Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Breeding mountain lion (Puma concolor) populations currently inhabit the western portion of North Dakota. In recent years, apparent increases in human-lion interactions across North Dakota, and other Midwest states, have challenged wildlife managers who strive to balance biological and social carrying capacities of these animals. In 2019, we surveyed 2,000 residents of North Dakota, USA, using a self-administered mail survey to discern knowledge of and attitudes towards mountain lions, and to explore whether the presence of these animals would influence decisions to recreate in western North Dakota. Our questionnaire included 12 questions designed to ascertain respondent attitudes towards mountain lions. We used K-means cluster analysis to create a binary response variable, pro- and contra-lion attitude, and logistic regression analysis to identify factors that may explain or predict general attitudes towards mountain lions. Our results indicated that North Dakotans were nearly evenly split on their attitudes towards mountain lions, 52% pro-lion and 48% contra-lion. A pro-lion attitude was associated with respondents being less worried about mountain lions, having lower perception of risk, and a belief that human-lion encounters were decreasing. We found little evidence, beyond limited risk factors, that mountain lions influenced recreation in western North Dakota. Our research may be beneficial for mangers desiring targeted outreach messaging, while also contributing to the growing body of research on attitudes towards mountain lions in the Midwest.
Darnell, Theodore A., "Mountain Lions In North Dakota: A Public Opinion Survey" (2020). Theses and Dissertations. 3372.