Estonian Public Attitudes Towards Large Carnivores
A poll of 1,700 residents of Poland, Norway and Estonia was conducted to assess public attitudes toward large carnivores.
“When planning the management of large predators, wildlife managers have to take into account the attitude of the population. A relevant poll using a unified methodology was arranged in three Baltic countries, Poland and Norway. In Estonia, completed questionnaires were received from 1,700 people.
Along with personal data (incl. demographic characteristics: sex, age, level of education, etc.), a questionnaire posed 22 different questions designed to reveal the respondents: attitude towards population size and dispersal patterns of large predators; acceptable distance to large carnivores; personal experience with large carnivores; confidence in various institutions in matters concerning large predators; general (and environmental) values and attitudes in life as a background. Survey results confirm that hatred for and fear of large predators are generally not characteristic of Estonians. Extreme views are almost completely lacking and a rational attitude seems to prevail. To the majority of the respondents the present number of large predators appears to be ideal.”
- 28% of Estonians have seen a wolf, 21.8% a bear, and 21.0% a lynx.
- 49.6% of respondents disagreed with the statement, “To see the wolf in nature would be very exciting to me.”
- Estonians would avoid encounters with bears (46.1%) and lynx (42.9%).
- 32.0% of respondents would not tolerate wolves, lynx (28.7%) or bears (28.1%) in their counties.
- Attitudes toward wolves appear to be more negative than attitudes toward the other large carnivores discussed. Small proportions of respondents would like to see wolves (1.9%), bears (0.6%), and lynx (1.4%) exterminated completely.
- With respect to discussion of large carnivores, the most trusted opinion leaders (% indicates some level of trust) are scientists (91.7%), experienced hunters (88.9%), and employees of the state forest service (78.1%). Local politicians (25.7%) and members of parliament (15.6%) elicited the least amount of trust.