around their village. Risk perception was negatively correlated with acceptance capacity of bears. In contrast to our prediction, increased agreement that government provided necessary information was associated with greater perceived risk from bears. However, agreement that the government listened to people's concerns was a significant factor predicting respondents' behavior in taking preventive actions such as reporting bear sightings. This study suggests that, by providing problem-prevention information and adequate opportunities for residents to voice their concerns, government officials may be able to increase residents' confidence in their ability to prevent bear-related problems and their tolerance of interactions with bears. If widespread, such outcomes would improve conservation of bears of Japan.
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Vol. 24 • No. 1