Montana Grizzly Bear Delisting Subject to ‘the Goldilocks Zone’
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Montanans of all ages and economic levels love Grizzly bears, that one thing is certain, says a new survey released by the University of Montana’s Franke College of Forestry and Conservation.
That being said, the majority of those surveyed were able to hold two somewhat opposing viewpoints simultaneously.
We love Grizzly Bears but they Need to be Hunted to Control the Numbers
KGVO News spoke with Alex Metcalf, UM associate professor of human dimensions, at the W.A. Franke College of Forestry & Conservation on Monday about the results of a recent study on the public’s perceptions of the iconic Grizzly bear.
“Grizzly bears are a hot topic right now as the state plans for their management and as the Feds think about delisting them (from the Federal Endangered Species List) or not,” began Professor Metcalf. “We worked with the agency to provide some information about how Montanans of all shapes and sizes and different corners of the state, think and believe about, about grizzly bears.”
Metcalf described the two supposedly opposite views by the public about Grizzly bears.
“What we found was kind of surprising,” he said. “There was some widespread agreement that grizzly bears are important and part of what makes Montana special and that they have a right to exist in the state. However, on the other hand, we also saw widespread support for a hunting season and for their active management, which might seem strange given the debate that we see in the news a lot. It's kind of pro bear or pro hunting bears as kind of pitted against each other, but what we see is that Montanans want both of those things.”
It Could Be that Montanans Appreciate the Balance between the Two Views
Metcalf drilled down further into the opinions held by a majority of Montanans in the survey.
“I was surprised because of the polarization of the public debate, and I expected to see more of that polarization in our data,” he said. “There was some of that, but the overwhelming majority of Montanans both think that bears are important and should be a part of the state, but they also want to see them managed, and that makes sense. That's kind of how we approach wildlife management in Montana, and as Montanans, we think that hunting is an important tool that we have in the toolbox, and Montanans are used to that, and they want to see that tool used with grizzly bears.”
Metcalf describes what he called ‘The Goldilocks Zone’.
Interesting use of the 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears' Story
“People who thought that there should be a lot more bears probably weren't very happy with the current management, and on the other side, people who thought that there were far too many bears already also wouldn't be happy. That being said, it was those folks in the middle that felt like the population of grizzly bears was approaching kind of that ‘Goldilocks zone’ that the numbers were ‘just right’ and those people would be the most satisfied. Surprisingly, that's not something anyone has ever measured before, and we were able to show that those folks in the middle were the most happy with management in the States.”
The study stated ‘when people have a comfort level with the way grizzly bears are being managed, the better they can tolerate bears on the landscape.’
Click here to read the study.