Landscape connectivity is important for conserving wildlife in spaces shared with humans. Yet, differences in human attitudes and behaviors within movement corridors can lead to spatial variation in the risks humans pose to wildlife. Mapping the spatial pattern of attitudes toward wildlife provides a useful tool for measuring this variation and promoting connectivity. We surveyed ranchers (n = 505) in the High Divide region in eastern Idaho and western Montana (United States) about their attitudes toward grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) – a species that can pose risks to livestock and human safety. We assessed spatial variation in rancher acceptance of grizzly bears by combining survey and spatial predictors. Ranchers surrounded by more conservation easements and wildland-urban interface reported more positive attitudes toward grizzlies. Ranch size, experience with bears, and off-ranch income sources helped to further explain relationships between predictors and ranchers' acceptance of grizzlies. Our predictive map of acceptance provides spatially explicit information for targeted, pre-emptive conflict mitigation and a baseline for examining spatiotemporal changes in human attitudes as grizzly bear populations expand in the region. Integrating human social factors into spatial connectivity planning may better inform how organizations approach landowners and allow for a more strategic, sustainable approach to connectivity and conservation decision-making.
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Sage, Abigail H.; Hillis, Vicken; Graves, Rose A.; Burnham, Morey; and Carter, Neil H. (2022). "Paths of Coexistence: Spatially Predicting Acceptance of Grizzly Bears Along Key Movement Corridors". Biological Conservation, 266, 109468. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2022.109468