Kansas Residents' Opinions on Threatened and Endangered Wildlife and Actions to Protect Wildlife by Responsive Management

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

INTRODUCTION AND METHODOLOGY
This study was conducted for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (hereinafter
referred to as the Department) to determine residents’ knowledge of and opinions on threatened
and endangered wildlife, as well as their support for or opposition to various actions to protect
threatened and endangered wildlife. The study entailed a telephone survey of Kansas residents
18 years old and older.

For the survey, telephones were selected as the preferred sampling medium because of the
almost universal ownership of telephones (both landlines and cell phones were called).
Additionally, telephone surveys, relative to mail or Internet surveys, allow for more scientific
sampling and data collection, provide higher quality data, obtain higher response rates, are more
timely, and are more cost-effective. Telephone surveys also have fewer negative effects on the
environment than do mail surveys because of reduced use of paper and reduced energy
consumption for delivering and returning the questionnaires.

The telephone survey questionnaire was developed cooperatively by Responsive Management
and the Department based on a previous survey. The previous survey was developed by Kansas
State University in Cooperation with Responsive Management in 1991. For the current survey,
Responsive Management conducted pre-tests of the updated questionnaire to ensure proper
wording, flow, and logic in the survey. The sample of Kansas residents was obtained from SSI,
a firm that specializes in providing scientific samples for public opinion surveys. The sample
was representative of all residents of the state 18 years old and older. Telephone surveying times
are Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Saturday from noon to 5:00 p.m., and
Sunday from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., local time. The survey was conducted in October 2011.

The software used for data collection was Questionnaire Programming Language. The analysis
of data was performed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences as well as proprietary
software developed by Responsive Management. Throughout this report, findings of the
telephone survey are reported at a 95% confidence interval (or higher). For the entire sample of
Kansas residents 18 years old and older, the sampling error is at most plus or minus 4.34
percentage points.

KNOWLEDGE OF THREATENED AND ENDANGERED WILDLIFE AND RELATED ISSUES

  • Approximately a third of Kansas residents (32%) say that they know at least a moderate amount about threatened and endangered wildlife in Kansas. However, a majority (67%) say that they know a little or nothing at all.
  • A slight majority of Kansas residents (55%) indicated that they were aware that there are, in addition to federal laws, state laws to protect types of wildlife that are threatened and endangered. A larger majority (68%) were aware that there are state laws protecting the habitats of threatened and endangered wildlife.
  • Just over a third of Kansas residents (37%) have heard of the Department’s Nongame Wildlife Improvement Program, also known as the Chickadee Check-Off Program, and half (50%) are aware of the line on the state income tax form that allows taxpayers to contribute to the Department’s Nongame Wildlife Improvement Program.

PERCEIVED THREATS TO WILDLIFE

  • The survey asked about eight potential threats to wildlife populations in Kansas. For each, respondents were asked if they agreed or disagreed that it threatened or endangered some Kansas wildlife populations.
    1. Some items on the list were included as benchmarks (i.e., it was assumed that quite high percentages would agree that they are threats) against which to compare the other items: chemical and industrial pollution (83% strongly or moderately agree that this threatens some wildlife populations) and agricultural chemicals (76% strongly or moderately agree) were expected to have large majorities saying that they threaten wildlife populations.
    2. Regarding economic activities, oil field development (60% strongly or moderately agree that this threatens some wildlife populations) and converting land into agricultural crop production (53% strongly or moderately agree) are well above wind energy development (26% strongly or moderately agree).
  • The recreational activities of fishing and hunting are at the bottom (18% and 22%, respectively) while trapping is at 32%. Nonetheless, this means that about 1 in 5 Kansas residents erroneously think that legal fishing and legal hunting threaten and endanger some wildlife populations.

SUPPORT OF OR OPPOSITION TO VARIOUS DEPARTMENT ACTIONS TO ADDRESS THREATENED AND ENDANGERED WILDLIFE

  • Two statements measured the values people place on wildlife and plant life in Kansas. In the first, a large majority (73%) agree with the statement, “Wildlife that is threatened and endangered in Kansas yet abundant in other states should still be protected in Kansas.” In the second statement, a similar percentage (72%) agree with the statement, “Although only
  • threatened and endangered wildlife are currently protected in Kansas, threatened and endangered plant life should also be protected.”
  • Respondents were asked about their support for or opposition to five actions that would potentially help protect threatened and endangered wildlife in Kansas. The most support is for having an official state list of threatened and endangered wildlife in Kansas (74% strongly support this, 90% strongly or moderately support) and for the state imposing stiff fines on those who harm endangered wildlife or their habitats (72% strongly support, 88% strongly or moderately support).
    • The three remaining actions all have a majority in support but with markedly less support relative to the top tier:
      • The state restricting development of areas that are habitat for some threatened and endangered wildlife (47% strongly support, 76% strongly or moderately support).
      • The state buying more lands that are habitat for some threatened and endangered wildlife (48% strongly support, 68% strongly or moderately support).
      • The state restricting lake construction in areas that are habitat for some threatened and endangered wildlife (33% strongly support, 61% strongly or moderately support)
  • An overwhelming majority of Kansas residents (91%) agree that the Department should continue to identify and protect habitat critical to the existence of threatened and endangered wildlife.
  • Respondents were asked to decide between hypothetical construction projects and protection of wildlife in five instances: constructing a dam to increase drinking supplies, straightening a stream for a highway, diverting stream water for irrigation, damming water for a recreation lake, and building wind turbines. For each, respondents were asked if they would support or oppose, if they knew that the project would threaten or endanger a type of wildlife in Kansas.
    • The most support is for building wind energy turbines (62% would strongly or moderately support even if they knew it would endanger a type of wildlife) and for constructing a dam to increase drinking water supplies (56%). Just less than half would strongly or moderately support diverting water to irrigate agricultural crops (46%).
    • At the bottom in support are straightening and ditching a stream for highway construction (only 27% would support) and damming water to make a lake for recreation (23%).
  • Respondents were asked about willingness to pay more on their water bill to protect threatened and endangered wildlife in Kansas: while a majority (59%) are willing to pay at least $1 more, a third (33%) are not willing to pay even $1 more. At the top end, 27% are willing to pay at least $2 more, including 11% who would pay $5 more.
  • Another measure of support for the Department’s efforts is the rating given to the Department’s programs to manage and protect threatened and endangered wildlife in Kansas. A slight majority of Kansas residents (52%) rate the Department’s programs as excellent or good, which is more than double the percentage who rate it only fair or poor (20%).

LAND OWNERSHIP, USES OF LAND, AND OPINIONS ON WILDLIFE ON THAT LAND

  • Landowners in the survey (41% of Kansas residents said that they own land in Kansas) were asked several questions, starting with information about the size and use of the tract:
    • The median size tract is 6 acres.
    • Those who own a tract of more than 1 acre were asked to indicate the primary use of the tract. Farming, for a residence, and ranching are the most common uses of the tracts.
  • The survey measured landowners’ feelings about the intrinsic value of wildlife on their properties. Most commonly, landowners say that they have no particular feeling about threatened and endangered wildlife on their land (40% have no particular feeling). Otherwise, the next most common response is that they like having threatened and endangered wildlife on their property (30% selected this choice). However, 20% express concern about the potential problems that wildlife may cause. The remainder do not know.
  • The survey asked about the likelihood that landowners would allow the Department to monitor or research threatened and endangered wildlife on their land: 39% would be very likely, and 69% would be very or somewhat likely. Just over a quarter (26%) say that they would be not at all likely.
  • Another question found that 67% said that they would be willing to follow a conservation plan to maintain habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife on their land, if they received monetary compensation.
  • A majority of landowners would strongly or moderately support the reintroduction of a threatened and endangered wildlife species to its historical range if that range was near or adjacent to the landowner’s property: 66% would support. However, 15% would oppose.