Reducing human bear conflict

Our approach to reducing Human Bear Conflict is explored more fully in (WSPA, 2009), a document prepared by wildlife experts (including IUCN specialists) and social scientists to inform governments and specialised non-government organisations.

1. Managing conflict humanely: In summary

The Principles document advocates that governmental and non-governmental organisations looking to protect people and bears by addressing Human Bear Conflict (HBC) humanely and effectively should take the following steps:

  • Identify the specific nature, extent and location of the conflict situations. Scientifically informed conflict management actions can reduce the frequency and intensity of HBC.
  • Identify and understand the differing perceptions, values, needs and demands of the stakeholders. Taking a proactive approach whenever possible helps to reduce conflict situations before human tolerance for bears declines.
  • Gain public input and political will. Establishing local working groups with an effective decision making structure and access to resources, alongside participation and collaboration by essential stakeholders, can assist in building effective plans and implementing actions to reduce conflict.
  • Achieve stakeholder acceptance, cost-effectiveness and efficacy of proposed interventions. Conflict reduction methods that are familiar, inexpensive, require little new technology and minimal change to existing human behaviours are most likely to be adopted by local people.
  • Carry out monitoring and evaluation. A project’s parameters may change as bears react to the methods of reducing conflict. Long-term engagement and a willingness to adapt the project will offer a higher chance of addressing conflict situations effectively.

Steps towards humane conflict reduction

Effective, long-term approaches require methods, techniques and tools that integrate the needs and behaviours of both humans and bears, and address the root causes of conflict:

Human-focused interventions

  • Education and awareness
  • Avoiding negative encounters
  • Removal of attractants
  • Direct compensation

Bear-focused interventions

  • Physical Barriers
  • Bear deterrents
  • Aversive behavioural conditioning
  • Bear population management
  • Habitat management
  • Removal of ‘nuisance bears’ from the conflict area

2. Managing conflict humanely: practical field work

WSPA has worked in partnership with a variety of stakeholders – other civil societies, local authorities, government departments and more – on projects to reduce HBC. These address the issues in a comprehensive and coordinated manner to ensure long-term conflict reduction and management.