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Polling Shows Montana Young People Uninformed About Invasive Species Issues

Photo courtesy of NBC Montana
Photo courtesy of NBC Montana

Montana is fighting to prevent invasive mussles from spreading into local waterways, but a new study from the Institute of Tourism and Recreation Research shows many Montanan young people don’t know much about it. ITRR Program Director Megan Schultz says recent polling revealed some alarming ignorance.

“What we found that was most alarming was that younger people were not aware about the [Invasive species, or parasite] closures from last year, and so it appears that the information about the closures was not getting out to all Montana residents,” Schultz said. “47 percent of people between 18 to 25 had not heard of either of the closures and 30 percent of  26 to 35-year-olds had not heard of either event either.”

Of course, this is a major concern for the state because people of all ages use Montana’s waterways and can help spread invasive species. Schultz says other types of watercraft, like the inner tubes used by river floaters need to be inspected too.

“They need to be stopping at these check stations too,” Schultz said. “I often think of the younger age groups as the ones who are tubing more than the older age groups so that is a huge issue, if people aren’t aware that tubes need to be stopping to be checked at these water inspection stations either, and if the only way they are talking about these check stations, unless you’re driving by one, is in the news or the paper.”

Schultz says state agencies will likely need to change the way they notify the public about the issue of invasive species, by targeting different media sources than just television and newspapers to get the word out to young people.

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