Survey of Attitudes Toward, Conflicts With and Management Of Wolves and Bears in Rural Villages in Armenia

Date

2013-08-16

Authors

Ozbenian, Serda

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Abstract

Many studies aimed at assessing human attitudes towards and negative interactions (conflicts) with carnivores, such as wolves (Canis lupus) and bears (Ursus arctos), have been conducted throughout the world. Although villagers in Armenia have reported conflicts with these species and the government recently introduced a wolf-culling program, no such attitude studies had been conducted in Armenia. In an effort to understand more about human attitudes and interactions with these species in Armenia, 23 rural communities were surveyed using focus groups and interviews in July 2012. The types and locations of conflicts that villagers reported experiencing with wolves and bears, the mitigation measures currently being used by villagers, and their attitudes towards wolves, bears and wildlife management policies were documented. Differences were found in the severity and types of conflicts experienced by villagers across the surveyed communities, but no social or geographic variables were identified to explain the variation. Conflicts with wolves centered on wolves attacking livestock, namely cows and sheep, and domestic animals, namely horse and dogs. Conflicts with bears mainly involved damage to orchards, crops, beehives, fences and livestock. Over half of the surveyed communities described a sense of frustration and defenselessness because of a lack of support from the government and an overall difficulty with managing conflicts. Participation in the wolf-culling program was very low and attitudes towards wildlife management policies were mostly negative. Current wildlife management policies in Armenia are not effective in helping communities deal with human-wildlife conflicts, and conflicts with wildlife seem to be further exacerbated by conflicts with management policies. Therefore, it is recommended that a participatory human-wildlife conflict management plan, with stakeholder involvement, be pursued in Armenia, as well as more outreach and education to affected communities.

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Keywords

Human-wildlife conflict, Gray wolves, Armenia, Human attitudes toward wildlife, Brown bear, Wildlife management

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