One of the things that made Wyoming Game and Fish back off from their proposed interim wolf management plan was a scientific poll by Resource Management, Inc. of the opinions of Wyoming resients on the issue. Resource Management was paid $12,000 for the poll, which I assume was via telephone using random digit dialing.
The poll was taken over a three week period in April. The sample size was 816 persons. Forty-six per cent supported allowing wolves to roam outside Yellowstone, while 43 per cent did not. This is not a statistically significant difference. It would be pretty hard to devise a wolf management alternative that would please a state so divided. It is important to note that only 11 per cent were undecided or gave no opinion. This indicates to me that opinions are probably set.
Few will be surprised to learn that younger people tended to support wolves living outside Yellowstone, while older Wyoming resident did not.
77% reported they wanted Wyoming to manage the wolves and 68% preferred Wyoming Game and Fish Department management to management by the federal agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which only 18% wanted. The latter presently manages the wolves. The major worry was attacks on livestock, mentioned by 58%. I should note that wolves in Wyoming have not attacked any livestock to date. I didn't see a story that listed all the poll questions and the opinion breakdown on them.
Ed Bangs, head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Wolf Recovery Team was quoted as saying he was disappointed that the state of Wyoming was probably not going to participate in wolf management prior to their delisting. He did suggest that Native American tribes on the Wind River Reservation may want to undertake the program as did the Nez Perce tribe in Idaho when Idaho's legislature killed involvement by Idaho Fish and Game back in early 1995.
As someone who has conducted public opinion polls, such contradictory opinions are common. If one asks whether that state or federal government should do . . . X, a majority almost always chooses the state. But the state residents here do not agree at all on how the state should manage. It has been my impression that people often fail to understand the variety of opinions and the amont of disagreement folks have with one another, even their neighbors.
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© 1997 Ralph Maughan
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