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Abstract

A survey of 476 ranchers and 45 local decision makers (LDM) (521 total) was conducted to evaluate managerial, institutional, and social factors that may affect the rate and extent of implementation of various leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula L.) controls. The respondents represented a four-county region in Montana and North Dakota and are compared and contrasted to a group of ranchers and LDM from surrounding counties surveyed in 1998. The questionnaire focused on weed management in general and specifically on the perceptions and attitudes of ranchers and LDM who have been directly and indirectly affected by leafy spurge. Overall, the updated survey results reveal that ranchers and LDM had fewer problems with all noxious weeds, including leafy spurge than those ranchers and LDM surveyed in 1998. These respondents were less likely to use, or had used, the various methods of control than the original survey group. However, the vast majority of respondents were concerned about controlling weeds on rangeland and viewed leafy spurge as a long-term management problem. The LDM were more likely to believe that the weed problem in their area was a major problem and that leafy spurge was the most important weed. More than one-half of all LDM were familiar with the origins of leafy spurge, how it negatively impacts rangeland, and how the most effective biological control agents acted to control leafy spurge. None of the LDM from the 1999 survey thought that biological control was effective in controlling leafy spurge and nearly 80 percent thought that grazing with sheep or goats would pay as a type of leafy spurge control. A comparison of results with the earlier survey of ranchers indicates that financial constraints on weed control are prevalent. Also, the knowledge needed to adopt various treatment programs appears to be lacking. Education and awareness of biological control options would facilitate more adoption of biological agents to control leafy spurge. Likewise, assistance in obtaining equipment and knowledge of sheep/goat management would help in allowing many managers to use sheep and/or goats to curb further leafy spurge expansion.

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