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22 November 2022 Demographics, attitudes and emotions as predictors of support for bear management
Jerry J. Vaske, Craig A. Miller, Brent D. Williams, Samantha G. Pallazza, Xiohan Zang
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Context. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources was mandated by legislation to develop management plans for American Black Bears and needed Illinois residents’ preferences for bear management strategies.

Aims. The aim of this article was to examine how demographics, emotions and attitudes were related to support for three American black bear management strategies (active reintroduction, natural recolonisation, having breeding populations of black bears). Researchers have repeatedly suggested that these predictors are related to support for management actions.

Methods. Data were obtained from a mail survey sent to two populations of stakeholder groups. A total of 896 agricultural producers completed the questionnaire (response rate = 36%); 904 hunters completed the questionnaire (response rate = 36%). Five demographic variables were used in the analyses: (1) agricultural producer; (2) hunter; (3) age; (4) sex; and (5) residence growing up. Positive and negative emotional dispositions were operationalised with eight items. General attitude toward bears was measured with four items. All three management questions were asked for ‘in Illinois’ and ‘in my county’. Reliability analyses supported combining the psychological variables into indices for each construct.

Key results. Findings indicated that demographic and psychological characteristics are related to support for bear management strategies, but that these relationships are complex for a number of reasons. First, the regression beta coefficients for the demographic regression models were ‘minimal’ (M = 0.13), whereas the coefficients for psychological variables were ‘typical’ (M = 0.30). Second, not all of the demographic and psychological variables affected support for agency actions in the same way. Third, the average R2 for the three demographic models was only 16%, whereas the average R2 for the three psychological characteristics models was 53%.

ConclusionsGiven the weak relationships between demographics and support for bear management, managers may not need to always target specific groups based on their demographics.

Implications. Certain situations may warrant specific messages to target audiences; weak demographic relationships suggest that managers should be cautious when using these characteristics to target communication messages to specific groups.

© 2023 The Author(s) (or their employer(s)). Published by CSIRO Publishing
Jerry J. Vaske, Craig A. Miller, Brent D. Williams, Samantha G. Pallazza, and Xiohan Zang "Demographics, attitudes and emotions as predictors of support for bear management," Wildlife Research 50(2), 120-128, (22 November 2022).
Received: 10 December 2021; Accepted: 13 October 2022; Published: 22 November 2022
agricultural producers
bear management
bear recolonization
bear reintroduction
emotional dispositions
general attitude
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