When Missourians Speak
The Conservation Department also recently drafted its current regional management guidelines using an extensive variety of survey data. These guidelines map out a 10-year list of conservation priorities for each region of Missouri, largely based on citizen input. "The regional management guidelines certainly are one of the most powerful uses of surveys we have," says Thorne.
Another use of surveys is to provide conflict resolution when two or more groups are competing for use of an area. "Managers often make decisions to meet the needs of conflicting uses," says Thorne. "Survey information allows a manager to be accountable to the public and still responsive to individual requests."
One example is when Kansas City residents expressed an interest in jogging on the Burr Oak Nature Center trails, but jogging was not allowed. After consulting with a local running group, the Conservation Department designed a new trail specifically for joggers, leaving the original trails for bird watchers, photographers and family strolls.
A similar issue arose when a survey by the Missouri Equine Council, with assistance from the Conservation Department, revealed a strong interest in horse trails at Missouri conservation areas. The Conservation Department reviewed, then modified their policy for trails use, including some opportunities for horse riding in most conservation areas while still minimizing impact on wildlife and plant species.
Surveys also prove helpful when conflicts arise between people and wildlife. The Conservation Department surveyed urban residents from three Missouri cities in response to fast-growing urban deer populations and increasing citizen complaints. Although 33 percent of urban residents reported being concerned about traffic accidents involving deer and 10 percent reported plant damage caused by deer, most urban residents enjoyed seeing deer in their yards and thought that the current deer populations were about right.
These results are being used to develop a deer management plan that is acceptable to urban residents and to educate urban citizens on how to minimize car-deer collisions and plant damage.
The last common use of surveys is also their most traditional use - to determine how much fish and wildlife is harvested in Missouri each year, where and when it's harvested and by whom. This harvest data is used to monitor game populations and to set harvest and creel limits.
"Deer, turkey and waterfowl hunters are interested in their sport and in being actively involved," says Wildlife Biometrics Supervisor Steve Sheriff. "They take pride in providing us with the information we need to