Wyoming Harvest Survey Coordinator Emily Gates answered that question. While it is very important that hunters who receive a harvest survey complete them, it is neither efficient nor necessary for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to follow up with every antelope, deer and elk hunter in order to collect good information about how many hunters were in the field and how many animals they harvested in a season.
Studies have shown that not all hunters fill out harvest reports or surveys even if they are mandatory. Many factors, such as the number of days spent hunting or the number of deer harvested, can bias which hunters are more likely to comply. That means the number of animals reported through mandatory harvest report programs doesn’t necessarily reflect the number of animals actually harvested.
Additionally, mandatory harvest survey programs often involve consequences for hunters who don’t fill out surveys that range from fines to loss of hunting privileges. These penalties are not only inconvenient to hunters, but would be expensive for our agency to enforce.
Sending out surveys to a targeted statistical sample of hunters helps us account for people who don’t fill out surveys and other biases. Our surveys are designed to produce accurate and cost-efficient estimates of big game harvest without enforcing penalties on hunters.