Abstract: Little is known about attitudes of landowners toward elk (Cervus elaphus) on privately-owned land. We mailed questionnaires to agricultural landowners in the Pine Ridge region of northwestern Nebraska in both 1995 and 1997 to determine attitudes toward elk populations and management of elk. Fifty-six percent (n = 214) of respondents in 1995 and 57% (n = 461) in 1997 were in favor of free-ranging elk. Motivation for those in favor of elk was utilitarian (opportunity to view and hunt elk), ecological (return of a native species), and economic (benefi ts from increased tourism and leased land for elk hunting). Reasons for opposition to elk were largely economic (damage to crops, competition with livestock, transmission of diseases to livestock) and convenience (dealing with elk hunters). Attitudes toward free-ranging elk were not affected by year or presence of elk on landowners’ property. Attitudes were affected by region and experience with damage from elk. The mean reported cost of damage was $832 and $929 in 1995 and 1997, respectively, with 75 to 80% of landowners reporting damage as minor or tolerable. Respondents who reported damage felt that the population of elk was too high, while landowners who favored elk wanted the population to increase. Most landowners (54 to 63%) were in favor of elk-hunting seasons. Fifty-fi ve percent of respondents in 1995 reported that they would allow elk hunting on their property, compared to 75% in 1997. Management recommendations that stem from this research may apply to landscapes east of the Rocky Mountains in areas that are largely privately-owned and have been recolonized by elk.
- wildlife damage,
- wildlife management
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