Your Opinion Counts
realizes the importance of knowing what the public wants and how to incorporate those wants into effective deer hunting regulations. He attends numerous public meetings around the state to hear concerns and get suggestions on ways to improve deer hunting while minimizing damage caused to crops, home landscaping and vehicles.
According to Hansen, deer management involves equal mixes of biology and sociology.“Deer hunting regulations must be biologically sound,” he said, “but they also have to have the support of Missourians to be effective.”
We also use surveys to learn how well the Department is meeting the needs of all Missourians. A recent survey asked Missourians about a wide variety of conservation issues. In that survey, more than two-thirds of Missourians rated the job the Department is doing as“Excellent” or “Good” for the state. Most Missourians (93 percent) said they are interested in Missouri’s fish, forests and wildlife. And the major obstacle keeping Missourians from participating in outdoor activities is “Not enough time.”
This information and much more was used last year by the Department to help prepare plans for future work. Just like a business would prepare ice cream flavors based on what customers demand, the Department of Conservation used the opinions of Missourians to develop future plans for conservation. You can read about those plans in the publication The Next Generation of Conservation, which is available on the Department’s Web site at www.missouriconservation.org/conmag/2006/09/or by contacting the Department.
Focus groups are also useful tools for gathering information and opinions. A focus group is a small group of people who are asked their opinions. Talking to people in a group setting not only allows them to share their opinions with us, but lets them explain to us the reasons why they feel the way they do. We have conducted focus groups on diverse topics, ranging from urban young people’s conservation attitudes, to minority perceptions of the outdoors, to the use of horses on conservation areas.
In the early 1990s, the Department gathered together focus groups composed of minorities adults from the St. Louis area. We learned that few urban minorities knew about the Conservation Department or received its magazine, the Missouri Conservationist.
We also learned that fear of racial intimidation or random violence in rural areas and a lack of experience in outdoor activities kept urban minorities from spending more time in outdoor recreation.
Department staff used these comments and the suggestions from the participants to expand