Utilization of the Public in Surveying Rare and Endangered Species Negative and Positive Aspects

The public has increasingly encouraged our state wildlife departments to become involved with management of non-game and endangered species. Some Departments have indicated that they do not have the funds for such work since they are being financed mainly by the hunter and fisherman. However, many state wildlife departments have hired one or more non-game biologists or have given these added responsibilities to their game and fish personnel. Consequently, a few individuals are often called upon to collect and disseminate relatively accurate information on a large number of speicies in a comparatively short time. This otherwise impossible task can be accomplished if the biologist will utilize the public. The positive factors for utilizing the public in simple but extensive research, especially when the species is rare and difficult to encounter, far outweigh the negative factors. Organization and planning are the keys to success. Utilization of the public in a bald eagle-osprey correspondence survey and a peregrine falcon census in Texas proved very successful. Public participation in rare wildlife surveys or in any wildlife research where there is an insufficient number of professional personnel will (1) involve the public in wildlife and its appreciation and understanding, (2) benefit the species receiving the attention, (3) help a small staff with a big responsibility as in most endangered species programs today, and (4) help the wildlife departments's image in the eyes of the public.

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