Poll Shows Support for Wolf Reintroduction in Oympic National Park

(11/13/1998) - Seattle, WA -- At a national conference meeting this weekend in Seattle, Defenders of Wildlife released a poll showing that a majority of Washington state residents would support reintroduction of wolves in Olympic National Park.

The poll, conducted by Seattle-based Evans/McDonough Company, Inc, shows that more than six in ten respondents in the state favor wolf reintroduction. Evans and McDonough have conducted public opinion polls previously for such organizations as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Times, and KIRO-TV.

"This is good news for the wolf and for the people of Washington," said Defenders of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen. The conference of 400 people at the Doubletree Hotel in SeaTac is exploring not only the proposed Olympic wolf reintroduction but also the status of the reintroduced wolves in Montana, Idaho and Arizona and threats to Alaskan and Minnesota wolves. Wolves from sanctuaries in Colorado, Montana, and Washington have walked among conference participants, providing a popular, up-close encounter with a species that usually fears humans.

"Our national experience in Yellowstone shows us that wolf reintroduction is overwhelmingly popular with the American public," Schlickeisen, a Seattle native, said today. "According to this survey, reintroduction in Olympic park would be popular as well."

Based on a telephone survey of 800 from October 23 to 28, the poll released today included 400 registered voters in Puget Sound counties, 350 registered voters in Olympic Peninsula counties, and 50 interviews within telephone prefixes identified as predominantly Native American residents in the Olympic Peninsula.

Overall, 62 percent favor reintroduction of gray wolves in Olympic National Park, while 26 percent oppose reintroduction and 16 percent are undecided. A majority of all populations surveyed support reintroduction; however, support is less strong on the Olympic Peninsula, where 51 percent initially support reintroduction and 40 percent oppose.

Support for reintroduction increases to a three-to-one margin after discussion of concerns and benefits (67 percent favor, 23 percent oppose). After discussion of issues among Olympic Peninsula respondents, support increases to 56 percent in favor and opposition drops to 36 percent.

Three-fourths of respondents (76 percent) think it is important that wolves are in the Northwest. They agree that, "although I may never see a wolf in the wild, it is important to me personally to know they exist in the Northwest." Half the respondents say they have visited Olympic National Park in the past two years. In Yellowstone, tourism has increased from visitors hoping to glimpse a wolf.




Joan Moody, 202-682-9400 x220 (Media)
Ken Goldman, 202-682-9400 x221 (Media)