Early-successional habitats across the southeast United States have declined considerably in recent years amid rising human population growth and associated development. Recognizing the declining wildlife populations associated with early-successional habitats and the need for influence over habitat on private land, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission established the Cooperative Upland Habitat Restoration and Enhancement (CURE) Program in August 2000. The program targets private landowners in 3 select regions of the state (Upper Coastal Plain I, Upper Coastal Plain II, and Western Piedmont). Survey research was conducted in the 3 CURE Program areas to 1) evaluate demographic and landownership attributes of private landowners and associated land-use characteristics, 2) assess regional differences in landowner attitudes and behavior toward wildlife management on private land, 3) identify landowner attributes related to regional differences in attitude or behavior, and 4) evaluate how regional differences will impact future CURE Program guidelines. Landowner attitudes toward wildlife in North Carolina are closely linked to property use and reliance on land for direct economic income (i.e., agricultural production). Landowners who depended on their property for earned annual income were less likely to consider the aesthetic or intrinsic value of wildlife on their land than those who did not rely on their land for income. For some landowners, financial incentives alone appeared sufficient to encourage participation in the CURE Program. Other landowners were less interested in financial rewards. For these landowners, alternative forms of encouragement, such as partnerships with agencies and organizations, might be more effective. Understanding variability in landowner attitudes and behavior toward wildlife habitat is critical to the success of private-land wildlife habitat management programs. In North Carolina the success of the CURE Program will depend on tailoring the program to fit regional differences in landowner values, attitudes, and behavior.
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