Contrasts of Waterfowl Hunter Surveys: Open Web and Random Mail Surveys Produce Similar Policy Results

We conducted random mail and open web surveys of Louisiana waterfowl hunters following the 2011-2012 season, asking identical questions about waterfowl hunting effort, success, satisfaction, proposed regulatory actions, and demographics. We received 1,096 usable responses to our mail survey, and 1,286 usable responses to an on-line survey that was open for anyone to answer. Respondents to the web survey hunted much more, harvested more ducks, and were somewhat younger; but we noted similarities across survey methods in attitudes toward proposed regulatory actions. Using five variables measuring hunter effort, success, satisfaction, and demographics, we were able to correctly classify by survey method 65% of survey respondents, exceeding the 51% standard for predictive accuracy. Five variables measuring attitudes toward proposed regulatory actions were able to correctly classify only 38% of mail survey respondents by survey method, failing to meet the proportional standard for predictive accuracy and confirming no difference in attitudinal responses by survey method. Open web surveys are likely to produce biased results to questions measuring hunter effort and harvest; however, they can produce similar results to random mail surveys on questions addressing proposed regulatory policies. This study adds to a growing body of published literature demonstrating attitudinal variables to be less sensitive to bias. When covering a broad range of issues and widely publicized without pre-survey identification of controversial issues, open web surveys may be an efficient way to obtain stakeholder input on attitudes toward proposed natural resource policy.

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