New Poll Shows Strong Support for Bison Restoration in Montana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 8, 2015
Contact: Melanie Gade: mgade@defenders.org (202) 772-0288
 New Poll Shows Strong Support for Bison Restoration in Montana
HELENA, Mont. – A strong majority of Montana residents support efforts to restore wild bison populations in the state and oppose legislative efforts to impede wild bison restoration, according to a new poll conducted by Tulchin Research. The poll results arrive just as some politicians in the Montana Legislature roll out aggressive anti-bison bills that, if passed, would severely curtail current and future bison restoration and management efforts.
The poll, conducted in late December for Defenders of Wildlife, shows that efforts to restore wild bison populations in the state find strong, broad-based support:
  • Nearly eight in ten Montana voters support restoring wild bison populations on public lands (76% support) and on tribal lands (78% support).
  • Seventy-two (72%) percent want wild bison managed like wildlife, not livestock.
  • Seventy four (74%) percent think decisions about wild bison should be made by biologists and wildlife officials rather than county politicians.
  • Two-thirds of voters (67%) say they support efforts to relocate disease-free bison from Yellowstone National Park to start herds in other parts of the state.
The poll also shows that the majority of residents are opposed legislative proposals aimed at reducing Montana’s bison population or restricting restoration efforts:  
  • Voters overwhelmingly reject proposals to reclassify all wild bison as livestock (76% opposed, including 51% strongly opposed).
  • Voters overwhelmingly reject proposals to prohibit the establishment of any wild bison in the state (63% opposed).
  • Voters oppose allowing private landowners to shoot bison that enter onto private land (60% opposed).
  • Voters oppose establishing a year-round hunting season for bison (59% opposed).
Jonathan Proctor, Defenders’ Rockies and Plains Program Director, issued the following statement:
“Montana is bison country, and this poll reflects Montanans’ pride in the state’s wild bison legacy, past, present and future. Montanans clearly don’t want politicians destroying that legacy with legislative proposals to impede bison restoration.   Public support for bison restoration in Montana is strong, and Montana’s leaders should recognize and respect that.”
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