Survey results show Montanans love grizzlies, they also want to hunt them

Editor’s note:

This story is part of the Lee Enterprises series “Grizzlies and Us.” The project examines the many issues surrounding the uneasy coexistence of grizzly bears and humans in the Lower 48, which have come more into focus in recent years as the federallyprotected animal pushes farther into human-occupied areas. The 10-part series, comprised of more than 20 stories, was produced by reporters and photojournalists across the Rocky Mountain West.

Montanans seem of two minds regarding grizzly bears in their midst.

A University of Montana survey completed this year found nine of 10 Montanans believe grizzly bears belong in the state, while just 3 percent thought grizzlies should not be anywhere in Montana.

Yet the same survey also found 83% of Montanans supported some level of grizzly bear hunting season.

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“We were extremely surprised at the strong, overwhelming public support for grizzly bears,” said UM researcher Alex Metcalf, who co-authored the survey paid for by Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks. “To get 90% agreement on anything is rare. But 92% of Montanans say bears have a right to exist in Montana.”

The strong support for a hunting season was equally surprising, Metcalf said.

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