Dissertation Defense: Beyond the "bear" necessities: A mixed methods analysis of the conflicts arising in human-black bear encounters

Event and Presentation
Kathryn Mazaika
Kathryn Mazaika
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Kevin Avruch
Kevin Avruch
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Sandra Cheldelin
Sandra Cheldelin
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Dissertation Defense: Beyond the "bear" necessities: A mixed methods analysis of the conflicts arising in human-black bear encounters
Event Date:

March 27, 2013 1:00PM through 3:00PM

Event Location: Arlington Campus, Truland Building Room 555
Past Event
Event Type: Event

Dissertation Defense: Beyond the "bear" necessities: A mixed methods analysis of the conflicts arising in human-black bear encounters

Kathryn Mazaika
Previous Degrees: Masters of Science, Conflict Analysis & Resolution, SCAR
Masters of Environmental Law, Vermont Law School
Bachelors of Science, Chemistry, Antioch College

 

Committee Members: Kevin Avruch, Chair
Sandra Cheldelin
Linda Kalof, Michigan State University

 

Wednesday, March 27
1:00PM-3:00PM
Truland Building 555

This is event will be streamed live. Click here to watch

 

Abstract:

Human–black bear conflicts have been increasing over the last twenty-five years in the western United States.  Conflicts arising in human–bear encounters involve both those between people and bears, and between people about bears and how to address them.  Research focusing on the interactions between people and black bears is extensive, but few studies have focused on the conflict, or the progression from encounter to problem to conflict.

Using concurrent mixed methods, this study examined the conflicts arising in human–black bear encounters in the Lake Tahoe Basin of California and Nevada.  Through seventy semi-structured interviews and one hundred nineteen surveys with community members and agency employees, and legal, policy, and document reviews, this research sought to learn more about the factors that influence the views participants formed about bears, and the alternatives they considered when an encounter became a problem.  The interviews and background survey were administered concurrently, analyzed separately, and compared and integrated in a final interpretation.  Background survey and Potential for Conflict Index (PCI) results supplemented the interview findings and created context and connections with earlier studies.

Five themes organized the twelve findings that emerged from the semi-structured interviews through open coding.  Background survey analyses identified significant differences based on gender, and significant differences and highly mixed opinions on the importance of engaging an impartial facilitator.  The research also found at least three distinct communities sharing the same physical space, but functioning for the most part independently until a problem black bear encounter occurred.  Bears as provocateurs were both troublemakers and the catalysts for understanding the fractured community, how it addresses problem situations, and how their troublemaking could help to build a more connected community.

Acknowledging the partitions in the larger community can create incentives to tailor conflict resolution systems that will reach individual communities based on their foremost needs and interests, and provide opportunities to explore areas most likely fruitful for building bridges between the communities.  These findings also provide insights into ways that existing systems for addressing problem encounters can be improved for greater harmony between people and bears and people about bears.

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