Your Opinion Counts

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Published on: Jan. 2, 2007

Last revision: Nov. 30, 2010

surveys that are representative of all of Missouri’s 5.8 million people can be accurately conducted with a sample size of 1,000. The results are almost exactly the same as if everyone had been asked and responded.

Mail Surveys

The Department of Conservation often relies on mail surveys to gather information about people and their preferences, attitudes, opinions and desires. Mail surveys are one of the most cost-effective ways to determine public attitudes and compare them in statistically valid ways.

The kinds of questions we ask in mail surveys depend on the specific information resource managers are seeking. They might want to know, for example, how to improve landowner assistance programs; how many bird watchers are using an area; if a conservation area requires additional facilities; how Kansas City residents feel about deer in their backyards; how many quail hunters we have in Missouri; or what Missourians think about the Conservation Department.

For example, the Department recently conducted a survey to learn more about catfish anglers and their angling experiences. We learned that about six out of 10 Missouri anglers fish for catfish and about 75 percent of those prefer fishing for channel catfish and most are harvest oriented. These results reinforce the commitment the Department has made to stock and manage for channel catfish as a primary sport fish in most of Missouri's small public lakes since the 1960s.

We also asked anglers their opinions about potential regulations to improve catfish angling in Missouri. Without honest feedback from those who received our survey, there is no other way we could get this type of information. We discovered that 46 percent of our catfish anglers would support restrictive length limits if it increased their chance of catching a big fish. Consequently, there is a component in our statewide catfish management plan to investigate those types of possibilities, and we have begun to evaluate the potential of some streams and large reservoirs to produce big catfish.

We regularly use mail surveys after hunting seasons to figure out where people hunted, how often, what types of game they hunted, and how many they harvested. Surveys are the only way we can estimate the harvest of game species, such as squirrels, rabbits and doves, that are not required to be physically checked or checked by telephone. Hunter distribution and time spent afield are also important pieces of information required to effectively manage game populations, seasons and habitat.

Deer biologist Lonnie Hansen

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