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A.2-2: Balancing waterfowl hunting opportunity and quality to recruit, retain, and reactivate

Presented by Michael L. Schummer - Email: mlschumm@esf.edu

Waterfowl hunter numbers and waterfowl populations were closely correlated until the past two decades when hunter numbers declined despite near record duck breeding population estimates in North America. This apparent decoupling of waterfowl numbers and hunter participation has raised concerns about the future of the hunting tradition and more importantly, the sustainability of the North American hunter-funded game conservation model. As a result, efforts to recruit, retain, and reactivate waterfowl hunters (R3) have been promoted by the North American Waterfowl Management Plan community and many state and federal agencies and non-profit conservation organizations continent-wide. Currently, it appears that increasing access and opportunity for hunting is a primary R3 strategy being used across North America by agencies and other non-governmental organizations and this is reflected within many state-level R3 plans and recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service actions. However, we hypothesize that R3 for waterfowl hunters is substantially driven by hunt quality and that quality and quantity of opportunity may be somewhat mutually exclusive. Therefore, providing abundant access and opportunity to hunt waterfowl alone, especially if it comes at the expense of hunting quality, will be inadequate and possibly detrimental to retaining, recruiting, and reactivating waterfowl hunters. We advocate for a better understanding of factors motivating R3 among market segments of the waterfowl hunting community, to develop R3 strategies specifically focused on identifying and providing those key factors, and to utilize adaptive feedback to evaluate the success and/or failures of R3 initiatives at achieving stated goals.
Session: Assessing & Adapting HD Initiatives (Tuesday, August 27, 10:30 to 12:00)