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Old 01-12-2015, 11:58 AM   #1
Pineedles
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Default Widlife Management Opinion Results

News from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department
Phone: (603) 271-3211
Email: info@wildlife.nh.gov
For information and online licenses, visit http://www.wildnh.com

* * * * * * *

CONTACT:
Mark Ellingwood: 603-271-2461
Kent Gustafson: 603-271-2461
Jane Vachon: 603-271-3211
January 12, 2015


PUBLIC ASKED TO TAKE ON-LINE GAME MANAGEMENT QUESTIONNAIRE AS TEN-YEAR PLANNING BEGINS

Phone Survey Reveals Strong Interest in Wildlife and Support for Agency Management Efforts

CONCORD, N.H. – The overwhelming majority of people in New Hampshire consider wildlife an important aspect of their lives, and the public has considerable confidence in the job the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is doing to manage the state’s wildlife resources, according to a recent telephone survey completed as part of the Department’s preparations to update New Hampshire’s ten-year game management plan. The survey also indicated broad public support for hunting as a management tool in New Hampshire.

“The new plan will establish regional population goals for moose, deer, bear and wild turkey, for the span of 2016 through 2025,” said Fish and Game Wildlife Division Chief Mark Ellingwood. “This plan, like previous plans, will focus on the identification of regional population goals. Issues pertaining to method and manner of take will continue to be handled through biennial rule-making, as required by state statute.”

In addition to the random telephone survey, Fish and Game is offering an opportunity for interested individuals to weigh in on game management issues by taking an online version of the telephone survey posted on the Department’s website at http://www.wildnh.com/Hunting/game_plan_2015.html. The online questionnaire will be operational on January 12 and will run through January 25, 2015, a two-week opportunity to provide input.

Game species biologists will take public input from the telephone and online surveys into account as they analyze a wide range of data in preparation for making draft species population goal recommendations. Species assessment reports, survey questions and results, and initial draft recommendations for revising the state’s game management plan will be posted on Fish and Game’s website by February 10, 2015, at http://www.wildnh.com/Hunting/game_plan_2015.html.

The public will have additional opportunities to provide input at a series of five public meetings around the state in March of 2015 (see http://www.wildnh.com/Hunting/game_plan_2015.html for dates and details). Following these meetings, an open house meeting at Fish and Game will be held before final draft recommendations are presented to Fish and Game Executive Director Glenn Normandeau and the Fish and Game Commission, for their information, input and ultimately their adoption, during May and June Commission meetings. The final approved game management plan will take effect in January 2016, as rulemaking efforts take place, guided by the goals and objectives of the new plan.

The recently completed telephone survey provides a wealth of scientifically valid information on how New Hampshire residents feel about game management issues. The survey was designed to determine Granite Staters’ views and opinions on game populations and management, as well as their interest in wildlife. Survey takers were also asked to weigh in on agency performance. The study entailed a scientific telephone survey of 625 randomly selected adult New Hampshire residents, including hunters and non-hunters.

“Wildlife management plans should reflect broad public desires, because Fish and Game manages wildlife for multiple users, from hunters to wildlife watchers,” says Ellingwood.

SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS SHOWED:

Wildlife is an important aspect of life in New Hampshire. In response to questions that asked how important it is to them personally to enjoy and experience nature, the overwhelming majority place much importance on it, as 51% say it is extremely important, and another 41% say it is very important. Only 1% say it is not at all important.

Granite Staters are keenly interested in the state’s wildlife resources. New Hampshire residents most commonly say that their interest is high (57%), and another 34% rate their interest as medium. Not only are they interested, but they report knowing a fair amount about wildlife. More than 80% of residents indicate they know a moderate amount or a great deal, while 18% say they know a little or nothing about wildlife.

Residents give positive ratings to the performance of the N.H. Fish and Game Department in general. Using a 0 to10 scale, with 10 being an excellent performance, the mean rating is 7.76. Additionally, 60% give the Department a high rating of 8 or more.

Over 90% of N.H. residents place a high level of importance on having fish and wildlife resources properly managed and conserved. More than half (51%) of respondents say managing and conserving wildlife properly is extremely important, and 39% say it is very important. “Note that the Department’s ability to properly manage wildlife resources in New Hampshire depends on adequate funding,” adds Ellingwood.

Survey results showed that the responses of the general public are quite similar to those of hunters. The survey indicated that hunters feel they have a greater knowledge of wildlife and management, but they rate the Department’s performance about the same as nonhunters do. Both groups give the agency mean and median scores of approximately 8, implying high satisfaction with Fish and Game Department performance.

When asked about support for regulated hunting as a method to manage game populations, 91% of survey respondents expressed strong or moderate approval. Twenty percent of survey respondents had hunted in New Hampshire (17%) or another state (3%) in the last five years. Most hunters pursue deer (93%); and the next most popular species are ruffed grouse (41%) and wild turkey (39%).

When asked about forest management practices, 91% of survey respondents moderately or strongly support practices that create and maintain young forest to improve habitat for game species and other wildlife.

The survey also gathered information about management of specific big game species – deer, bear, moose and turkey. This information along with information form an on-line questionnaire and technical information generated by the Department’s biological staff will be used to make initial draft recommendations for population levels throughout the state. Most respondents suggested that the population levels for deer, moose, bear and turkey in the state were satisfactory and should remain the same as opposed to increased or decreased. The responses for moose population levels were less strong, with more people interested in some level of increase in their local moose population.

It is noteworthy that of those people who felt they were well enough informed to offer an opinion on the subject, substantial majorities ranked the management of deer (86%), moose (74%), bear (81%) and turkey (80%) in their county as good or excellent. Interestingly, overall public rankings and opinions regarding management performance and species population status were closely paralleled by hunter rankings and opinions.

To review draft documents and follow the planning process over the coming months, go to http://www.wildnh.com/Hunting/game_plan_2015.html . A number of important documents and reports will be available on this site by February 10.

Telephone Survey Background: The sample selection process for the random telephone survey provided statistically valid data. Here’s the “fine print” on how that worked: The sample was stratified regionally, among five New Hampshire regions, using a probability-based selection process that ensured that each eligible resident of a region (18 years old and older) had an equal chance of being selected for the survey. For statewide data, the regional samples were then weighted to be in their proper proportions to regional populations. This process ensured that the sample in each region was valid, because every resident had a known chance of participating in the survey. Survey findings are reported at a 95% confidence interval. If the survey was conducted 100 times on different samples that were selected in the same way as this survey, the findings of 95 out of the 100 surveys would fall within plus or minus 3.92 percentage points of each other.

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