Black Bear Damage and Landowner Attitudes Toward Bears in Arkansas

Extent and types of damage caused by black bears (Ursus americanus) and landowner attitudes and perceptions of bears were determined by mail survey in Arkansas. Based on 1,353 returned surveys, monetary losses of livestock production attributed to bears appeared to be minimal, but honey production losses were more significant. Nevertheless, only 4.6% of the landowners stated that the damage was intolerable. Eighty-three percent of the respondents indicated that black bear populations should be increased or maintained at their present levels. Respondents that favored lower bear populations generally were those less knowledgeable about bears, with less education, and with lower incomes. A greater proportion of females also favored lower populations. More landowners that had experienced problems thought bears were a nuisance and that populations should be reduced or eliminated than did landowners without problem bears. Future plans for increasing bear populations as an aesthetic and harvestable resource must include an active landowner assistance program.

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