Many factors influence human attitudes towards large carnivores. In our study we explore different factors that affect attitudes towards four such species, i.e. wolverines Gulo gulo, lynx Lynx lynx, brown bears Ursus arctos and wolves Canis lupus. We examined attitudes through a representative sample of the Norwegian population. By using 12 independent variables chosen for this study, we were able to explain around 15-45% of the variance in attitudes towards the four species. In general, people displayed more negative attitudes towards wolves and bears than towards lynx and wolverines. However, they were more positive towards increasing the small populations of the first two species than the relatively large populations of the last two. The results showed that 34-44% of the respondents reacted negatively to the question ‘What do you think should be done about the size of the carnivore population?’. On the other hand, 73-87% reacted positively to the question ‘Do these species have a right to exist in Norway?’. To the question ‘How far do you want the carnivore species from your home?’, 41-66% answered > 10 km. The most important variables explaining negative attitudes towards all the large carnivore species regarded the concern of the respondents for their own and their family's safety. People became more negative with age; those who were afraid of the carnivores were in general more negative towards them, and those who experienced financial loss (i.e. farmers) by having large carnivores in their vicinity expressed negative attitudes. On the other hand, the excitement of seeing large carnivores in their natural environment had a positive influence on attitude. People from larger communities were in general more positive, whereas those who thought they had the species in their vicinity were more negative. Big-game hunters frequently showed negative attitudes, whereas those with higher levels of education tended to be more positive. Our results indicate that attitudes towards large carnivores are complex. However, people are in general more negative towards wolves and bears, which must be taken into account in conservation programmes.
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Vol. 13 • No. 2