Sunday, February 21, 2010

Poll finds Anchorage likes wildlife in city

Anchorage: You like having moose and bears as neighbors -- you just don't want any more of them.

Park users in particular say wildlife makes the city "more interesting and special" and see the animals as a point of pride. Bears are less welcome than moose, but 60 percent of Anchorage opposes the idea of mapping out special bear-free zones were bears would be killed on arrival.

All that according to a new survey of Anchorage residents released this month by the state Department of Fish and Game. The aim is to gauge how the city feels about the potentially dangerous wildlife at its doorstep.

At 267 pages, it's a beast of a survey. A Virginia-based research firm hired by the state asked 1,258 people roughly 70 questions each about their encounters with -- and feelings about -- moose, brown bears and black bears.

The $40,000 effort was prompted by maulings and bear encounters in the summer of 2008 and the resulting management debate, said Mark Burch, regional assistant management coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Conservation.


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