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WDFW, WSU working together on hunter harvest surveys

WSU will call some hunters to improve effort, harvest data

Roughly half of hunters don’t complete all their mandatory big game and turkey reporting requirements by the deadline. Due to this low reporting rate, every year, WDFW conducts follow-up telephone surveys with a random sample of 5,000 hunters who failed to submit a report.

These follow-up surveys are critical to generating robust hunter effort and harvest estimates. Since 2014, a separate survey has been conducted for mandatory reporting of migratory waterfowl, and starting in 2022, the survey was expanded to another sample of 5,000 hunters that includes non-mandatory small game and other unclassified species. 

To ensure a representative sample in these follow-up surveys, we group customers based on individual attributes that might affect hunting activity and opportunity (for example, age, having a special permit, being a master hunter, etc.), and provide the Washington State University Social and Economic Sciences Research Center (SESRC) with a stratified list to contact, with a goal of completing a total of 5,000 hunter reports across these different groups.

WSU interviewers call these customers, identify themselves as a WSU employee calling on behalf of WDFW, and request that the customer spends 3-5 minutes providing details on their unreported hunting activities. They also confirm with the respondent that participation in the survey does not waive the $10 administrative penalty for missing the mandatory big game and waterfowl reporting deadlines.

If the respondent agrees to participate, the interviewer pulls up their account in the WILD licensing system and goes through each missing harvest report, entering the harvest report data for the customer.

Once the survey sample sizes have been met in all groups, Wildlife Program staff use the results to analyze activity and success rates of non-compliant hunters relative to compliant and arrive at final harvest estimates that account for all license/tag holders, not just the ones who reported.

For big game, the survey runs from February to mid-March and from April to mid-May for migratory waterfowl and small game.

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