Dynamics of public attitudes toward bears and the role of bear hunting in Croatia



Majic A, Marino Taussig de Bodonia A, Huber D & Bunnefeld N (2011) Dynamics of public attitudes toward bears and the role of bear hunting in Croatia. Biological Conservation, 144 (12), pp. 3018-3027.

Successful carnivore conservation depends on public attitudes and acceptance levels of carnivores, and these are likely to change as circumstances change. Attitude studies repeated in time that can demonstrate such change are rare. Our study surveyed Croatian rural inhabitants in 2002 and in 2008 and analyzed their responses to detect a change in attitudes toward brown bears (Ursus arctos) over time. Important developments occurring in Croatia at the time of our research included a more centralized and more clearly defined bear management strategy, and an increase in the bear population. We constructed models to explain respondent's value orientations, their level of perceived threat and their acceptance capacity for bears. Findings show that while value orientations and the overall level of perceived threat did not change over time, bear acceptance capacity was reduced. This suggests that the increase in the bear population and perhaps the more centralized bear management reduced respondents' willingness to accept a larger bear population. We conclude that continuous public involvement in bear management is essential in order to maintain a feeling of control over the bear among the local population. Furthermore we argue that hunting is an important form of public involvement in the region, serving to reinforce existence and bequest values of the bear and increase its public acceptance.

Attitude change; Brown bear; Human dimensions; Hunting; Social carrying capacity; Croatia

Biological Conservation: Volume 144, Issue 12

Publication date31/12/2011

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Professor Nils Bunnefeld

Professor Nils Bunnefeld

Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences