ArticlePDF Available

Public attitude towards brown bears (Ursus arctos) in Slovenia


Abstract and Figures

In northern Slovenia a radical change in brown bear (Ursus arctos) management – from a policy of bear suppression to a policy of bear protection – resulted in a sharp increase in sheep predation by bears. In the bear core area in southern Slovenia, on the other hand, bears have always been present, cause little damage and are an important game species. This zoned management provided a quasi “natural experiment” to compare attitudes and knowledge between two areas of different bear history, management and damage level. Using a questionnaire survey we sampled 924 locals and 177 hunters in the two areas. Contrary to our expectation, we documented a very positive attitude towards bears, in both study areas and for both target groups. Apparently, regional differences in the damage level per se and the status as a game species are not the driving force shaping attitudes towards bears in Slovenia. The key factor in predicting the attitude towards bears was the perception of how harmful the bears are. Knowledge and socio-demographic factors were only of minor importance. Even though attitude towards bears was positive, support of the present policy of bear expansion was low.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Public attitudes towards brown bears (Ursus arctos) in Slovenia
Petra Kaczensky
, Mateja Blazic
, Hartmut Gossow
Institute of Wildlife Biology and Game Management at the Agricultural University of Vienna, Peter Jordan Strae 76, A-1190 Vienna, Austria
Wildlife Research and Management Unit, Technische Universit
unchen, Linderhof 2, D-82488 Ettal, Germany
Slovenian Hunters Association, Zupanciceva 9, SLO-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Received 8 April 2003; received in revised form 14 October 2003; accepted 21 October 2003
In northern Slovenia a radical change in brown bear (Ursus arctos) management – from a policy of bear suppression to a policy
of bear protection – resulted in a sharp increase in sheep predation by bears. In the bear core area in southern Slovenia, on the other
hand, bears have always been present, cause little damage and are an important game species. This zoned management provided a
quasi ‘‘natural experiment’’ to compare attitudes and knowledge between two areas of different bear history, management and
damage level. Using a questionnaire survey we sampled 924 locals and 177 hunters in the two areas. Contrary to our expectation, we
documented a very positive attitude towards bears, in both study areas and for both target groups. Apparently, regional differences
in the damage level per se and the status as a game species are not the driving force shaping attitudes towards bears in Slovenia. The
key factor in predicting the attitude towards bears was the perception of how harmful the bears are. Knowledge and socio-de-
mographic factors were only of minor importance. Even though attitude towards bears was positive, support of the present policy of
bear expansion was low.
Ó2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Human dimension; Management; Sheep predation
1. Introduction
In most areas where humans coexist with large car-
nivores, conflicts exist (Sillero-Zubiri and Laurenson,
2001). In Europe these conflicts largely mean livestock
predation (Linnell et al., 1996; Kaczensky, 1999), com-
petition for wild ungulates (Dahle, 1996) or in more rare
cases attacks on people (Swenson et al., 1999). In the past
direct persecution in combination with habitat destruc-
tion led to the near extinction of brown bears (Ursus
arctos), wolves (Canis lupus) and lynx (Lynx lynx)in
western, southwestern and central Europe (Breitenmo-
ser, 1998; Kaczensky, 1999). Dwindling populations of
large carnivores on the one hand, and a high degree of
urbanization on the other hand, led to a change in atti-
tude towards large carnivores. Today, nature conserva-
tion and wildlife protection have become important
public issues (Schr
oder, 1998) and international treaties
(e.g. Council of Europe, 1979; Council of the European
Union, 1992) even demand the restoration of large car-
nivores to suitable areas.
Large carnivores are returning to or increasing in
many regions of Europe, due to natural re-colonization
and re-introduction projects (Boitani, 2000; Breitenmo-
ser et al., 2000; Swenson et al., 2000). Public attitudes
are generally believed to be most positive in areas where
carnivores are absent (Kellert et al., 1996; Zimmermann
et al., 2001) or in areas with an unbroken carnivore-
human coexistence (Bath and Majic, 2001; Boitani,
1995). But while attitudes might be favorable in a large
portion of todayÕs urban population, locally the old
conflicts still exist, with many farmers and hunters
strongly opposed to carnivore recovery. They are the
groups most directly affected, and they are afraid of
Biological Conservation 118 (2004) 661–674
Corresponding author. Present address: Zoo Salzburg, Morzgerstr.
1, A-5081 Anif, Austria.
E-mail addresses: (P. Kaczensky), (M. Blazic), (H. Gos-
0006-3207/$ - see front matter Ó2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
damage to livestock and game, increased costs and
working efforts, foreign involvement and new restric-
tions (Egli, 1998; Hunziker et al., 1998; Kvaalen, 1998;
ar, 2000; Kaczensky, 2003). In the absence of
large carnivores, locals have often abandoned tradi-
tional herding methods and may have lost the knowl-
edge about the predators themselves. The re-appearance
of large carnivores, therefore, may result in locally high
damage levels (Kaczensky, 1999) and/or a high level of
fear among local residents (Szinovatz, 1997; Zimmer-
mann et al., 2001). In addition, with the perceived social
pressure to act in a certain way, this may result in a
highly negative attitude across a whole region. Even
though the actual financial losses might be small, the
recovery of large carnivores is seen as a threat to the
traditional lifestyle and often highlight a gap between
urban and rural people in modern society (Breitenmo-
ser, 1998; Kvaalen, 1998).
In several eastern European countries the situation
was somewhat different for the bear. In countries like
Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria or Romania the bear was,
and still is, seen as a valuable game species and it was
largely huntersÕinterest that resulted in stable or in-
creasing bear populations, despite bear-human conflicts
(Kaczensky, 1999; Simonic, 1994). With the fall of the
iron curtain and the subsequent democratization and re-
privatization, the hunting lobby has lost political power
and bear managers have to acknowledge, that in the
multi-use landscapes of Europe, the future of large
carnivores will depend on a policy accepted by all local
people, and not foremost to suit one interest group
People that hold a strong positive attitude towards
bears will most likely: (1) support actions favourable to
bears, (2) tolerate bear damage, and (3) maintain their
position in case of conflict (Ajzen, 1993; Bright and
Manfredo, 1995). Usually one expects more positive
attitudes with increasing knowledge (Bath and Bu-
chanan, 1989). But especially in the case of a highly
controversial large carnivore species, a negative rela-
tionship between knowledge level and acceptance can be
found (Bath, 1994; Bright and Manfredo, 1995; Kellert
et al., 1996; Szinovatz, 1997). Threatened species status
and declining population trend generally result in a
more positive attitude towards large carnivores, as do
financial or emotional incentives (Kellert et al., 1996).
Alternatively, the actual or perceived threat a large
carnivore poses to human life and property has a strong
negative influence on attitudes towards large carnivores
(Egli, 1998; Korenjak, 1995; Kellert et al., 1996; Kvaa-
len, 1998; Prosen, 2001). Generally, older people, fe-
males, people with a lower education level, people
working in natural resource dependent professions,
people living in a rural environment and people living in
the carnivore distribution range tend to be more nega-
tive than their respective counterparts (Hook and
Robinson, 1982; Bath, 1991; Kellert, 1994; Kellert et al.,
The Alps in Central Europe, although heavily fre-
quented by people, still provide large stretches of suit-
able habitat for brown bears (Corsi et al., 1998; Knauer,
2000). Presently the bear population in Slovenia is the
only source for natural re-colonization of the Alps and
provides the only link between the large bear population
of the Dinara Mountain range and the small and frag-
mented bear occurrence in the Alps (Adamic, 1997;
Adamic, 2003). In Slovenia bear management is zoned.
In southern Slovenia bears have always been present,
the damage level is low and the bear is an important
game species. Outside the core area, bears have been
suppressed until 1992, when increasing international
interest for the natural re-colonization of the Alps led to
the protection of bears in the outer area (Simonic, 1994).
Bears are consequently reappearing in the subalpine and
alpine regions, where in the absence of large predators,
extensive sheep farming has become widespread, sup-
ported by a subsidy system to adjust Slovenian agri-
culture to European Union common agricultural policy
(CAP, Savelli et al., 1998). The reappearance of bears
has resulted in increasing predation and triggered in-
tense and controversial discussions among the various
interest groups and bear managers, challenging the
present expansion policy (Adamic, 1996; Adamic, 1997;
Kaczensky, 2000a; Kaczensky, 2000b; Krystufek et al.,
The radical change of the bear management in
northern Slovenia in 1992, from a policy of bear sup-
pression to a policy of bear protection, was not ac-
companied by a public relations program, nor were local
people involved in the decision making process. This
situation provided a quasi ‘‘natural experiment’’ to
compare attitudes and knowledge in two areas of dif-
ferent bear history, management and damage level.
Using a questionnaire we sampled two target groups,
the general public and hunters to test the following
(1) The high damage level that accompanies the return
of the bear, will result in locals in the outer area be-
ing more negative towards bears, less supportive of
the present policy of bear expansion, and more
likely to consider bears as harmful than people in
the core area.
(2) Because of the long absence of bears, people in the
outer area will know less about bears, than people
in the core area.
(3) Because the bear is a game species, hunters will have
a greater knowledge, will consider the bear more
useful, and will have a more positive attitude to-
wards bears and the present policy of bear expan-
sion, than the local population.
(4) Attitude towards bears is a key variable to predict
support of the present policy of bear expansion.
662 P. Kaczensky et al. / Biological Conservation 118 (2004) 661–674
The aim of the study was therefore to provide base-
line data on peoplesÕattitude towards bears, identify key
factors influencing attitude and knowledge gaps, and
assess peoplesÕsupport of the present bear management
in Slovenia. The results should help to: (1) encourage
and facilitate communication between bear managers,
hunters and locals – the first step to initiate public in-
volvement in wildlife management and (2) develop
public information that focus on the concerns, misbe-
liefs and key issues of the various interest groups.
2. Method
2.1. Study area
We chose one study area in both the low conflict area
in the south (core area) and in the high conflict area in
the north (outer area) for comparison (Fig. 1). The core
area covers about 5200 km2and more than 80% of the
estimated total population of 300–500 bears live there.
About 40 bears are harvested annually using a quota
system during a limited hunting season. In 1998 at least
20,000 sheep, or 30% of the total sheep flock were
present in the core area. Most sheep are kept in pens in
the municipality where they are registered. From 1995 to
1998 annual bear predation in the core area increased
from 21 to 132 sheep (Slovenian Ministry of Agricul-
ture, unpubl. data). In 1998 each bear killed an average
of 0.4 sheep and total annual bear damage was about
0.7% of the total sheep flock in the core area.
The outer area covers ca. 14,500 km2and bears
could be killed without limit year-round until 1991
(Simonic, 1994). To allow for increased dispersal of
bears into the Alps, this management was changed and
now bears in the outer area are fully protected. How-
ever, special permission to shoot problem individuals
may be granted by the Ministry of Agriculture. About
47,000 sheep are present in the outer area and from
1995 to 1998 predation increased from 113 to 559
sheep/year (Slovenian Ministry of Agriculture, unpubl.
data). In 1998 each bear killed on average 7 sheep and
the total annual bear damage was about 1.2% of the
total sheep flock in the outer area. We selected our
study areas in the core- and outer area so that the
human population parameters were similar (Statistical
Office of Slovenia, unpubl. data; Table 1), but the
damage situation was different (Fig. 1).
2.2. Survey methods
The target groups studied were (1) the general public
P16-years-old and (2) hunters of the local hunting
clubs. We were concerned about low return rates be-
cause people in Slovenia are flooded with questionnaire
surveys through the regular post. Accordingly, we dis-
tributed the questionnaires personally with the help of
biology students from the University of Ljubljana. We
distributed 100 questionnaires to hunters, and 500 to
locals in each of the two study areas. For locals we
distributed half in villages with up to 700 inhabitants
(rural) and half in towns with more than 700 inhabitants
(urban). The number of questionnaires distributed in
each town or village was proportional to the number of
inhabitants. We chose people by selecting houses ran-
domly on the map and handing the questionnaire to the
Fig. 1. Location of the communities surveyed for their attitude towards and knowledge about bears in 1998. The study area in central Slovenia is
located in the bear core area where bears have always been present, are a game species and cause little damage, whereas in the north-western study
area bears are rare, fully protected and cause more damage.
P. Kaczensky et al. / Biological Conservation 118 (2004) 661–674 663
person who opened the door or was seen in front of the
house. If people were not at home or refused to accept
the questionnaire, we approached the next neighboring
house in the same way. We left the questionnaire with
the person and collected it a few hours later. To test for
a possible nonresponse bias, we noted sex and estimated
age of people who refused to participate. Hunters were
sampled by contacting the presidents of 6 hunting clubs
randomly selected in each of the 2 study areas. We ei-
ther distributed the questionnaires personally during
huntersÕmeetings or gave them to the president for
2.3. Questionnaire design
The questionnaire from Bath (1991) was revised and
adapted to the Slovenian situation, and translated into
the Slovenian language. To identify potential problem-
atic questions or confusion with instructions we dis-
cussed the questionnaire with a group of students and
then qualitatively pre-tested it with 10 locals. The final
questionnaire comprised 71 questions organized in 6
sections and was printed as a small booklet with a col-
ored cover. All attitudinal questions were measured on a
5-point Likert scale ranging from ‘‘strongly agree’’ to
Table 1
Parameters of the local population living in both study areas as compared to the local population sampled with questionnaires
Population parameters Core area Outer area
Area Sample Statistical data Area Sample Statistical data
Total population 24,121 18,410
Total population P16 years 18,301 455 2.5% sampled 13,435 469 3.5% sampled
Urban population (in towns
with >700 inhabitants) (%)
85 50 76 50
Age structure (%) v2residuals v2residuals
16–19 years 8 5 )10.6 6 5 )11.1
20–29 years 21 18 )11.5 14 25 23.9
30–39 years 22 22 0.9 16 19 )12.6
40–49 years 16 21 25.2 13 20 17.6
50–59 years 15 16 3.9 12 15 5.8
60–69 years 10 11 5.4 10 12 )0.4
>70 years 8 5 )13.3 8 5 )23.6
v2sign 0.003 60.001
Missing cases 27 14
Sex ratio (%) v2residuals v2residuals
Females 52 46 )28.3 52 45 )32.7
Males 48 54 28.3 48 55 32.7
v2sign 0.007 0.002
Missing cases 16 4
Profession (%) v2residuals v2residuals
Farmer + forester 6 7 5.0 7 4 )13.4
Other 94 93 )5.0 93 96 13.4
v2sign 0.325 0.015
Missing cases 14 14
Working–nonworking (%)
Working 63 – 65
Student 11 – 11
Pupil 1 – 1
Housewife 5 – 5
Retired 20 – 18
Education (%) v2residuals v2residuals
Primary school 45 16 )128.7 43 16 )123.7
Secondary school 45 67 91.9 44 58 61.4
University 4 14 45.4 5 21 73.2
Other 5 3 )8.6 6 5 )11.0
v2sign 60.001 60.001
Missing cases 14 12
Illiterates (%) 0.2 0.3
664 P. Kaczensky et al. / Biological Conservation 118 (2004) 661–674
‘‘strongly disagree’’. ‘‘Do not know’’ options were not
included to encourage people to give a statement. Most
questions about knowledge were stated as multiple-
choice questions, also offering a ‘‘do not know’’ option.
2.4. Return rate and representatively of the sample
The sampling scheme proved to be very efficient. Cost
averaged about 3.2 US$ per successful questionnaire
and return rate was 98.5% for locals and 88% for
hunters. Acceptance rate for locals (% that agreed to
participate in the survey when first approached) was also
high and averaged 75%. For analysis we discharged all
questionnaires with obvious nonsense answers, and
those filled in by respondents <16-years-old. Thus of the
1173 questionnaires collected, we used 1101 (95%) for
final analysis. Our sample comprised 2.5% and 3.5% of
the local population, and 24% and 27% of the hunters in
the core- and outer study area, respectively.
The socio-demographic profile of our local respon-
dents was largely representative of the total population
of the region, except that people with only a primary
school education were strongly underrepresented in our
sample (Table 1). However, our regression models did
not identify education as an important factor predicting
attitude-, number-, utility- and knowledge score (Table
4). Nonrespondents were strongly biased towards fe-
males (p<0:005, v2residuals: )50.0) and slightly biased
towards people between 16 and 39 years (p<0:005, all
v2residuals <33:0Þ. The hunter sample was comprised
Table 2
Questions used to calculate mean score values
Score CronbachÕsa-values n
Attitude towards bears – attitude score: 0.92 981
1. Which answer best describes your feelings towards brown bears?
2. Is having bears in Slovenia (SLO) good – bad – neither good nor bad?
3. It is important to maintain bears in SLO so our children can enjoy them
4. It is important to have ‘‘viable’’ populations of bears in SLO
5. Whether or not I would get to see a bear, it is important for me that they exist in SLO
6. Bears are a sign of an intact nature
7. Because many bears live in other parts of Europe, there is no need to have bears in SLOa
Attitude towards a further increase in the bear population – number score: 0.74 1024
1. Bear numbers in SLO should be high enough, so bears can move to Italy and Austria
2. Bears should not be hunted at all in SLO
3. If bears are hunted, hunting should be restricted to specific areas
4. Bears should be allowed to be hunted year round in SLOa
5. Bear numbers should be increased
6. There is already enough bears in SLOa
7. Bears should only live in restricted parts of SLOa
8. Bear should be eliminated in areas with sheep problemsa
Perception of usefulness/harmfulness of bears – utility score: 0.78 1017
1. Bears have a negative impact on hunting opportunitiesa
2. Bears greatly reduce deer numbersa
3. Bears increase the value of a hunting area
4. Bears kill a lot of sheep in SLOa
5. In areas where bears live close to sheep, their primary food is sheepa
6. Having bears increases tourism to SLO
7. In areas where bears live close to people, bear attacks on humans are commona
8. I would be afraid to go into the woods if bears are presenta
Knowledge level – knowledge score: 0.64 1101
1. How many bears do you think live in SLO?
2. Do you believe bear numbers in SLO are increasing–decreasing remain the same?
3. Do you believe bears exist in the area between Vrhnika, Krim and Cerknica?
4. Do you believe bears exist in the area between Tolmin, Bohinjsca Bistrica and Kobarid?
5. Do bears get shot in SLO?
6. Do bears kill sheep in SLO?
7. How much space does one adult brown bear need?
8. Female bears have young every year
9. Most bears weigh less than 150 kg
10. Bears mainly feed on meat
11. Farmers are paid money for sheep killed by bears
12. Bears can only be hunted in some parts of SLO
Coding reversed.
P. Kaczensky et al. / Biological Conservation 118 (2004) 661–674 665
almost exclusively of males (99%) and had a higher
percentage of farmers and foresters compared to the
local sample. No socio-demographic data on all hunters
in the study areas were available for comparison.
2.5. Data analysis
All data analysis was done with SPSS version 8.0
and 9.0. For statistical tests we used p<0:05 for sig-
nificance level. To minimize random errors (Zeller and
Carmines, 1980), our questions were constructed in a
way that enabled us to group similar questions. We
calculated 4 mean scores: attitude towards bears (atti-
tude score), the perception how useful/harmful the
bears are (utility score), the support for the present
policy of bear expansion (number score) and knowl-
edge level (knowledge score) (Table 2). Answers were
coded in the way that positive feelings were expressed
by high values on the Likert scale and negative feelings
by low values. For knowledge questions all answers
were coded as dichotomous variables, using 1 for
correct answer and 0 for incorrect, do not know and
missing answers. Reliability estimates for our scores
were high, supporting our grouping of related ques-
tions (Zeller and Carmines, 1980; Table 2). Only the
knowledge score was at the lower limit (a¼0:64; Li-
twin, 1995) which is most likely the result of the mul-
tidimensional nature of the questions and might also
derive from frequent guessing of the multiple choice
questions. We used ANOVA statistics to compare
scores among target groups and study areas and t-tests
to compare scores between study areas and between
target groups.
To evaluate which factors influence attitude and
whether attitude is a good predictor for support of the
present policy of bear expansion we used stepwise
multiple regression statistics following a simple causal
model (Fig. 2). To assess the influence of each variable
separately from the other variables, we additionally
calculated PearsonÕs correlation coefficients for all
variables initially included in the model. For socio-de-
mographic variables, however, we calculated correlation
coefficients only for those variables that had a significant
influence in the final model.
Key questions, and questions concerning the present
bear management were tabulated. For ease of interpre-
tation, all questions were regrouped by combining the
answers strongly agree and agree into one category agree
and strongly disagree and disagree into one category
3. Results
3.1. Comparison between study areas and target groups
We did not find large differences in the attitude to-
wards bears between respondents of the two study areas,
nor between target groups within the study areas (Fig. 3,
Table 3). Even though t-tests revealed significant differ-
ences in the attitude between locals in the core area and
locals in the outer area, the difference was very small.
Fig. 2. Causal model used for testing of the relationship of different variables on the attitude towards bears and thus the support for the present bear
expansion policy in Slovenia.
666 P. Kaczensky et al. / Biological Conservation 118 (2004) 661–674
Locals and hunters in both areas had a score close to 4
which on a Likert scale of 1–5 (strongly dislike to strongly
like) means that the average respondent liked bears.
Even though attitude was high, support of the present
policy of bear expansion was only low to moderate
(Fig. 3) and contrary to our expectation hunters were
less supportive of the present policy of bear expansion
than locals.
Knowledge score was clearly greater for hunters than
for locals (Fig. 3). On average, hunters knew the correct
answers for 3–4 more questions (25–33%) than locals.
Within the target groups locals and hunters in the core
area scored somewhat higher than their counterparts in
the outer area – the average difference, however, was
only 1 question (8%).
The utility score was moderate for all respondents
(Fig. 3). Contrary to our expectations, both hunters and
locals consider the bear slightly more useful than
harmful, regardless of the damage level in the area and
regardless of whether or not they are allowed to hunt
them. Our findings somewhat support assumption 2, but
neither assumption 1 nor 3.
3.2. Variables influencing attitude towards bears and the
support of the present policy of bear expansion
Attitude of locals and hunters was best predicted by
utility score and whether bears were regarded as dan-
gerous for humans (Table 4). For hunters knowledge
score and for locals knowledge score and the perception
Fig. 3. Distribution of average score values separate by target group and study area. The box indicates the median, 25% and 75% quartiles and
whiskers are the largest values that are not outliers, while circles mark outliers. We used ANOVA statistics and t-tests (with Bonferoni and Tamhane-
T2 corrections depending on equality of variance) to check for differences in mean score values between study areas within target groups and between
target group within study areas. * mark significant differences in the mean score value on the p<0:05 level and ** on the p<0:001 level.
Table 3
Mean score values for locals and hunters in the two study areas
Variable Locals Hunters
Core area Outer area Core area Outer area
Attitude score (1–5) Mean 4.08 3.83 4.21 4.07
SD 0.91 1.02 0.99 0.93
Number score (1–5) Mean 2.84 2.71 2.31 2.21
SD 0.74 0.80 0.52 0.65
Utility score (1–5) Mean 3.32 3.13 3.21 3.30
SD 0.61 0.59 0.65 0.69
Knowledge score (1–12) Mean 6.81 6.00 9.86 9.07
SD 2.24 2.19 1.55 1.81
P. Kaczensky et al. / Biological Conservation 118 (2004) 661–674 667
of the bear population trend also were of some impor-
tance. Knowledge score and perceived status of the bear
population were only moderately correlated for locals
(Pearson correlation coefficient r¼0:359, p<0:001)
and only slightly correlated for hunters (Pearson corre-
lation coefficient r¼0:175, p¼0:21). Socio-demo-
graphic factors were of minor importance for locals and
of no importance for hunters. For locals, attitude tended
to be more negative for farmers or foresters, females and
people with a lower education level. However these
Table 4
Stepwise multiple regression models to test the influence of different variables following the basic model in Fig. 2
Independent variable Correlation coefficient of single variablea
Locals (n¼924) Hunters (n¼177)
Dependent variable: number score
(1) Attitude score 0.63** 0.48**
Total model fit ðr2Þ0.40** 0.23**
Dependent variable: attitude score
(1) Utility score 0.63** 0.66**
(2) Is the bear dangerous for humans?b)0.49** )0.44**
(3) Educationc0.27**
(4) Perceived status of the bear populationd)0.22** )0.16*
(5) Knowledge score 0.19** 0.38**
(6) Forester or farmer )0.14**
(7) Female )0.06 ns
Total model fit (r2) 0.47** 0.48**
Model equation with standardized beta values:
Locals: attitude
score ¼1.17 + 0.49*(1) )0.16*(2) )0.16*(4) + 0.15*(5) )0.10*(6) + 0.09*(3) )0.08*(7)
Hunters: attitude score ¼0.58 + 0.55*(1) + 0.18*(5) )0.12*(2)
Dependent variable: utility score
(1) Is the bear dangerous for humans? )0.54** )0.50**
(2) Own negative experiencee)0.32** )0.26**
(3) Female )0.22**
(4) Urban 0.21**
(5) Education 0.16** 0.24**
(6) Core area 0.10**
Total model fit(r2) 0.41** 0.29**
Model equation with standardized beta values
Locals: utility score ¼3.25 )0.46*(1) )0.23*(3) )0.20*(2) + 0.13*(5) + 0.12*(6) + 0.06*(4)
Hunters: utility score ¼3.08 )0.48*(1) )0.19*(5)
Dependent variable: knowledge score
(1) How often do you walk in the forest?f0.26** 0.16*
(2) Female )0.24**
(3) Core area 0.18** 0.23**
(4) Education 0.14** 0.21**
(5) Interest level in bear issuesg0.12** 0.31**
(6) Forester or farmer 0.08*
(7) Age 0.06 ns
Total model fit (r2) 0.15** 0.19**
Model equation with standardized beta values:
Locals: knowledge
score ¼4.18 + 0.18*(1) + 0.17*(3) )0.15*(2) + 0.11*(5) + 0.11*(7) + 0.09*(4) + 0.07*(6)
Hunters: knowledge score ¼9.29 + 0.32*(5) + 0.24*(3) + 0.17*(4)
** Significant on the p<0:01 level, * Significant on the p<0:05 level, ns ¼not significant.
Dichotomous variables: 0 ¼no, 1 ¼yes.
Rank variable: 1 ¼decreasing, 2 ¼remain the same, 3 ¼increasing.
Rank variable: 1 ¼primary school, 2 ¼secondary school, 3 ¼university.
Mean of the dichotomous variables: ‘‘Have you or your family experienced any damage by bears?’’ and ‘‘Did you ever feel threatened by a bear?’’.
Rank variable: 1 ¼never, 2 ¼few times (1–7 days/years), 3 ¼often (8–30 days/years), 4 ¼very often (>30 days/years).
Rank variable: 1 ¼not at all, 2 ¼somewhat, 3 ¼a great deal.
668 P. Kaczensky et al. / Biological Conservation 118 (2004) 661–674
variables did not add much additional predictive value
to overall model fit, as utility score and the perception of
whether bears were regarded as dangerous for humans
already explained 45% and 42% of the variation in at-
titude score of locals and hunters, respectively. Thus,
neither knowledge level, nor socio-demographic vari-
ables seem to be key variables of peoples attitude to-
wards bears.
Concerning the utility score, for locals the most im-
portant parameters were whether people regarded the
bear as dangerous for humans, own negative experience
and gender (females being more negative than males)
(Table 4). These factors explained 32% of the variation
in utility score, with education, study area and urban
versus rural environment adding further predictive va-
lue. For hunters the two variables, whether or not the
bear is dangerous for humans and education, best ex-
plained variations in the utility score.
Model fit for knowledge score was rather poor (Table
4). Socio-demographic factors, interest level and pres-
ence in the forest only explained 15% of the overall
variation. Of the 6 socio-demographic variables tested
for, only rural versus urban environment did not add
any additional explanatory power to model fit. For
hunters, interest level, study area and education were the
variables that best explained variation in knowledge
score, together explaining 19% of the overall variation in
model fit.
Attitude indeed proved to be an important predictor
of support for the present policy of bear expansion, at
least for locals where it explained 40% of the variation in
number score (Table 4). For hunters model fit was much
lower, but attitude alone still explained 23% of the
variation in number score.
3.3. Relevant issues for bear management
3.3.1. Interest level
Interest level provides a measure how well target
groups are reached by public information efforts. Our
survey showed that interest level in the bear issue was
high, as 59% of hunters and 50% of locals were greatly
interested in learning more about bears. Certainty level
on the other hand was low, as only 33% of hunters and
9% of locals felt very knowledgeable about bears. The
majority of respondents in both target groups agreed
that more information (88% of hunters and 92% of lo-
cals) and research (70% of hunters and 78% of locals)
about bears is necessary in Slovenia. However, interest
level was negatively correlated with attitude score
(PearsonÕs correlation coefficient r¼0:511 for hunters
and r¼0:475 for locals; p<0:001). And in a sub-
sample of respondents with negative attitude (attitude
score 62), only 9% of locals and 30% of hunters were
interested in learning more about bears. There was no
significant difference in the interest level of locals and
hunters between the two study areas (Chi2-tests, all
3.3.2. Fear of the bear
Utility score and especially the perceived danger
bears pose for humans were key factors predicting
peopleÕs attitude towards bears. In spite of the high at-
titude score, a fairly high percentage of locals are afraid
of bears. Forty-one percent of locals think that bears are
dangerous for people and 45% agree that they would be
afraid to go into the forest if bears were present. Fewer
hunters regarded the bear dangerous (35%) and only
13% would be afraid to go into the forest if bears were
A fairly high percentage of locals and hunters had
negative experiences with bears. Twenty percent of
hunters and locals had felt threatened by a bear and 6%
and 26% had experienced damage by a bear within the
family and hunting club, respectively. The number of
locals and hunters that experienced damages did not
differ between study areas (v2¼1:071, p¼0:301 for
locals and v2¼1:019, p¼0:313 for hunters), but sig-
nificantly more people had felt threatened by bears in
the core area as compared to the outer area
(v2¼14:284, p<0:001 for locals and v2¼78:295,
3.3.3. Estimate of bear population size, trend and damage
caused by bears
Locals and especially hunters in both, the outer area
and the core area, opposed a further increase in the bear
population size (Fig. 3). An evaluation of the answers
concerning the perception of the bear population size
and the damage level showed that local respondents
consistently underestimated the bear population size
and the extent of sheep predation problems in Slovenia,
but perceived the bear population trend largely as in-
creasing. Hunters most often estimated the bear popu-
lation size correctly, perceived the bear population size
as increasing, but also underestimated the extent of
sheep predation.
3.3.4. Support of the present bear management
Even though locals and hunters did not agree with the
present policy of bear expansion, they largely agreed
with the present bear hunting regulations, except that
hunters were ambivalent to zoned hunting management,
whereas locals supported it (Table 5). Both target
groups agreed that bears should be eliminated in areas
where sheep predation occurs and that farmers should
be paid compensation for losses by bears; but only 68%
of hunters and 45% of locals actually knew about the
existence of a compensation program (Table 5).
Seventy-nine percent of hunters and 61% of locals
wrote comments on the open end questions ‘‘What is
the most important issue concerning brown bear
P. Kaczensky et al. / Biological Conservation 118 (2004) 661–674 669
management in Slovenia?’’ The topics listed most often
by hunters and locals were comments on the distribution
range, with most people favoring a restriction of the
distribution range. The second most important topic
was the number of bears in Slovenia with most locals
favoring a ‘‘well balanced population size’’ and most
hunters favoring a reduction in the population size.
These findings are in accordance with the values for the
number score.
4. Discussion
4.1. A high attitude score – can we lean back?
We did not find the expected largely negative attitude
towards bears in the outer area. Quite contrary to our
expectation we documented a very positive attitude to-
wards bears, in both study areas and for both target
groups. Apparently, regional differences in the damage
level per se and the status as a game species are not the
driving force shaping attitude towards bears in Slovenia.
This is quite contrary to findings from Norway, where a
high damage level resulted in a largely negative attitude
towards bears, which was most pronounced in the high
damage areas (Szinovatz, 1997). On the other hand,
damage levels in Slovenia are much lower than in
Norway (Kaczensky, 1999) and the positive attitude
towards bears is consistent with findings from neigh-
boring Italy (Dupr
e et al., 1998) and Austria (Korenjak,
1995; Szinovatz and Gossow, 2001).
The low importance of the place of residence might
be explained by the small size of Slovenia (20,000
km2). Many people that live in small villages actually
work in the capital Ljubljana or in other larger cities.
This high mobility of people may dissolve the social
cohesiveness of a region. In addition, few locals stated
that they work as farmers (4.4%) and few experienced
any bear damage themselves or within the family (6.1%).
The proportion of people directly affected by bear
Table 5
Distribution of answers of the two target groups locals and hunters on questions concerning their support of the present bear management in
Target group Disagree Neutral Agree Majority in accordance with
present management
Bear numbers in SLO should be high enough,so bears can move to Italy and Austria
Hunters 59 18 23 No
Locals 40 32 28 No
Bear numbers should be increased
Hunters 85 10 5 No clear statement
Locals 56 25 19 By bear managers
Bears should live in all parts of Slovenia
Hunters 77 9 14 No clear statement
Locals 58 20 22 By bear managers
Bears should only live in restricted parts of Slovenia
Hunters 14 10 75 No clear statement
Locals 25 14 60 By bear managers
Bear management has to be done together with the neighboring countries
Hunters 17 11 72 Yes
Locals 7 13 80 Yes
Bears should not be hunted at all
Hunters 89 6 5 Yes
Locals 48 19 33 Yes
Bears should be hunted year-round in Slovenia
Hunters 69 7 24 Yes
Locals 58 20 22 Yes
If bears are hunted, hunting should be restricted to specific areas
Hunters 47 6 47 Ambivalent
Locals 19 17 64 Yes
Bears should be eliminated in areas with sheep problems
Hunters 31 15 54 No
Locals 26 19 55 No
Money should be paid to farmers that have sheep killed by bears
Hunters 5 1 94 Yes
Locals 6 6 88 Yes
670 P. Kaczensky et al. / Biological Conservation 118 (2004) 661–674
damage in our sample was very small, regardless of
residency. Thus target groups should not be identified
by region, but rather by how likely they might be af-
fected by bears.
Only 6% of hunters and locals hold negative attitudes
(attitude score 1–2) towards bears. However, this group
seems to express their attitude louder and more fre-
quently than the majority of people that hold a positive
attitude. Furthermore, a small group of people with a
negative attitude and having the skill and tools to re-
move a controversial species may well be able to stop
recovery, as has been the case with wolves in Michigan
(Hook and Robinson, 1982). Among hunters only peer
pressure and self-control, can counteract illegal killings.
Before our questionnaire the impression of bear man-
agers was that people in the outer area were very much
against bears and are very afraid of bears as compared
to people in the core area. Because this small group is
frequently present in the media it might change attitudes
of people that are unsure and uninformed about bears.
Counteracting this process with pro-active public in-
formation efforts would be desirable. The high interest
level in bears, expressed by respondents in our survey,
should help to reach a broad audience. However, people
that held a strongly negative attitude expressed only a
small interest in learning more about bears, which
makes it difficult to reach this group with public infor-
mation efforts. Experience from other places in Europe
show that it is difficult to reach local people holding a
negative attitude towards large carnivores with written
material, only (Egli, 1998; Bath and Majic, 2001; Bath
and Majic, 2001; Kaczensky, 2003). Here regular per-
sonal contacts are required between a person accepted
and respected by the locals and the managers alike. A
successful model are the ‘‘bear advocates’’ established in
Austria (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Braunb
ar Life, 1997;
Zedrosser et al., 1999).
4.2. How harmful is the bear – a key issue
The key factor in predicting the attitude score was the
perception of how harmful the bear is, with a special
focus on how dangerous the bear is for humans. Fear of
bears is an important factor for peopleÕs attitude in
Slovenia (Korenjak, 1995; Logar and Komac, 1999;
Prosen, 2001). The same was found for wolves (Canis
lupus) in North America and Japan, respectively (Hook
and Robinson, 1982; Bath, 1991; Kanzaki et al., 1996).
Previous studies have shown, that the actual or per-
ceived bear-people conflict is important to predict peo-
pleÕs attitude towards bears (Bath and Majic, 2001;
Caluori, 1999; Egli, 1998; Kellert, 1994; Kellert et al.,
1996; Kvaalen, 1998). Therefore it is not surprising, that
negative personal experience was an important predictor
of peopleÕs utility score. A high percentage of respon-
dents already felt threatened by bears and the need to be
taken seriously. Here public information efforts are
needed. Rather than providing general information on
bear biology, information should focus on topics like:
How dangerous are bears? What should I do if I see a
bear? How to interpret bear behaviour in case of an
encounter? How likely is it to encounter a bear? Due to
the differences in the knowledge levels of our target
groups this information needs to be tailored differently
for locals and hunters.
Twenty-six percent of hunters and 6% of locals ex-
perienced bear damage within the family or hunting
club. Most of these damages included livestock loss,
damaged beehives and damages to orchards or fields.
People that experienced damage also hold the most
negative attitudes towards bears and their management.
Hence information about defence measures and support
for their implementation are needed. This could be done
by a mediator like a ‘‘bear advocat’’. In addition the
compensation system needs to be better advertised, but
should be linked to the use of protection measures when
possible – as otherwise a reduction in damage will be
difficult to achieve (Linnell et al., 1996; Savelli et al.,
4.3. Socio-demographic variables and knowledge level –
unimportant altogether?
Socio-demographic variables, place of residence (core
area versus outer area and urban versus rural) and
knowledge score only played a minor role predicting the
attitude score towards bears in Slovenia, which was in
contrast to other studies (Kellert, 1985; Bath, 1991;
Bjerke and Reitan, 1994; Kellert et al., 1996; Szinovatz,
1997). From the low importance of the knowledge score
one should not conclude that knowledge about bears is
unimportant altogether. On the one hand it is very dif-
ficult to quantify knowledge per se and it might well be
specific facts (e.g. information on how dangerous a bear
is) and contexts (the complexity of the damage situation)
that can make a difference. On the other hand, increased
knowledge may not necessarily cause a change in atti-
tude but it may well be a basis to reinforce and ratio-
nalize attitudes (Kellert, 1994; Kellert et al., 1996).
Information on the estimated bear population size is
readily available in the media, it is, however, difficult to
receive information on the distribution and annual
amount of bear damage. Most newspaper articles just
mention the location and number of sheep killed in a
particular event (Kaczensky et al., 2001). Because people
actually underestimate bear numbers and the extent of
the predation, one can not necessarily expect to change
support of the present policy of bear expansion by
providing people with more facts. A similar situation
exists in Norway, where the knowledge level was nega-
tively correlated with the attitude towards bears (Szi-
novatz, 1997). A study dealing with attitudes towards
P. Kaczensky et al. / Biological Conservation 118 (2004) 661–674 671
polar bears (Ursus maritimus) also showed that people
with better knowledge tended to score more negatively
than less knowledgeable ones (Bath, 1994). Here a better
approach is to explain the complexity of the problem.
Bear predation on sheep is increasing in Slovenia, but so
is the number of sheep kept in the bear core area. In the
bear core area the nature of the present conflict is two
opposing management schemes (Krystufek and Grif-
fiths, 2003). However, experience from other countries
have shown that a low conflict co-existence of large
carnivores and free-ranging or unprotected sheep on
forested range is not possible (Kaczensky, 1999).
4.4. Support for the present bear management
As expected, attitudes towards bears proved to be an
important variable predicting support of the present
policy of bear expansion. However, this finding can be
quite misleading as it suggests that a positive attitude
also means support of the present expansion policy,
which it does not. It only means that there is a strong
positive relationship between attitude- and number
score; but a moderate attitude score is most often as-
sociated with a very low number score, while a high
attitude score is associated with a moderate number
score. This apparent discrepancy might be explained by
the attitude score being composed of questions asking
for general value-laden beliefs, whereas the questions of
the utility score ask for specific consequences. The same
was observed in a study about acceptable options for
cougar (Felis concolor) management (Manfredo et al.,
Respondents did not want bears in all parts of
Slovenia and wanted bears to be eliminated in areas with
sheep predation. We believe that most respondents are
not aware that bear predation problems are not re-
stricted to the subalpine and alpine areas outside the
bear core area and therefore do not know that the
consequence of their request would be the elimination of
the bear on most of its range in Slovenia. Future public
information efforts need to address bear-livestock issues
and have to show and explain the complexity of the
At the same time management actions have to target
these problems and reduce conflict. It is an illusion to
believe that it will be possible to avoid conflicts alto-
gether, but setting up personal contacts and acknowl-
edging peoples concerns may help improve the situation
(Sillero-Zubiri and Laurenson, 2001). Several respon-
dents expressed their frustration that Slovenia has to
pay the burden, so the neighbouring countries can enjoy
having bears. For Slovenia the few bears in the alpine
parts of the country are of little importance for the vi-
ability of the bear population. On the contrary, they
cause a high level of bear-human conflicts and lately
threaten the overall acceptance of the species (Krystufek
et al., 2003). From the Slovenian perspective it is much
more efficient to translocate selected bears from the bear
core area to a desired recovery area in the Alps, thus
sparing Slovenia the burden of tolerating bears in high
conflict zones (Adamic, 2003; Krystufek and Griffiths,
2003). We thus predict that without international sup-
port and financial incentive it will be difficult to guar-
antee the protection of the bear in the subalpine and
alpine areas of Slovenia.
We thank Alistair Bath and Veronika Szinovatz for
their help in designing this study; Blaz Krze for support
in logistics and fund raising; Barbara Arzensek, Vesna
Grobelnik, Karel Kolaric, Primoz Leben, Sandra Les-
nik, Manca Pavsic and Irena Sereg for distributing the
questionnaires and/or data input; and John Bissonette,
Thomas R
odl and two anonymous referees for com-
ments on early drafts of this manuscript. This work
would not have been possible without all the locals and
hunters that filled in the questionnaire. Funding for this
research was provided by the Austrian Science Foun-
dation (FWF project: P 11529-BIO) and the Slovenian
Hunters Association.
Arbeitsgemeinschaft Braunb
ar Life, 1997. Managementplan f
aren in
Osterreich. WWF Austria, Vienna, 157pp. (in
Adamic, M., 1996. Decision making in the conservation management
of problem wildlife species in Slovenia, based on the knowledge
gained through current research projects. Gozd 54, 297–306 (in
Slovenian with English abstract).
Adamic, M., 1997. The expanding brown bear population of Slovenia:
a chance for bear recovery in the southeastern Alps. International
Conference on Bear Research and Management 9 (2), 25–29.
Adamic, M., 2003. The brown bear in Slovenia: a brief summary of the
20th century population dynamics and future conservation issues.
In: Krystufek, B., Flajsman, B., Griffiths, H.I. (Eds.), Living With
Bears. A Large Carnivore in a Shrinking World. Ecological Forum
of the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia, Ljubljana, Slovenia, pp.
Ajzen, I., 1993. Attitude theory and the attitude-behavior relation. In:
Krebs, D., Schmidt, P. (Eds.), New Directions in Attitude
Measurement. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, pp. 41–57.
Bath, A.J., Buchanan, T., 1989. Attitudes of interest groups in
Wyoming towards wolf restoration in Yellowstone National Park.
Wildlife Society Bulletin 17, 519–525.
Bath, A.J., 1991. Identification and documentation of public attitudes
toward wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone National Park. In:
Varley, J.D, Brewster, W. (Eds.), Wolves for Yellowstone? A
Report to the United States Congress. In: Research and Analysis,
vol. III. National Park Service, Yellowstone National Park,
Bath, A.J., 1994. Public attitudes toward polar bears: an application of
human dimensions in wildlife resource research. In: Proceedings of
672 P. Kaczensky et al. / Biological Conservation 118 (2004) 661–674
the International Union of Game Biologists XXI Congress,
Halifax, Canada, vol. 1, pp. 168–174.
Bath, A., Majic, A., 2001. Human dimensions in wolf manage-
ment in Croatia. Report, Large Carnivore Initiative for
Europe. Available from <http//
Bjerke, T., Reitan, O., 1994. In: Attitudes Towards Wolves in a Rural
Part of Hedmark, vol. 263. NINA Oppdragsmelding, Norway. 1–
Boitani, L., 1995. Ecological and cultural diversities in the evolution of
wolf–human relationships. In: Carbyn, L.N., Fritt, S.H., Seip, D.R.
(Eds.), Ecology and Conservation of Wolves in a Changing World.
Canadian Circumpolar Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton,
Alberta, Canada, pp. 3–12.
Boitani, L., 2000. An action plan for the conservation of the wolf in
Europe. In: Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife
and Natural Habitats. Council of Europe Publishing, Strasbourg,
Breitenmoser, U., 1998. Large predators in the Alps: the fall and rise of
manÕs competitors. Biological Conservation 83, 279–289.
Breitenmoser, U., Breitenmoser-W
ursten, C., Okarma, H., Kaphegyi,
T., Kaphegyi-Wallmann, U., M
uller, U.M., 2000. Action plan for
the conservation of the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) in Europe. In:
Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural
Habitats (Bern Convention). Council of Europe Publishing, Stras-
bourg, France.
Bright, A.D., Manfredo, M.J., 1995. The quality of attitudinal
information regarding natural resource issues: the role of attitude
strength, importance. Society and Natural Resources 8, 399–414.
Caluori, U., 1999. F
uchse in der Stadt – missliebige und geliebte
Nachbarn. Report of the WSL, Z
urich, Switzerland, 57pp. (in
Corsi, F., Sinibaldi, I., Boitani, L., Large carnivores conservation areas
in Europe: a summary of the final report. Final Report for the
Large Carnivore Initiative of Europe, Istituto Ecologia Applicata,
Rome, Italy.
Council of Europe, 1979. Convention on the conservation of European
wildlife and natural habitats. Bern, Switzerland.
Council of the European Union, 1992. Council Directive 92/43/EEC of
21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild
fauna and flora (Fauna-Flora-Habitat directive).
Dahle, B., 1996. Nutritional ecology of brown bears (Ursus arctos)in
Scandinavia with special references to moos (Alces alces). Diploma
Thesis at the Norges Teknisk-Naturvitenskapelige (NTNU) Uni-
versitet, Trondheim, Norway.
e, E., Genovesi, P., Pedrotti, L., 1998. Studio di fattibilit
a per la
reintroduzione dellÕorso bruno (Ursus arctos) sulle Alpi Centrali.
Istituto Nationale per la Fauna Selvatica and Parco Adamello
Brenta, Bologna, Italy (in Italian).
Egli, E., 1998. Der Luchs und die Schafhalter. Diploma Thesis at the
Geographical Institute of the Eidgen
ossisch Technische Hochschu-
le (ETH) Z
urich, Switzerland (in German).
Hook, R.A., Robinson, W.L., 1982. Attitudes of Michigan Citizens
toward predators. In: Carbyn, L.N., Fritt, S.H., Seip, D.R. (Eds.),
Ecology and Conservation of Wolves in a Changing World.
Canadian Circumpolar Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton,
Alberta, Canada, pp. 382–394.
Hunziker, M., Egli, E., Wallmer, A., 1998. Return of predators:
reasons for existence or lack of public acceptance. KORA Report
3:25-30, Bern, Switzerland.
Kaczensky, P., 1999. Large carnivore predation on livestock in
Europe. Ursus 11, 59–72.
Kaczensky, P., 2000. Co-existence of brown bears and men in
Slovenia. Dissertation at the Wildlife Research and Management
Unit, Technische Universit
at M
unchen, Munich, Germany. Avail-
able from <
Kaczensky, P., 2000b. Bear politics in Slovenia. International Bear
News 9 (2), 9.
Kaczensky, P., Blazic, M., Gossow, H., 2001. Content analysis of
articles of brown bears in the Slovenian press 1991–1998. Forest,
Snow and Landscape Research 76 (1/2), 121–135.
Kaczensky, P., 2003. Is coexistence possible? Public opinion of large
carnivores in the Alps and Dinaric Mountains. In: Krystufek, B.,
Flajsman, B., Griffiths, H.I. (Eds.), Living With Bears. A Large
Carnivore in a Shrinking World. Ecological Forum of the Liberal
Democracy of Slovenia, Ljubljana, Slovenia, pp. 59–89.
Kanzaki, N., Maruyama, N., Inoue, T., 1996. Japanese attitudes
towards wolves and its recovery. Journal of Wildlife Research 1 (3),
Kellert, S.R., 1985. Public perception of predators, particularly the
wolf and coyote. Biological Conservation 31, 67–189.
Kellert, S.R., 1994. Public attitudes toward bears and their conserva-
tion. International Conference on Bear Research and Management
9, 43–50.
Kellert, S.R., Black, M., Rush, C.R., Bath, A.J., 1996. Human culture
and large carnivore conservation in North America. Conservation
Biology 10, 977–990.
Knauer, F., 2000. Ausbreitungsmuster von Braunb
aren in die Ostal-
pen. Dissertation at the Wildlife Research and Management Unit,
Technische Universit
at M
unchen, Munich, Germany (in German).
Available from <
Korenjak, A., 1995. Man and large predators in Austria and
Slovenia. Graduation Thesis at the Biotechnical Faculty of the
University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia (in Slovenian with
English abstract).
Krystufek, B., Griffiths, H.I., 2003. Anatomy of a human: brown bear
conflict. Case study from Slovenia in 1999–2000. In: Krystufek, B.,
Flajsman, B., Griffiths, H.I. (Eds.), Living With Bears. A Large
Carnivore in a Shrinking World. Ecological Forum of the Liberal
Democracy of Slovenia, Ljubljana, Slovenia, pp. 127–153.
Krystufek, B., Flajsman, B., Griffiths, H.I., 2003. A large carnivore in
a shrinking world. Ecological Forum of the Liberal Democracy of
Slovenia, Ljubljana, Slovenia. 368pp.
Kvaalen, I., 1998. Acceptance of Lynx by Sheep Farmers – A
Sociological Comparison. Council of Europe Publishing, Stras-
bourg Cedex. pp. 59–64.
Linnell, J.D., Smith, M.E., Odden, J., Kaczensky, P., Swenson, J.E.,
1996. Carnivores and sheep farming in Norway. 4. Strategies for
the reduction of carnivore – livestock conflicts: a review. NINA
Oppdragsmelding 443, 1–118.
Litwin, M.S., 1995, How to Measure Survey Reliability and Validity,
The Survey Kit 7. Sage, Beverley Hills, CA.
Logar, J., Komac, U., 1999. Public opinion on bear in the upper Sel
valley case. Gozdarski vestnik 9, 381–393 (in Slovenian with
English abstract).
Manfredo, M.J., Zinn, H.C., Sikorowski, L., Jones, J., 1998. Public
acceptance of mountain lion management: a case study of Denver,
Colorado, and nearby foothills areas. Wildlife Society Bulletin 26,
Prosen, M., 2001. The human dimension in managing the large
carnivores in Slovenia, and developing the model of potential
habitat with the human ecological dimension. Masters Thesis at the
Biotechnical Faculty, Department of Forestry at the University of
Ljubljana, Slovenia (in Slovenian with English summary).
Savelli, B.G., Antonelli, F., Boitani. L., 1998. The impact of livestock
support on carnivore conservation. Report of the Istituto Ecologia
Applicata, Rome, Italy.
oder, W., 1998. Challanges to wildlife management and conser-
vation in Europe. Wildlife Society Bulletin 26, 921–926.
Sillero-Zubiri, C., Laurenson, M.K., 2001. Interactions between
carnivores and local communities: conflict or co-existence? In:
Gittleman, J.L., Funk, S.M., Macdonald, D., Wayne, R.K. (Eds.),
P. Kaczensky et al. / Biological Conservation 118 (2004) 661–674 673
Carnivore Conservation. The Zoological Society of London.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 282–312.
Simonic, A., 1994. The legal protection of the brown bear in Slovene
territory-past and present, and some suggestions for the. In:
ar in den L
andern Alpen-Adria, Proceedings, Ljubljana,
Slovenia, pp. 43–75.
Swenson, J.E., Sandegren, F., S
oderberg, A., Heim, M., Sorensen,
O.J., Bj
arvall, A., Franzen, R., Wikan, S., Wabakken, P., 1999.
Interactions between brown bears and humans in Scandinavia.
Biosphere Conservation 2 (1), 1–9.
Swenson, J.E., Gerstl, N., Dahle, B., Zedrosser, A., 2000. Action plan for
the conservation of the brown bear in Europe. In: Convention on the
Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern
Convention). Council of Europe Publishing, Strasbourg, France.
Szinovatz, V., 1997. Attitudes of the Norwegian public toward bear and
lynx. Diploma Thesis at the Institute of Wildlife Biology and Game
Management, University of Agricultural Sciences in Vienna, Austria.
Szinovatz, V., Gossow, H., 2001. Die Akzeptanz der B
aren in
Osterreich in Abh
angigkeit von der Saison – eine Langzeitstudie.
Forest, Snow and Landscape Research 76 (1/2), 155–168 (in
ar, A., 2000. Die umstrittene R
uckkehr des Wolfes in die
osischen Meeralpen – M
oglichkeiten zur Akzeptanzsicherung
aus der Sicht der Sch
afer im Nationalpark Mercantour. Diplomat
Thesis at the Fachgebiet f
ur Wildbiologie und Wildtiermanage-
ment, Department f
Okosystem- und Landschaftsmanagement
der Technischen Universit
at M
unchen, Munich, Germany (in
Zedrosser, A., Gerstl, N., Rauer., R., 1999. Brown bears in Austria.
Federal Environment Agency, Monograph Series No. 117, Vienna,
Zeller, R., Carmines, E., 1980. Measurement in Social Sciences: The
Link Between Theory and Data. Cambridge University Press,
Chelsea, Michigan, United Kingdom.
Zimmermann, B., Wabakken, P., D
otterer, M., 2001. Human-carni-
vore interactions in Norway: How does the re-appearance of large
carnivores affect peopleÕs attitude. Forest Snow and Landscape
Research 76 (1/2), 137–153.
674 P. Kaczensky et al. / Biological Conservation 118 (2004) 661–674
... Whereas there is a large body of literature dealing with attitudes towards controversial mammalian wildlife like large carnivores and their restoration (e.g. Kellert et al., 1996;Ericsson & Heberlein, 2002;Kaczensky et al., 2004;Bath et al., 2008), little can be found on reptiles such as snakes (Ehrlich, 2010). This is quite surprising because snakes tend to evoke strong reactions by those with whom they come into contact and only few other animals cause the level of fear and anxiety that snakes do, particularly in females (Brewer, 2001;Öhman & Mineka, 2003). ...
... However, knowledge about controversial or dangerous species cannot automatically be expected to influence attitude (Kaczensky et al., 2004) and even if it does, the effect can be both positive (Kellert, 1985;Morzillo et al, 2007), or negative (Kellert et al, 1996). For snakes Morgan and Gramann (1989) found that knowledge per se is not enough to improve attitude towards snakes. ...
... The design was based on past surveys assessing people's attitude towards a variety of species (e.g. Bath, 1991;Kaczensky et al., 2004). Questions were adapted to snakes and for the Hungarian study areas one of the authors (V. ...
... Σα μεγάλα θηλαστικά, ιδιαίτερα τα σαρκοφάγα, αποτελούν μια ιδιαίτερη περίπτωση σε αυτό τον τομέα. Πράγματι, τα τελευταία χρόνια γίνονται πολλές έρευνες τόσο στην Ευρώπη όσο και στην Αμερική για τις στάσεις απέναντι σε είδη, όπως η καφέ αρκούδα (Ursus arctos) ή ο λύκος (Canis lupus), καθώς σε αρκετές περιπτώσεις τα είδη αυτά είτε επιστρέφουν είτε επανεντάσσονται στο φυσικό τους περιβάλλον (Kellert et al 1996, Boitani 2000, Bath and Majic 2001, Kaczensky et al 2004. ...
... Ένας μάλιστα μαθητής δηλώνει ότι έχει άμεση αρνητική εμπειρία από τα τσακάλια: 'Έχουν φάει πολλά από τα κατσίκια του πατέρα μου'. ύμφωνα με τη βιβλιογραφία, οι προσωπικές αρνητικές εμπειρίες διαμορφώνουν στάσεις που είναι δύσκολο να μεταβληθούν στη συνέχεια (Kaczensky et al 2004). Ακολουθούν οι ζημιές στις γεωργικές καλλιέργειες με 10 αναφορές (π.χ. ...
... The influence of college education on attitudes and acceptance of sharks aligns with prior research examining the influence of education on tolerance for wildlife species (Bath & Buchanan, 1989;Røskaft et al., 2003;Kaczensky, Blazic & Gossow, 2004). Specifically, more education predicts less fear of large carnivorous species including brown bears and wolves (Røskaft et al., 2003), and more positive attitudes toward species including brown bears (Kaczensky, Blazic & Gossow, 2004) and wolves (Bath & Buchanan, 1989). ...
... The influence of college education on attitudes and acceptance of sharks aligns with prior research examining the influence of education on tolerance for wildlife species (Bath & Buchanan, 1989;Røskaft et al., 2003;Kaczensky, Blazic & Gossow, 2004). Specifically, more education predicts less fear of large carnivorous species including brown bears and wolves (Røskaft et al., 2003), and more positive attitudes toward species including brown bears (Kaczensky, Blazic & Gossow, 2004) and wolves (Bath & Buchanan, 1989). The tendency for change in acceptance of sharks and intended behaviors toward sharks to become more negative with increasing age may exist for several reasons. ...
Full-text available
Sharks are often depicted in the media as violent killers that actively seek out opportunities to harm humans. This framing may impact human tolerance and support of shark conservation, underscoring the need to identify strategies that counteract these negative representations. Social media, given its widespread use, could be an effective platform for shaping public tolerance for sharks and other wildlife species. In this experimental study, we conducted an online pre‐post survey in Spring 2020 to determine how viewing shark‐related YouTube videos impacted tolerance for sharks among residents (n = 335) in the coastal state of North Carolina (NC), USA and neighboring states. The study employed framing theory, which suggests that the ways in which information is presented influence how it is processed and the actions that result from it. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two video treatments where sharks were framed positively or negatively. Each video treatment impacted tolerance for sharks in the direction of their framing: positive framing influenced positive changes in tolerance (70% more positive attitudes toward sharks, a 130% increase in acceptance of sharks and a 46% increase in intended shark conservation behaviors), and negative framing influenced negative changes (25% more negative attitudes toward sharks, a 18% decrease in acceptance of sharks and a 3% decrease in intended shark conservation behaviors). These findings suggest positive messages about sharks on social media promote tolerance of sharks and can be more impactful than negative messages. At least one form of social media, YouTube, appears to be a valuable tool for encouraging tolerance for sharks. Differences in change in attitudes, change in acceptance, and change in intended behaviors toward sharks between the positive shark video and negative shark video treatment groups. Change in each variable was calculated by subtracting the pre‐test score from the post‐test score for each variable. Significance levels: *P < 0.05, **P < 0.01, ***P < 0.001 for Welch’s t‐test comparing magnitude of change between the negative and positive treatments, adjusted with the Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons. Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals. The dashed line represents a baseline of no change.
... Living with brown bears in highly populated regions like Europe can be challenging, but coexistence also brings opportunities such as ecotourism. So far, the coexistence model championed by wildlife managers of this continent appears to be working and public opinion surveys indicate that in several countries the majority of the rural population is in favour of living with bears in their surroundings (Kaczensky et al 2004;Majić et al 2011). Recent advances in the science of human-bear conflicts offer possibilities to further reduce the negative impacts of bears on local communities, while at the same time retaining the benefits associated with this species. ...
Full-text available
Europe is densely populated and extensive wilderness areas are almost non-existent. Nevertheless, we share the continent with roughly 17,000 brown bears (Ursus arctos) in what is considered an example of the coexistence model. In contrast to the separation model, where bears and people are kept apart, the coexistence model promotes sharing of the same landscape. However, coexistence between people and bears is challenging and often results in a variety of conflicts: from damage caused to human property to direct threats to human safety that lead to the killing of bears. Several factors affect the probability of these human-bear conflicts and a good understanding of the drivers behind the development of ‘problem bear’ behaviour is essential when designing effective management measures. The toolbox of human-bear conflict management includes practices such as livestock guarding dogs, electric fences and aversive conditioning of problem bears. Largely unique to Europe is the use of artificial diversionary feeding of brown bears, whereby food is placed in remote areas in order to keep bears away from human settlements. Despite being practised for a long time in many countries, it is only recently that the broader spectrum of positive and negative consequences of this controversial measure has been understood. Public opinion is an important issue in the use of some conflict prevention measures; in some cases, local people react against lethal methods, especially where bears occur in small numbers. Recent advances in the science of human-bear conflicts offer a promise of continuing coexistence between people and brown bears, which are making a slow but steady return to many parts of Europe where they have been exterminated in the past. This also brings potential benefits that are associated with bear presence, such as ecotourism and ecosystem services provided by the bears. DECLINE AND RECOVERY OF THE LARGEST CARNIVORE IN EUROPE After the extinction of the cave bear (Ursus spelaeus s. lat.) and retreat of the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) to the north, brown bears remained the only bear species extant in Europe since the end of the last glaciation. In historic times, brown bears roamed throughout the European continent, including Britain, but with the increase in human population and growing pressure on the environment and wildlife populations, brown bear range also gradually decreased.
... The tendency for females to report greater negative changes in perceptions of danger of sharks and intentionality of shark bites may be explained by stronger negative attitudes toward sharks making women more sensitive to the video treatments. Previous research suggests that, compared to men, women express more fear (Røskaft et al., 2003) and display more negative attitudes toward large carnivores (e.g., bears, wolves, lynx, and wolverines; Kaczensky et al., 2004;Røskaft et al., 2007). Starting with more negative predispositions toward sharks, or any attitude object, can make people more susceptible to negative messaging about them (Acuña-Marrero et al., 2018;Prokop and Randler, 2018). ...
Full-text available
Sharks, a critical component of marine ecosystems, represent one of the most threatened taxa globally. Shark conservation efforts are constrained by public fear and misperceptions. Positive social media-based outreach may provide one cost effective means to reduce fear of sharks and change misperceptions about shark bite intentionality. Using framing theory, which suggests that the ways in which information is presented influences how it is processed and the changes in perceptions that result from it, we experimentally evaluated impacts of positively and negatively framed YouTube videos on fear of sharks and perceptions of shark bite intentionality among participants from the coastal state of North Carolina (NC), USA in Spring 2020. Respondents took a pre-test, followed by a randomly assigned positive or negative video treatment consisting of ~15 min of shark week videos. Pre/post-test comparisons suggest positive YouTube content decreased fright by 24%, perceived danger by 27%, and perception of shark bite intentionality by 29%, whereas negatively framed media did the opposite. Positively framed media resulted in fewer respondents blaming shark bites on sharks, and resulted in more respondents blaming swimmers or no one. Positively framed media decreased support for lethal responses to shark bites, such as shark nets, hunting down sharks that bite people, and drum lines. The positive treatment increased support for responding with research, leaving the shark alone, and education. Negatively framed media decreased support for responding by leaving the shark alone or doing nothing and increased support for some lethal responses to shark bites (i.e., drum lines and hunting down sharks). When positive and negative treatments had different effect sizes, the positive treatments tended to be more impactful. Collectively these results suggest social media may be a valuable tool for leveraging the power of communication to promote shark conservation.
... In addition, large carnivores commonly are involved in conflicts with people due to their large area requirements, competition with hunters for game species, livestock depredation, damages to croplands, and attacks on people Can et al., 2014;Mohammadi, Kaboli, Sazatornil, & López-Bao, 2019). Conflict with humans is one of the main challenges for conservation of large carnivores (Chinchilla et al., 2022;Linnell et al., 2021;Salvatori et al., 2021), as they create fear (Mohammadi, Almasieh, Nayeri, et al., 2021), decrease tolerance (Kansky et al., 2016), pose negative attitudes (Kaczensky et al., 2004), and decrease people's willingness to support conservation (Can et al., 2014;Johansson et al., 2017). These commonly result into illegal and/or retaliatory killing of large carnivores (Kissui, 2008;Merson et al., 2019), which in some cases may even hamper the recovery of populations (Bleyhl et al., 2021;Sánchez-Mercado et al., 2008). ...
Full-text available
Large carnivores’ far ranging habits and their requirements for wide areas often led them to move into unprotected lands, making them especially vulnerable to various human threats. Therefore, it is crucial to better understand their mortality characteristics and potential threats so to help guide conservation efforts. Brown bear is a protected species in Iran, however, knowledge on its population structure and causes of mortality are sparse. The main objective of this study was to understand the causes and spatio-temporal patterns of brown bear mortality in Iran. We carried out a systematic survey of internet media sources to answer (1) the mortality of which age and sex group is reported in the media; (2) what are the most common causes of mortality; (3) what are the temporal and spatial patterns of brown bear mortality?. Overall, we found 135 mortalities of brown bears in Iran from 2004-2019. Our findings showed that 84% of mortalities were related to anthropogenic causes and being shot (59%) was the most common cause followed by vehicle collisions (18.7%). Only 2% of reported mortalities were due to natural causes, and no information on the causes of mortality was available for 14%. We further found no differences in the sex distribution of bears killed, but adults (68%) were more commonly killed than subadults (22%); and age was unknown in 9% of mortalities. Most mortalities (75%) were reported in summer and autumn. We found that the number of bear mortality increased with increasing elevation, road density, proportion of forest cover, and that it was higher in areas with a higher proportion of protected areas (PA). However, most reported mortality cases were found outside of PAs. The main takeaway messages from our study are that the conservation of large carnivores in Iran must occur in co-existence with humans in a human-dominated landscape. It is also essential to obtain reliable data on population structure as well as more data on mortality rates and causes. We propose, among other conservation actions, the establishment of a central database for the systematic collection of data on human-carnivore conflicts as well as a compensation scheme for reimbursement of damages by large carnivores.
... It should be noted, however, that measures of biophilia and those of biophobia are not always negatively related. Indeed, positive attitudes towards wildlife can exist even for feared animals such as bears (Kaczensky et al. 2004). Further studies focusing on diverse animal species are needed to fully understand how biophilia and biophobia are related. ...
Full-text available
As growing urban populations have fewer chances to experience nature, i.e., ‘the extinction of experience’, the subsequent loss of emotional affinities for biodiversity (biophilia) pose major challenges to environmental conservation. Gardening, as an everyday nature interaction and window into invertebrate ecological functioning may offer opportunities to develop biophilia. However, the associations between gardening and biophilia/biophobia towards invertebrates remains untested. We conducted an online survey (n = 443) with adults in Japan about their nature and gardening experiences, demographics, and species identification knowledge in relation to their biophilia (like) and biophobia (dislike, fear, and disgust) towards invertebrates. We also asked participants about their perceptions of invertebrates as ‘beneficials’ or ‘pests’. From responses, we ranked invertebrates according to the attitudes held towards them. We found that frequent gardeners were more likely to express biophilia and perceive invertebrates as beneficial, and generally less likely to express biophobia towards invertebrates. Frequency of visits to recreational parks, but not national/state parks was associated with increased biophilia and reduced dislike and fear of invertebrates. Our results suggest that gardening, in addition to localised nature experiences, acts as a possible pathway towards appreciation of invertebrate biodiversity. We recommend that policymakers and conservation organisations view urban gardening as a potential tool to minimise the negative impacts of the extinction of experience. Implications for insect conservation As people are more likely to conserve what they love, finding ways to nurture positive attitudes towards insects is critical for the public support needed for successful insect conservation. Considering gardening is a relatively accessible form of nature connection even in cities, our findings of the association between gardening and biophilia towards invertebrates holds promise for potential pathways towards fostering support for insect conservation now and into the future.
... We propose that publicity campaigns and conservation education should be strengthened over time. The management of ABBs should be enhanced to reduce the risk of escalating human-bear conflicts (Kaczensky et al., 2004;Eklund et al., 2020;Oražem et al., 2021). Our result can provide a reference for future wildlife management planning and formulate an appropriate plan to monitor and deal with human-bear conflicts as soon as possible to better deal with the relationship between conservation and interests. ...
Full-text available
Large carnivores maintain the balance of ecosystems. Understanding distribution and population changes are necessary prerequisites for scientific conservation strategy. The east of Jilin Province is the habitat of endangered Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica). The Chinese government has focused the monitoring on protecting the Amur tiger. However, little is known about Asiatic black bear (ABB, Ursus thibetanus) distribution, population dynamics in the wild, and protection awareness of local residents in Jilin Province, China. We conducted a integrative survey in mountain areas of eastern Jilin to determine ABB distribution. We explored the drivers of the distribution of ABB in Jilin using logstic regression, we further predicted the habitat suitability and potential suitable habitat of the ABB. Totally, we surveyed 112 grids (15 km × 15 km) from November 2015 to January 2019. Logistic regression analysis revealed that the main factors driving ABB distribution in Jilin are forest coverage, distance from protected areas, distance from main roads (railways and highways), and distance from water bodies. The results of questionnaire survey showed that the local residents’ understanding of ABB distribution is congruent with our field research. They believed that the number of ABBs has gradually increased in the past ten years. Nevertheless, the local residents have a negative attitude toward the ABBs, which may adversely affect efforts to protect them, possibly leading to more conflicts between humans and bears. Therefore, there is a need to consider ways to change the attitude of the locals through the strengthening of the protection propaganda and advocating management as being critical for the protection of ABBs. Our research provides a scientific basis for future conservation planning. We recommend taking local people’s attitude into consideration during conservation management strategy making to reduce human-bear conflicts and promote the coexistence of humans and bears.
Full-text available
Although it has been shown that Virtual Reality (VR) can positively impact political, civic and environmental views, the question of whether and how VR influences social attitudes more effectively than less immersive conditions has been a subject of debate. To address this question, this article provides a systematic review with meta-analysis of social attitude research in VR by examining 50 separate findings from 39 studies. We find that VR influences social attitudes significantly more than non-immersive interventions, while embodiment has no moderation effect. Further, outgroup VR perspective-taking fosters positive social attitudes more effectively than ingroup VR perspective-taking. Findings are categorized according to social attitude object and discussed in the light of emerging challenges and opportunities for VR attitude research.
Full-text available
Designed to bridge the gap between theorists and methodologists by presenting an integrated approach to measurement. It differentiates between random and systematic error thus conveying both statistical techniques and their theoretical underpinnings. The book is written at a level accessible to students of social sciences with some statistical training, and does not assume a sophisticated mathematical background. Chapters include factor analysis, reliability, validity and evaluating systematic error.-K.Clayton
Full-text available
Seasonal changes in acceptance of brown bears in Austria – results from 1993 to 1997 The increasing size of the Austrian bear population (Ursus arctos L.) has led to higher levels of damage. This has been well-covered in the media, and people's attitudes to the conservation and re-establishment of brown bears in Austria has become an important issue. Thus, to identify chan-ges in attitudes over time, a longitudinal study was conducted over a five-year period (1993–1997) in one of the areas in Austria where bears are common. A total of 377 people were asked about their attitudes toward bears, how much they knew about bears and about some associated management issues. They were also asked to estimate bear numbers in Austria. Analysing the responses by season (interviewed in summer versus interviewed in winter), similar patterns were found: respondents' attitudes toward the species, their knowledge of bears and related aspects, and their estimations of the bear population differed significantly between summer and winter. These findings show how important it is to conduct longitudinal surveys in order to understand changes in human attitudes. This should help wildlife managers react more appropriately when conflict situations between humans and large carnivores arise. 1 Einleitung Der Bär wurde in Österreich, wie auch in anderen mitteleuropäischen Ländern, aufgrund der Konkurrenz zum Menschen und der Bedrohung für Haustiere «erfolgreich» verfolgt, so dass bis zum Beginn dieses Jahrhunderts nur mehr einzelne Individuen in wenigen Rück-zugsgebieten überleben konnten (RAUER und GUTLEB 1998). Durch Wiederansiedlungs-versuche des WWF in den Jahren 1989, 1992 und 1993 sowie durch die Einwanderung von Braunbären aus Slowenien erfolgte eine Rekolonialisierung des österreichischen Alpenrau-mes. 1996 belief sich der Bärenbestand auf rund 20 bis 25 Individuen; davon 8 bis 14 im niederösterreichisch-steirischen Grenzgebiet, die übrigen vorwiegend in Kärnten (RAUER und GUTLEB 1997). Gleichzeitig mit der Erholung des Bären-Bestandes erhöhten sich Scha-densfälle in Bienenzuchten, Schafbeständen und Fischteichen, wodurch lokale und nationale Medien das Thema der Wiederbesiedelung vermehrt aufgriffen (ZEILER et al. 2001, GLEIS-SENEBNER 1995, GOSSOW et al. 1997). Das Jahr 1994 mit den bisher höchsten Schäden in Höhe von 895 000 ATS (RAUER und GUTLEB 1997, KACZENSKY 1996) hinterliess eine ver-unsicherte lokale Bevölkerung (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Braunbär LIFE 1997).