A new survey of Montanans revealed positive attitudes toward grizzly bears and support for the presence of grizzly bears within the state.
But acceptance of bear presence in areas closer to residential and agricultural areas is lower than in remote public land areas.
The survey was a joint effort of researchers with the University of Montana and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks biologists and was mailed to over 5,000 households randomly selected from across Montana. Nearly 1,800 adults responded.
Among findings of the survey, most Montanans – around 92 percent – agree or strongly agree that grizzly bears have a right to exist in Montana, and 86 percent find it acceptable for the bears to live in primarily forested areas that are publicly owned.
Responding to a statement that grizzly bears don’t belong where people live, 35 percent agreed or strongly agreed, and 43 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed.
When asked about their emotional response to seeing a grizzly bear from a distance while walking, more Montanans said they would be nervous, scared and upset than would be relaxed, not scared and pleased.
Sixty percent of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that people should learn to live with grizzly bears near their homes, while 20 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed. But only 19 percent agreed or strongly agreed that their personal safety was threatened by grizzly bears, while 28 percent agreed or strongly agreed that the bears pose a safety risk to people they care about.
Nearly all the respondents – 94 percent – reported they have or would be willing to carry bear spray while recreating or hunting.