Three-quarters of respondents in a recent Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife survey said they’d be willing to pay an additional $100 in taxes every year - provided the money were earmarked for fish and wildlife programs.
Members of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission took this as a sign that residents really do want to protect the state’s wild creatures.
“We’ve known this state’s natural wonders are important to its citizens,” said Lisa Pelly, the commission’s chairperson. “People want their children and grandchildren to enjoy them, too.”
The survey was conducted in September and October by Decision Data Inc., a Kirkland-based research firm. It measured perceptions about all fish and wildlife in Washington, including game and non-game species.
Nearly everyone surveyed - 93 percent - said healthy fish and wildlife populations were indicators of a healthy environment for people. But 57 percent judged the health of the state’s fish and wildlife populations as either “fair” or “poor.”
Conversely, 13 percent thought the populations were in “excellent” or “very good” condition.
Three-quarters of those surveyed rated habitat loss an “extremely” or “very” important factor in the decline of fish and wildlife populations across the state. Three-quarters of respondents also blamed habitat loss on development, including population growth, hydroelectric development, and the timber industry.
The survey also indicated areas where people felt the state should concentrate its energies in improving the situation. These included (in order of importance):
Protection of habitat threatened by development, logging, pollution and over-fishing.
Stream-restoration projects for wild trout and salmon populations.
Wild salmon and steelhead recovery programs.
Enlisting volunteers for conservation projects such as habitat restoration and protection.