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Study finds Montanans are increasingly "tolerant" of wolves

Three-quarters of surveyed residents now self-describe as tolerant, up from half in 2017.
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Posted at 9:33 AM, Jan 30, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-30 11:33:29-05

Montanans are increasingly tolerant of wolves, according to newly released research from the University of Montana’s Human Dimensions Lab and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The study, first conducted in 2012 and repeated in 2017 and 2023, was designed to gauge Montana residents’ attitudes toward wolves and various aspects of wolf management, reports the Montana Free Press. To conduct it, researchers sent a survey to 10,000 Montana residents who were separated into four categories: the general population, landowners with more than 160 acres of land, wolf hunting license holders, and deer and elk license holders.

A few takeaways from the 2023 survey:

  • In 2023, 74% of the general population said they were “tolerant” or “very tolerant” of wolves, up from 50% in 2017 and 41% in 2012.
  • A vast majority of deer and elk hunters (82%), landowners (86%) and wolf hunters and trappers (100%) report being “tolerant” or “very tolerant” of wolf hunting. That figure for the general population is 50%, down from 71% in 2012.
  • More than two-thirds of landowners and hunters report being “very tolerant” or “tolerant” of trapping. Among the general population, that figure is 36%, a decline from 2017.

In a release about the study, FWP Chief of Conservation Policy Quentin Kujala referenced the “complicated views and values” people have toward wolves.

“It’s important for us and our partners at the University to continue research like this because how stakeholders feel about wildlife and its management is a critical awareness for FWP to have,” Kujala said.

This story is excerpted from the MT Lowdown, a weekly newsletter digest containing original reporting and analysis published every Friday.