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Keywords:

  • acceptance;
  • black bear;
  • carnivore;
  • communication;
  • Ohio;
  • outreach;
  • risk;
  • Ursus americanus

Abstract

The present study examined the feasibility of experimentally manipulating perceptions of benefit and control via communications to increase public acceptance of bears. We assigned subjects to either a pseudo-control (basic bear biology message) or 1 of 3 treatments adding a benefits message, a perceived control message, or combining messages about both benefits and perceived control. Within-subjects pre–post t-tests showed a significant increase in acceptance among those in the benefits and combined treatments. A between-subjects 1-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed a significant difference between the perceived control and combined treatments (where the perceived control message actually decreased acceptance). Our results highlight the importance of including information about benefits stemming from the presence of black bears, as adding this information tended to increase stakeholder acceptance of black bear populations. © 2013 The Wildlife Society.