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Coloradans Place High Value on Wildlife

Division of Wildlife Funding

The legislature debated whether to raise out-of-state hunting and fishing license fees. Coloradans overwhelmingly support fee increases.


Public Favors Raising Out-of-State Hunting and Fishing Fees
The Colorado State Legislature is considering legislation to dig the Division of Wildlife out of its budget problems. Among the plans being considered is legislation to raise hunting and fishing fees, which have not been raised in a decade. In a Ciruli Associates poll, Coloradans said they would favor fee hikes.

Concerned Growth Threatens Wildlife
Wildlife and wildlife protection are highly valued and closely connected to Colorado residents' perception of quality of life.

Wildlife and Quality of Life

Three-quarters (76%) of Coloradans rated wildlife a "6" or above on a scale of one to ten in terms of importance to quality of life. Nearly half (48%) of the public gave wildlife an "8," "9" or "10" on the scale. Some of the highest ratings come from younger residents, new residents and those who live outside the Front Range.

Question: This survey includes questions about wildlife in Colorado. When you think about your quality of life in Colorado, how would you rate the importance of the state's wildlife on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 means wildlife is not at all important to your quality of life and 10 means wildlife is the most important aspect of your quality of life and a 5 would be average or in the middle?

The survey was conducted for the Colorado Division of Wildlife by Ciruli Associates from February 1 to 14, 1999, with 700 Colorado residents. The range of statistical confidence was 4.6 percentage points at the 95 percent level of accuracy.

Problems Facing Wildlife
Colorado's rapid population growth, housing and commercial development are perceived by residents as the major threats to the state's wildlife.

Ciruli Associates 1999

Question: What do you consider the most important problem affecting Colorado's wildlife?

At the decade's end, while Coloradans generally believed the state was moving in the right direction driven by a supercharged economy, the public's concerns have shifted to many quality of life issues. The negative effects of growth in particular concern people. The protection of wildlife and wildlife habitats are highly valued in the state as an important feature of residents' surroundings and threats to wildlife and wildlife habitats have become measures of the negative effect of crowding and congestion.

DOW Mission
To perpetuate the wildlife resources of the state and provide people the opportunity to enjoy them.
Mission of Division of Wildlife
Coloradans want a strong wildlife protection agency that enforces wildlife protection laws. The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW), which is responsible for the management and protection of the state's wildlife, has substantial support from Colorado residents. Two-thirds (65%) of the public rated DOW as performing an excellent or good job.

Among seven state and federal agencies that have responsibilities for land, water and the outdoors, DOW came in second after Colorado State Parks, which received a 71 percent excellent and good rating. The Division's positive rating was consistent among geographic areas and among hunter (65%) and angler (68%) households. The rating for Colorado's leading outdoor organization has remained high during the decade (55% "excellent/good" in 1991, 63% "excellent/good" in 1995).

The public is supportive of the primary mission of the Colorado Division of Wildlife and, in particular, emphasizes endangered wildlife and habitat protection.The public's perception of the importance of DOW's responsibilities was evaluated on a scale of one to five, with five being a very important activity. The activities tested in the survey were drawn from the most recent annual report. Forty-seven percent of the public rated managing and protecting elk and deer herds as a "5," the top score (71% when combining "4" and "5" on the scale). Nearly two-thirds of the public gave protecting threatened and endangered wildlife the highest score of five (63%). Closely following was protecting wildlife habitat, which 61 percent of the public rated as very important.

Manage and Protect Dear and Elk Herds, Protect Threatened and Endangered Wildlife, Protect and Preserve Wildlife Habitat

Question: See CDOW report.

Wildlife Program Priorities
When asked to make choices to allocate resources among the nine program areas, youth programs, both in school and outdoors, received a combined 26 percent, the highest selection. Wildlife habitat protection received 22 percent, the second highest choice. Protecting endangered wildlife (15%) held the third position, just ahead of enforcement of wildlife laws with 11 percent (tied with a combined providing hunting and fishing information and opportunities).

Question: See CDOW report.

Funding Wildlife Protection
More than two-fifths (44%) of Colorado residents believe the Division of Wildlife should have an increased budget. No prior information about the budget was provided to respondents. Support for investing more in wildlife is primarily based on the public's value of wildlife, its perception that wildlife is in danger from rapid development, and its knowledge of the Division of Wildlife's responsibilities. Thirty-eight percent of residents believe the budget should stay the same and three percent prefer a decrease in funding.

Question: Considering funding for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, given what you have seen or heard about the issue, if anything, do you believe Division of Wildlife funding should be decreased from its current level, increased from its current level or stay the same?

The public's top priorities for providing additional funding for wildlife are to use lottery funding (90%) and raise the license fees of out-of-state hunters and anglers (84%). When asked a specific question pointing out that out-of-state hunting and fishing license fees had not been raised for eight years and were lower than surrounding states, Coloradans overwhelmingly supported allowing the state legislature to raise out-of-state license fees (88%). Raising out-of-state fees has support throughout the state and among both political parties.

License Fee Question

As I mentioned, the Division of Wildlife is primarily funded by fees from hunting and fishing licenses. License fees for out-of-state hunters and anglers have not been raised for eight years due to restrictions by the Tabor tax limitation law and the Colorado State Legislature. The license fees are now lower than surrounding states. Should the Colorado State Legislature allow the license fees for out-of-state hunters and anglers be raised or not allow the fees to be raised?

Ciruli Associates 1999

Hunting Philosophy
Another 20 percent believe hunting is a basic right. About 16 percent of the public either oppose hunting or believe it should be limited to only wildlife professionals. These attitudes have remained largely the same when compared to a question asked in the 1991 DOW survey.

Four Hunting Attitudes Statements
No Hunting - I do not believe in hunting wild animals and feel it should not be allowed.
Only Professional Hunting - I believe hunting wild animals should be done only by wildlife professionals supervised by a the state to reduce animal overpopulation.
Licensed Hunting - I believe people who buy licenses and who follow hunting regulations should be allowed to hunt wild animals as a means of helping manage animal populations.
Basic Right - I believe legal hunting of wild animals is a basic right and should be limited only when necessary for the protection of wildlife population.
Ciruli Associates, N700, 1999

Conclusions About Wildlife
The survey provides evidence of a number of important observations related to the state's wildlife.

  • With a strong economy, the public becomes more concerned about its quality of life as expressed in enjoying and protecting the state's wildlife. Colorado, with its natural scenic beauty, both attracts people who appreciate the outdoors and heightens interest in preserving the state's natural heritage.

  • The State of Colorado and DOW are seen as having multiple responsibilities toward protecting, preserving and managing the state's wildlife and wildlife habitats. People believe the state's natural heritage is threatened by rapid population growth and its associated residential and commercial development.

  • The Colorado Division of Wildlife could suffer a loss of public confidence if the tension is not resolved between a limited game license fee funding base and additional costly and highly popular responsibilities in non-game wildlife and wildlife habitat protection. The public supports providing the funding to accomplish DOW's highly supported mission. People offer the most support for voluntary revenue increases, such as lottery proceeds, and for increasing user fees for non-Colorado residents. They also support public funding when it is directly related to a specific need, such as protecting endangered wildlife, and funding, such as development fees, when it comes from sources that effect wildlife and wildlife habitats by their activity.

  • The public does not support efforts to limit DOW funding due to a legislative preference or long precedent for cash funding the agency. Nor does the public believe out-of-state hunting and fishing fees should remain low because of the impact on state budget Tabor limits. A ballot initiative addressing the issue would likely pass.

  • About a fifth of the population is opposed to hunting. The group is concentrated among younger, urban and suburban populations. The other 80 percent support hunting as either a basic right or as a regulated, licensed activity. Maintenance of this level of support will be affected by vigorous enforcement of wildlife laws and effective public information from hunter advocates and DOW.

  • Wildlife issues engender a high level of public attention and garner legislative, legal and ballot initiative involvement. The DOW will need to accomplish several goals in light of the public's high rating of wildlife and its expectation that the DOW maintain its high performance rating. They include continued monitoring of the strategic environment, implementation of an effective plan of action and deft handling of periodic wildlife controversies and crises. Survey Facts

Survey of Colorado residents for the Division of Wildlife by Ciruli Associates

Telephone interviews conducted February 1 to February 14, 1999 with 700 residents, 350 from front range counties and 350 from non-front range counties. When statewide totals are described and analyzed, the data is weighed in proportion to the population contribution statewide. The non-Front Range population is 18.6 percent of the state population and the Front Range population is 81.4 percent.

Sample was selected by Random Digit Dialing that gave all Colorado residential telephone numbers, listed and unlisted, an equal chance of being included. The most recent birthday method was used to randomly select members of the household to interview.

Statistical range of accuracy for a sample of 700 in 19 out of 20 cases is ±3.7 percentage points. Confidence interval for the combined weighed sample is ±4.6 percentage points. Sample tolerances for subgroups are larger. For example, the confidence interval for a subgroup of 350 respondents is ±5.2 percentage points.

Due to rounding, not all totals equal 100 percent. Where less than the full sample is interviewed, the number of respondents is recorded.

For a copy of the report including the full text of the questions used, contact the Colorado Division of Wildlife at 303.291.7279 or log onto Ciruli Associates' website: www.ciruli.com.

Ciruli Associates 1999


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