Survey examines attitudes toward Cabinet-Yaak grizzlies
by Kootenai Valley Record
February 6, 2009
Residents of Lincoln and Sanders counties are generally supportive of current grizzly bear recovery efforts in the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem but are less supportive of the importation of additional bears and opposed to more road restrictions, according to a survey conducted by state and federal bear managers.
The survey, conducted by phone in July and August 2007, polled more than 500 area residents and included 50 questions covering both opinion and knowledge. More than 70 percent of those polled strongly or moderately agreed that grizzly bears lived in the area before humans and have a right to live there, and nearly two-thirds supported the general idea of having bears in the area.
Fifty-seven percent indicated support for ongoing bear recovery efforts, while 34 percent were opposed. Support climbed to 75 percent if those efforts were to exclude the transplant of more bears into the ecosystem.
Thirty percent said recovery efforts have had some effect on their outdoor activities or employment, but 70 percent said they had not.
Nearly one-third said they were not aware of road restrictions related to bear management. Of those who were aware, 35 percent said the restrictions are a major problem, 27 percent said a minor problem, and 37 percent said not a problem.
Forty-nine percent said they support the current level of road restrictions, and 42 percent were opposed. Only 31 percent said they would support any more road restrictions, however.
Younger residents were more supportive of bear recovery efforts than older people surveyed, and those dependent on forest-related industries were less supportive than those who were not.
The current grizzly bear population in the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem is estimated at 24 in the Yaak and 16 in the Cabinets. The recovery goal is a total 100 bears in the ecosystem. Two bears were transplanted into the Cabinets last summer, and both were dead within a few months. One was hit by a train along the Clark Fork, and the other was killed by a Noxon man who said it was raiding his garbage.
Full results of the survey can be found online at www.igbconline.org/html/selkirk.html.
Editorís Note: See the February 3, 2009 edition of the Kootenai Valley Record for the printed version of this story. The Kootenai Valley Record publishes once a week, now on Tuesday, in Libby, Montana. They are a locally owned community newspaper, located at 403 Mineral Avenue in Libby. For in-county and out-of-county subscription information, call 406-293-2424, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.