Knowledge of and atittudes toward brown bear (Ursus arctos), lynx (Lynx lynx), and wolf (Canis lupus) in Latvia were assessed through surveys. Brown bears are rare and protected, whereas lynx and wolf are game species. Questionnaires were distributed in public schools and to a self-selected sample of readers of a national hunter's magazine. The Latvian public generally supported large carnivore conservation. Among the 3 species considered, the most positive attitudes were toward brown bears. Negative attitudes were a result of real or perceived effects large carnivores have on livestock husbandry and game management. Nearly 70% of respondents thought protection of bears should be continued, whereas 24% of respondents supported control of bear populations. A majority of respondents believed that wolf and lynx populations should be controlled, but very few respondents supported total eradication of large carnivores in Latvia. A greater proportion of rural inhabitants favored control of carnivore populations than residents in other locales. In contrast, hunters (n = 157, almost entirely male, mostly rural, and somewhat older) favored unlimited harvesting of large carnivores. Most respondents expressed interest in obtaining more information on large carnivores, suggesting a role for an expanded education campaign.
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Vol. 15 • No. 2