Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Human Movement Sciences


Park, Recreation and Tourism Studies

Committee Director

Christopher Zajchowski

Committee Member

Eddie Hill

Committee Member

Jeffrey Skibins

Committee Member

Lindsay Usher


Human-wildlife interactions in protected areas are complex, and visitor preference for close proximity to wildlife continues to challenge managers. Two indicators and thresholds questionnaires with varying photo panel orders were distributed to a total of 302 visitors at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina to examine the acceptability of various distances and management actions for black bear viewing. Results show average minimum acceptability for black bear viewing is 38 yards for a single bear and 38 - 44 yards for a black bear sow with two cubs; photo panel viewing order influenced participants’ evaluations, illustrating the potential for priming to significantly affect proximity evaluations. Results indicate the importance of further exploring the factors that impact proximity preferences, such as the number and age of bears and visitors’ distances to personal vehicles. Additionally, observational research of visitors’ behaviors within human-wildlife interactions may aid managers in understanding visitors’ norms.


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