Human–black bear (Ursus americanus) interactions (HBI) have been increasing in frequency and magnitude in North America since the 1960s, and many wildlife management agencies are turning to proactive management actions to reverse this trend. Information and education efforts (IEE) are the most common proactive management actions used; however, few studies monitor behavior and attitudes of residents exposed to HBI and IEE. We used a case study in the Rattlesnake Valley of Missoula, Montana, USA to describe the diversity of anthropogenic attractants available to black bears based on self-reported human behaviors, and to test for changes in resident behavior and attitudes over a 4-year exposure to HBI and IEE. We identified >5 non-vegetative attractants, and >12 species of native and non-native vegetation available to black bears. Comparing the responses from mail questionnaires in 2004 (n = 369, response rate = 74%) and 2008 (n = 560, response rate = 60.1%), we found that the prevalence of 1 important behavior (outdoor garbage storage) decreased, and support for management actions used to deal with HBI increased, suggesting behavior and attitudes of residents changed from 2004 to 2008. We suggest that bear managers developing proactive management plans for HBI must incorporate (1) the varying effects of reducing the prevalence of 1 or numerous attractants, (2) the changing dynamics of human behavior and attitudes, and (3) the importance of incorporating monitoring and evaluation procedures.
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Vol. 22 • No. 1