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ESA Poll Shows Act Well-Liked in Montana

A new poll shows 75 percent of Montana voters support the Endangered Species Act. Credit: Deborah C. Smith
A new poll shows 75 percent of Montana voters support the Endangered Species Act. Credit: Deborah C. Smith
September 30, 2015

HELENA, Mont. - Montanans like the Endangered Species Act, according to a poll of the state's voters, and the support holds strong no matter their party affiliation.

Seventy-five percent of Montanans polled say they support the act, while 19 percent oppose it. Support is strongest among self-identified liberals and moderates, but also strong among conservatives at 61 percent.

Robert Dewey, vice president for government relations at Defenders of Wildlife, said these poll results come at a time when Congress has been flooded with more than 80 bills, amendments and riders designed to weaken the act or remove protections for specific species.

"So, clearly, there's strong public sentiment," he said, "which, unfortunately, as we know, is strongly at odds with the numerous, unprecedented number of attacks we've seen on the act in the current Congress."

Some of the provisions against the act are in funding bills for the Department of the Interior and other agencies. Defenders of Wildlife and Earthjustice commissioned the poll, which also found that voters don't agree with the claim that protecting species means lost jobs and economic harm.

Dewey said there's no doubt Montanans see success stories, such as the bald eagle and grizzly bear, which helps with the understanding of how the law works to keep species from going extinct. He also noted that those polled do not think Congress should be messing with decisions on whether species should be protected or not.

"The public really wants federal biologists to make determinations based on sound science," he said, "and not a political decision by members of Congress."

Eighty-two percent said biologists should make ESA determinations. Five percent said Congress should make the decisions, while 13 percent didn't know.

More information is online at

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT