Attitudes and Risk Perception Toward the Mountain Lion Bordering the Santa Cruz Mountains, California

in Society & Animals
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Abstract

Growth in the human population and the popularity of outdoor recreation have resulted in increasing interaction between humans and mountain lions (Puma concolor). A questionnaire was used to gauge attitudes, risk perception, and management preferences toward the species among residents near its habitat in Santa Cruz County, California. Attitudes were positive, risk perception moderate, knowledge low, and lethal control measures unpopular. More positive attitudes were found among men, respondents with more education, respondents who recreated often in natural areas, and nature organization members. Older respondents, women, those who recreated less in mountain lion habitat, and those who lived near (but not in) perceived mountain lion habitat demonstrated increased risk perception. Results could help align management actions with public preferences, and guide conservation organizations toward capitalizing on positive attitudes. Both management bodies and conservation organizations should target outreach toward addressing poor knowledge among groups with negative attitudes and higher risk perception.

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Figures
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    Study region overview (inset) and survey site locations. The approximate view of the survey site locations is indicated by the white rectangle in the regional overview inset.
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    Demographics of survey respondents
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    Responses to questions about attitudes toward mountain lions
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    Responses to questions about risks mountain lions pose
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    Responses to questions about management preferences following a given interaction with mountain lions
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    Output of principal component analysis
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    Respondent gender and mean personal risk perception score.
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    Respondent education level and mean attitude score.
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    Mean attitude scores among groups with different frequencies of outdoor recreation in areas where there might be mountain lions.
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    Mean personal risk perception scores among groups with different frequencies of outdoor recreation in areas where there might be mountain lions.
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    Differences in risk score based on distance survey respondents lived relative to perceived mountain lion territory
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