Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Recreation Management

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Norma Nickerson

Commitee Members

Elizabeth Covelli, Fletcher Brown


bear education, bear safety, bear safety education, national park education, national park information


University of Montana


The purpose of this study was to identify Glacier National Park backcountry day users’ bear safety information source utilization, obtain their knowledge level of bear safety, and identify any differences in knowledge level when compared to sources used. The results of this study were intended to provide park managers with a means to more effectively implement the park’s bear safety information program. The study was conducted within Glacier National Park in Montana during the summer of 2011. A survey was given to 540 backcountry day users during their day hikes within the park. A bear safety quiz section was included within the survey to obtain user knowledge level. The results indicated that backcountry users utilized Glacier National Park information sources more than any other source. Of the entire park provided information materials, text based information was found to be most commonly used to gain bear safety knowledge. Interpersonal communication methods such as ranger talks and conversations with park employees were also often utilized. Backcountry day users were found to know an average of 70 percent of the bear safety material provided by Glacier National Park. This indicates only a moderate level of bear safety knowledge held by park users who hike in bear inhabited areas. Respondents who primarily utilized Glacier National Park bear safety information were not more likely to have better knowledge than any other respondents. In fact, the highest knowledge level was of backcountry day users who primarily utilized bear safety information from other parks. When compared to those who mainly used other parks’ information, respondents who obtained their knowledge primarily from family and friends had a significantly lower bear safety knowledge level.



© Copyright 2011 Phillip Wayne Zumstein