Survey: Do hunters and trappers or wildlife viewers spend more money in Alaska?
FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is trying to determine how much money hunters and trappers spend in Alaska compared to wildlife viewers.
The state has hired an Oregon research company to do “a study of the economic importance of wildlife in Alaska,” according to a press release from ADF&G.
“This will help the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Alaska’s leaders better understand how hunting, trapping, wildlife viewing and other wildlife-related activities affect Alaska’s economy ... as well as the ways wildlife improves Alaskans’ quality of life,” the release stated.
The state is paying ECONorthwest, an independent research firm based in Oregon, $365,000 to conduct the survey. The company is collecting information via phone and email surveys and interviews using email addresses provided by people who bought hunting licenses in Alaska last year or completed a visitors study commissioned by the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.
Project manager Ernie Niemi with ECONorthwest said the company is contacting approximately 16,000 hunters and about 6,000 out-of-state visitors who completed a study commissioned by the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.
The company contacted more hunters because it has access to hunting license sales, Niemi said.
“We can identify that population better,” he said. “You don’t get a license to go wildlife viewing.”
There are separate surveys for hunters/trappers and wildlife viewers, Niemi said. Each survey is designed to see how much money hunters and wildlife viewers spend on their activities.
“They’re expenditures will tell us how much money is floating through the economy for these two aspects of wildlife in Alaska,” Niemi said.
Wildlife viewing ranked second to shopping in the 2011 summer visitors survey. Shopping was the top-ranked activity at 69 percent, followed by wildlife viewing at 52 percent and cultural activities at 49 percent.
But that number doesn’t tell wildlife officials much, Anne Sutton, the Department of Fish and Game’s watchable wildlife coordinator in Juneau. The survey will pinpoint the areas where wildlife viewing activities, whether it’s bear viewing or bird watching, take place and what species of animals people want to see.
“We don’t know what people do or what they’re looking for in terms of species and what they’re spending on wildlife viewing,” Sutton said. “We believe this type of information will be important in making decisions in the future about Alaska’s wildlife, whether it’s natural resource managers, the legislature or the governor.
“We want to make sure all the wildlife users have the opportunities they’re seeking here and we think this information will help us,” she said.
The company began sending out email surveys about three weeks ago and will augment the email survey with a mailed questionaire, Niemi said.
Contact Fairbanks Daily News-Miner staff writer Tim Mowry at 907-459-7587.