Colorado hunters are willing to support non-hunting wildlife programs with a portion of their license dollars, according to results of a recent survey conducted by Colorado State University.
The survey asked participants to indicate what percentage of their license fees should go to support hunting and to each of three additional programs: fishing, wildlife viewing and programs that protect endangered, threatened and other wildlife species that are not hunted or fished.
For each dollar of hunting license revenue, hunters would spend about 45 cents to manage hunting, 29 cents to manage fishing, 15 cents on protection of threatened, endangered and other wildlife not hunted and 11 cents to manage wildlife viewing.
The study was carried out to help the Colorado Division of Wildlife determine hunters’ support for programs that do not directly involve hunting. Hunting license dollars, which provide a large proportion of the Division of Wildlife’s budget, give partial support to the other revenue-poor division programs: fishing, and wildlife protection and viewing.
"Throughout the 20th century, dollars from hunters and anglers have provided the bulk of the resources necessary for agencies to manage wildlife in North America," said Mike Manfredo, researcher for the study and professor and interim head of Colorado State’s natural resource recreation and tourism department.
"These findings suggest that, consistent with that tradition, today’s hunters have a strong commitment to the general good of wildlife and to the broader public’s enjoyment of these resources," Manfredo said.
"Our approach to the use of funds has been to serve the broad needs of wildlife and people," said Jim Lipscomb, terrestrial wildlife manager for the Division of Wildlife. "It is reassuring to see that hunters support that approach to use of their licenses fees. Although the study was not intended to provide specific direction to budget allocations, it was interesting to note the similarity between last year’s expenditures and hunter preferences determined in this study."
While activities overlapped – some 80 percent of hunters fish, for example, and 54 percent are wildlife viewers – when it came to spending fees, hunters formed discrete groups.
"Additional analysis helped us identify four separate segments of the group of resident hunters we surveyed," said Peter Fix, a graduate research assistant who worked on the project.
"Of the two largest groups of hunters (about 38 percent each), one group would divide its money equally between the four wildlife programs and the other group would spend most of its funds on hunting and fishing.
"A third group of 17 percent would devote most of the funds to hunting, while the fourth group, comprising 8 percent of respondents, would place a strong emphasis on protecting threatened and endangered wildlife," Fix said.
"The Division of Wildlife often hears comments from special interest groups that represent one extreme or another on a particular issue such as program funding," Manfredo said. "Studies such as this are helpful because they provide information that is representative of all hunters in the state and that information can be weighed against other comments that are received."
The telephone survey, conducted in January, contacted 405 resident hunters and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 5 percent.