Resolving Human-Bear Conflict: A Global Survey of Countries, Experts, and Key Factors
Can ÖE., D'Cruze N., Garshelis DL., Beecham J., Macdonald DW.
© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Human-bear conflicts cause annoyance, financial losses, injuries, and even death to people. In poorer parts of the world, conflicts with bears can affect local economies. Retaliation against bears may threaten the future of small, isolated populations. Our survey of the world's bear experts revealed that the problem is worsening in terms of severity of conflicts and their impact on bear conservation on all four continents inhabited by bears. However, the main drivers of conflict, and its manifestations, differ among bear species. We reviewed human-bear conflict management plans from which we identified 10 categories of mitigating interventions that together comprise a ubiquitous bear conflict management toolbox. Within this toolbox, the peer-reviewed literature indicates heavy reliance on education and physical barriers for conflict mitigation. In customizing these general approaches to local circumstances, it is important to be mindful of starkly varying geopolitical and social circumstances. There is a pressing need to improve transfer of knowledge from places with active empirical research on mitigation (especially North America), and adapting methodologies to other parts of the world. We saw little evidence of evaluation and adaptive management in the conflict plans. Failure to mitigate conflicts may reduce society's tolerance of bears and diminish conservation efforts.