Date of Award

Winter 2012

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources: Wildlife

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Peter Pekins


This study evaluated the effectiveness of wildlife ordinances to address human-bear conflicts in New Hampshire by assessing their ability to reduce reported conflicts, achieve public support, and reduce the availability of anthropogenic attractants, ultimately reducing conflicts. Six towns in northern New Hampshire were used to make these evaluations; 3 with ordinances (Lincoln, Franconia, and Gorham) and 3 without (Bartlett, Lancaster, and Whitefield). The number of reported human-bear conflicts were compared between pre- and post-ordinance years in ordinance towns, a mail/online survey was sent to landowners in the 6 towns to assess and compare attitudes towards bears and ordinances, and the availability of domestic and commercial garbage was compared between ordinance and non-ordinance towns. A significant (p <0.000) decline (∼56%) in conflicts was measured in Lincoln over 8 post-ordinance years; however, results in Gorham and Franconia were conflicting with a significant (p <0.000) conflict increase (∼171%) over 2 post-ordinance years in Gorham and no significant (p = 0.146) effect over 4 post-ordinance years in Franconia. These conflicting results are likely due to a lag time in ordinance effectiveness and the influence of reporting rate and natural food availability. Attitudes towards bears were positive and ordinance support (81%) was high across all towns and results indicated a willingness to adjust behavior in order to reduce conflicts. Ordinances reduced the availability of domestic (p <0.000) and commercial (p <0.000) garbage; however, commercial garbage compliance was still low in ordinance towns (29%) which may be due to low awareness and limited enforcement efforts.