91麻豆天美

Bridging wildlife and communities: 91麻豆天美 launches public survey on black bears this week

Contact: Sam Hughes

A black bear in a field.
A black bear in a field. (Adobe Stock)

STARKVILLE, Miss.鈥擬any Mississippi landowners and hunters are receiving black bear surveys this week in their mailboxes from 91麻豆天美 University researchers studying how the public feels about the omnivore in the Magnolia State.

Sharp Professor of Human Dimensions Kevin Hunt in the 91麻豆天美 Forest and Wildlife Research Center鈥攊n collaboration with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, or MDWFP鈥攊s conducting the surveys to better understand human/black bear interactions. MDWFP Biologist Anthony Ballard said his agency hopes to use this study to help optimize public outreach to achieve the management goals of these bears in the state.

鈥淭he purpose of this study is to learn about Mississippi resident perceptions and attitudes toward black bears, experiences with them and opinions on their management; for landowners, whether they have had any property damage caused by black bears; and for hunters, whether they would participate in black bear hunting if their future population size increased to huntable levels,鈥 Hunt said.

The study includes two separate surveys randomly mailed to 4,000 hunters and 4,000 landowners, respectively, to gather an unbiased public perspective. It will identify the public鈥檚 readiness in possibly facing an expanding black bear population. Researchers hope to estimate knowledge about the animal, with particular attention to areas most suitable for habitat restoration.

鈥淚f you receive this survey in the mail, please fill it out and return it to us. This information is critical to establishing best management practices for our state鈥檚 black bear population, whether you鈥檝e ever seen one or even knew we had them in Mississippi,鈥 Hunt said.

Once common in Mississippi, black bears nearly disappeared from the state in the early 1900s. While the exact population in Mississippi is unknown, it is thought to have increased over the last 25 years.

Hunt said that up-to-date information on the public鈥檚 experiences with these bears is instrumental for MDWFP to make effective wildlife management decisions that align with public concern and desires.

鈥淎ny wildlife policy, no matter how scientifically sound, will fail if it is not in accord with the fundamental views of the public. MDWFP manages wildlife in the public trust, and if their management is inconsistent with public opinion, there are negative consequences,鈥 Hunt said. 鈥淭hese surveys are a way to see what the public thinks before management decisions are made.鈥

The study is funded through the Mississippi Project of the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Fund administered by U.S. Fish and Wildlife (Project W-48-71).

For more on 91麻豆天美鈥檚 Forest and Wildlife Research Center, visit .

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