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Public Attitudes toward Black Bears (Ursus americanus) and Cougars (Puma concolor) on Vancouver Island

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The sharp increase in the human population of Vancouver Island; the urban development policy favoring forest fragmentation and smaller, scattered settlements; and the relatively sizable population of large predatory mammals have contributed to one of the highest human-large predator contact zones in North America. Although some studies have evaluated public attitudes toward larger carnivores from urban/rural, gender, and generational perspectives, few have focused on black bears and cougars on the British Columbia coast. In this study, four hundred people in the densely populated southeast corner of Vancouver Island were interviewed about their attitudes toward black bear and cougar presence and behavior. The majority of interviewees had positive attitudes toward both bears and cougars, and were opposed to the shooting of carnivores, preferring trapping and removal. Contrary to expectation, few respondents saw carnivores as threats to livestock, companion animals, or children. Both black bears and cougars were perceived as serving useful functions as part of the island’s heritage and cultural development (through hunting, tourism, and recreation).

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography Vancouver Island University, Email:


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