The Human Dimensions of Fish and Wildlife Management in Maine

The Human Dimensions of Fish and Wildlife Management in Maine
The Human Dimensions of Fish and Wildlife Management in Maine
Responsive Management
Responsive Management

Maine-( For the past year, Responsive Management has been working with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (the Department) on a series of human dimensions studies.

This study will provide the agency with new insights into Maine residents’ attitudes toward the agency itself as well as big game and freshwater fisheries management in the state. Through Responsive Management’s extensive data collection and consultation based on decades of human dimensions research, the Department is tailoring its communications and marketing strategies affecting how the public perceives the agency, its priorities, and its accomplishments.

The Department is also in the process of applying the research findings to the new iterations of its big game and freshwater fisheries management plans. “Over the past few months, Responsive Management has provided the most comprehensive assessment of stakeholder opinions and attitudes our agency has ever had,” says Nate Webb, special projects coordinator with the Department. “Thanks to their efforts, we now have a solid foundation on which to base our management plans for big game and freshwater fisheries.”


With new data regarding Mainers’ opinions on the management of black bear, moose, deer, and turkey (Maine’s four primary big game species), as well as the state’s multitude of freshwater fish species (including the iconic brook trout), the Department is better able to balance biological goals and objectives with the needs and preferences of residents.

The first of the three studies, which resulted in the new agency-wide communications and marketing plan, was initiated in June 2015; the final research for the updated big game and fisheries management plans was completed the following June. Data collection for the three projects involved Maine general population residents, hunters, anglers, wildlife viewers, trappers, boaters, and landowners, and included surveys, focus groups, public meetings, and interactive online “Town Hall” discussion forums.

Black Bear
Black Bear

To develop the communications and marketing plan for the agency, Responsive Management partnered with Mile Creek Communications, a firm specializing in strategic marketing and communications for the conservation and outdoor recreation community. The newly created communications roadmap was written to raise overall public awareness and support for the Department’s mission, programs, and projects, and to measurably increase support for and participation in activities and programs administered by the Department. More generally, the plan was designed to strengthen the agency’s relationship with residents.

The other two studies centered on the human dimensions of wildlife and fisheries management. Historically, the Department has updated its big game and fisheries management plans every 15 years, partly based on input from working groups made up of citizen stakeholders, landowners, sportsmen’s groups, wildlife and conservation nonprofits, and tourism groups. For the new plans, the Department was interested in expanding the public input process so that as many Maine residents as possible could participate in the planning. Thus, rather than engaging only a small number of key individuals, the new management plans were developed based on input from thousands of Maine residents.

The Process: An Overview of Project Methodologies

  • Data Collection for the Department’s Communications and Marketing Plan
  • Data Collection for the Department’s Big Game and Fisheries Management Plans

The Findings: An Overview of Project Results

  • Communications and Marketing Plan for the Department
  • The Human Dimensions of Big Game Management
  • The Human Dimensions of Freshwater Fisheries Management
Brook Trout
Brook Trout

Responsive Management is an internationally recognized public opinion and attitude survey research firm specializing in natural resource and outdoor recreation issues. Our mission is to help natural resource and outdoor recreation agencies and organizations better understand and work with their constituents, customers, and the public.

Responsive Management has conducted human dimensions research in all 50 states and 15 countries, completing more than 1,000 studies. We have conducted research for every state fish and wildlife agency, most federal resource agencies, and most DNRs and NGOs, including the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Rifle Association, the Archery Trade Association, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, SCI, and dozens of others.

Additionally, Responsive Management has conducted survey research for many of the nation’s top universities, including Colorado State University, Duke University, North Carolina State University, Penn State University, Rutgers University, Stanford University, Texas Tech, University of Florida, Virginia Tech, West Virginia University, and more.

Responsive Management Services

  • Multi-modal surveys
  • Telephone surveys
  • Mail surveys
  • Web-based surveys (when appropriate)
  • Personal interviews
  • Park / outdoor recreation intercepts
  • Focus groups
  • Needs assessments
  • Data collection for researchers and universities
  • Marketing, communications, outreach, and
  • public relations plans
  • Program evaluations
  • Policy analyses

For more information about Responsive Management, visit