Presentation Type

Poster

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Jennifer Thomsen

Faculty Mentor’s Department

College of Forestry and Conservation

Abstract

Human-wildlife interactions occur in an array of settings. In Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas, a major issue is visitors approaching wildlife. This is a concern for the safety of visitors and wildlife, visitor experience, and preservation of natural and cultural values of the National Park. The goal of the study is to understand the thought process behind trying to approach wildlife. Knowing the threats and the potentials risks of approaching wildlife generally influences decision making when encountering wildlife. Emotional connections people have regarding wildlife may also have a significant impact on their decision-making process. Visitors are likely to have encounters with wildlife in the backcountry, on the road, pullouts, and designated walking trails. Continued education is essential to inform visitors about the consequences of approaching wildlife and ensuring safety. Not all visitors surveyed knew the correct distance they should be away from wildlife. Park staff continues to provide education and enforce park rules and safety measures. Information (brochures/maps/signs) regarding safe distances are provided by the park to help protect wildlife and increase visitor awareness. For this study surveys have been distributed in Gardiner, Montana to individuals who have visited Yellowstone National Park.

Category

Social Sciences

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Understanding the Perceptions of Threats and Risks People have Towards Wildlife

Human-wildlife interactions occur in an array of settings. In Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas, a major issue is visitors approaching wildlife. This is a concern for the safety of visitors and wildlife, visitor experience, and preservation of natural and cultural values of the National Park. The goal of the study is to understand the thought process behind trying to approach wildlife. Knowing the threats and the potentials risks of approaching wildlife generally influences decision making when encountering wildlife. Emotional connections people have regarding wildlife may also have a significant impact on their decision-making process. Visitors are likely to have encounters with wildlife in the backcountry, on the road, pullouts, and designated walking trails. Continued education is essential to inform visitors about the consequences of approaching wildlife and ensuring safety. Not all visitors surveyed knew the correct distance they should be away from wildlife. Park staff continues to provide education and enforce park rules and safety measures. Information (brochures/maps/signs) regarding safe distances are provided by the park to help protect wildlife and increase visitor awareness. For this study surveys have been distributed in Gardiner, Montana to individuals who have visited Yellowstone National Park.