posted on July 26, 2004 00:00
Opinions Vary on Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting
From the Minnesota DNR
A large majority of Minnesota's waterfowl hunters are satisfied with their hunting experience, but nearly half wish they could harvest more ducks, according to a recently released survey of hunters' opinions and activities.
Seventy percent reported being satisfied (slightly, moderately or very) with waterfowl hunting, according to the survey, conducted in 2002 by the U.S. Geological Survey through the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). In the same survey in 2000, 71 percent of Minnesota waterfowl hunters reported being satisfied (slightly, moderately or very).
In 2002, nearly one half (44%) said they were dissatisfied (very, moderately or slightly) with their duck harvest compared with 50% dissatisfaction in 2000.
The results show that hunters are reasonably satisfied with hunting regulations, management strategies and the overall experience.
"As waterfowl managers, we'd like to find ways to increase overall satisfaction levels with waterfowl seasons and harvest," said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl staff specialist. "Since this was a random survey of waterfowl hunters, it provides a good representation of the opinions of hunters across the state. We'll take these results seriously."
The survey was distributed to 4,800 waterfowl hunters following the 2002 waterfowl season. A total of 3,129 responded. The average age of respondents was 45 years old and had been hunting waterfowl 22 years.
Results of the survey are used to help wildlife managers set seasons, determine regulations and management policies.
A full copy of the report will be available online at www.dnr.state.mn.us
Among other findings in the survey were:
SPINNING WING DECOYS
While use of spinning wing decoys in Minnesota appears lower than in other states, their use is increasing. In 2000, only 10% of hunters reported use of a battery-powered, spinning wing decoy compared to 26% in 2002. Of those who responded to the survey, 20% reported they own a battery-powered spinning wing decoy.
Of those who used the decoy in 2002, 9% believe the decoys are extremely effective, 29% believe they are very effective, and 42% believe they are somewhat effective. Sixteen percent of respondents believe the decoy is only slightly effective while 4% believe they are not effective at all.
When asked about various restrictions on the decoy (if these decoys are found to increase duck harvest and possibly result in shorter seasons and/or lower bag limits), respondents were generally neutral about the restrictions included in the survey. Of the listed restrictions, banning their use for the entire season received the lowest support while banning them during the first eight days of the season received the most support. (Owners of spinning wing decoys were much less supportive of restrictions than non-owners.)
Over the course of the season, users of spinning wing decoys harvested an average of 16.30 ducks compared to 7.96 for non-users.
Decoy users averaged 1.29 ducks per hunting day compared to 0.99 for non-users.
A variety of questions were asked concerning preferred season dates. Hunters were asked to select their preferred season dates for a 60-day, 45-day, and 30-day duck-hunting season.
60-day season: About half of respondents (52%) preferred an early opening date, 35% chose the traditional opening date, and 13% were undecided.
5-day season: 30% preferred a single season with a traditional opening date, 29% selected a single season with an early opening date, 17% selected a split season with an early opening date with closed dates earlier in the season, 13% selected a split season with an early opening date with closed dates later in the season, and 11% were undecided.
30-day season: 48% would prefer a single season with the traditional opening date while 37% would opt for a split season, 16% had no opinion.
WATERFOWL MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES
A large majority of respondents (81%) indicated they support creating waterfowl refuges as a management strategy. Approximately 50% of respondents indicated a preference for opening day shooting hours to begin at one-half hour before sunrise while 26% preferred a 9 a.m. start. The traditional noon start was preferred by 27%.
As for the 4 p.m. closure during the early part of the season, 36% percent were in favor while 46% opposed it.
YOUTH WATERFOWL HUNT
Support continues for this youth hunting day, although the percentage supporting it dropped from 66% in 2002 to 61% in 2002.
Thirty-six percent of respondents strongly supported the hunt in 2002, down from 44% in 2000.
Of those who responded to the survey, 11% reported they took youths hunting on the special day. Based on percentages provided by the survey, it is estimated that nearly 19,000 youths participated in the 2002 youth waterfowl hunt.
OPINIONS ABOUT THE DNR
Survey participants were asked to respond to four statements about the DNR. Overall, respondents were neutral to mildly positive about the DNR.
Over 50% of respondents agreed with the statement: "The Minnesota DNR has waterfowl management staff who are well trained for their jobs."
Nearly 50% of respondents agreed with the statement: "The Minnesota DNR answers questions honestly."
To the statement, "The Minnesota DNR listens to waterfowl hunters' concerns," 43% agreed.
About 37% agreed that the "Minnesota DNR responds to waterfowl hunters' concerns."
Seventeen percent of respondents reported they had been checked by a conservation officer during the 2002 waterfowl season and nearly 90% of those agreed or strongly agreed that the officer properly enforced regulations. Just over 80% agreed or strongly agreed that officers were polite and respectful.
* 19% of respondents reported hunting waterfowl outside of MN in 2002, down from 25% in 2000;
* Goose hunters reported less of a decline in satisfaction over time than did duck hunters. About one-third of goose hunters indicated their satisfaction had declined in the past three years, or since they began goose hunting in the state. Sixty-eight percent of goose hunters were satisfied with their goose-hunting experience in 2002.