Differences in Hunter Harvest Metrics by Survey Modes

We analyzed a three-year consolidated sample of Louisiana hunters’ responses to the Louisiana Game Harvest Surveys (LAGHS) distributed via email and mail in May following the 2016–2017, 2017–2018, and 2018–2019 hunting seasons. To determine whether the distribution modes pro- duced different results, both modes asked identical questions about hunting effort, harvest, and age. We used generalized linear mixed models to test hypotheses about hunters’ days hunted, harvest, representation of age classes, and effect of age-weighting (i.e., weighting responses based on the differ- ence in proportion between individual age classes in the response sample and the original license population) across survey modes. We compared days spent hunting and species harvested across distribution modes. We received 42,346 qualified email responses with a qualified response rate of 19.3%, and 6387 qualified mail responses with a qualified response rate of 14.1%. We calculated the cost of distribution modes and found email distribution costs (US$50,315 total; $1.19 per qualified email response) to be 87% less than mail distribution ($58,417 total; $9.15 per qualified mail response). Email respondents reported harvesting more game in 7 of 11 individual harvest metrics. Email respondents did not hunt more days than mail respon- dents according to 11 of 12 metrics. We evaluated whether age-weighting would improve model fit for days hunted and for harvest, but Bayesian analy- sis results indicated there were no meaningful differences in age-weighted and unweighted models. Email responses provided better overall coverage of age classes, as mail responses differed from the population of licensed hunters across age classes (P = 0.04) and email responses did not (P = 0.68). Based on these results, email surveys provided a more representative sample of Louisiana hunters’ effort and harvest.

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