The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with the University of Minnesota through the Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, conducted a survey of Minnesota residents to support the 2020 update to the Minnesota Wolf Management Plan.
The study focused on three groups: Minnesota households, resident adult firearms deer hunters and livestock producers that operate in the 2019 wolf range. The main purpose of the study was to collect baseline information on these three groups’ attitudes and values for wolves and wolf management. Importantly, these data were collected using scientific survey methods, and are representative of the populations.
What was the study’s purpose?
The study’s aim was to obtain timely and accurate information on Minnesotans’ values, beliefs, and attitudes toward wolves and wolf management.
The study is based on questionnaires distributed to 9,750 individuals, including 5,250 residents, 2,000 deer hunters and 2,500 livestock producers. The results are compiled in a summary report and a more detailed 149-page full report.
What were the key survey topics?
The survey asked questions about individuals’ experiences with wolves, their interest in wolf management, their general attitudes toward wolves and reasons for valuing wolves. The survey also asked questions about their preference on wolf abundance, where wolves should exist or not exist, whether wolf hunting and trapping should be allowed and other wolf management preferences.
The study was designed to identify differences and similarities among the three groups.
In addition, residents were asked questions related to their involvement with wolves, wildlife and outdoor recreation. Deer hunters were asked questions about their hunting experiences and beliefs. Livestock producers in the wolf range were asked about their experiences and opinions about wolf depredation.
What were the key findings?
Key findings were largely consistent with previous study results, which is to say Minnesotans continue to agree on some topics regarding wolves and wolf management and agree less on other topics.
Still, there are things that Minnesotans agree on despite having a wide array of attitudes. For example, Minnesotans agree that maintaining a wolf population in Minnesota is important.
Residents, on average, felt that they would like to see wolf numbers remain the same, and for wolves to occupy about the same amount of habitat in the state.
The survey found that 80 percent or more of livestock producers and deer hunters support establishing both a wolf hunting and wolf trapping season. That level of support is considerably higher than what the general public believes. Support among residents is split along ideological lines (41 percent support hunting, and 30 percent support trapping).
Another portion of the survey included questions about citizen trust in the DNR. A survey finding was that residents have the highest trust in the DNR and livestock producers in the wolf range the least. Deer hunters were in the middle.
Survey results at a glance
Here's a sample of the results collected using scientific survey methods.
Percent of Minnesota residents who agreed or disagreed with the statement, “It is important to maintain a wolf population in Minnesota.”
- Livestock producers
Percent of livestock producers who agreed or disagreed with the statement, “It is important to maintain a wolf population in Minnesota.”
Percent of Minnesota hunters who agreed or disagreed with the statement, “It is important to maintain a wolf population in Minnesota.”