Rural System's

Modern Wild Faunal Resource System Management
[ Web site Home | The Course's Home | Table of Contents | The Finder | Glossary ]

The Basics of Objectives

More change in wildlife resource management can be made by clarifying, changing, and solidifying sound objectives than by any other practice.

Herein, goals and objectives are synonymous. Later (below) types of each are described, thus clarifying the confusion that has existed in the use of the two words over the years and the major differences in their use among different fields. Either is appropriate when the type is specified. Herein, I use objectives.

Objectives are essential for designing wildlife management projects, for making decisions. There are 7 types of objectives (or goals). They are:

Success criteria
Policy or constraints

These seven types need to be memorized.

Objectives are needed because they:

  1. Help communicate
  2. Improve coordination and cooperation
  3. Improve group interaction and efficiency
  4. Allow optimization of a system
  5. Explain actions by certain people or subgroups
  6. Justify requests for resources and, later, how they are utilized
  7. Point up research needs
  8. Provide the basis for feedback
  9. Are the basis for rational management, and
  10. Are fundamental requirements for logical problem analyses and solutions.

Objectives are essential for designing wildlife management projects and for making decisions of most types.

Without a destination, any route will do.
Without objectives, any performance can be called a success.

Why people have not created them when they are so important and have so many advantages seems illogical. The logic is that they are difficult to develop, they change, different people have different objectives. There are many criteria for good objectives. They are poorly followed. Writing them may only solidify conflicts. People do not know what others will do with them (perhaps they will be improperly interpreted and used in an evil fashion!). The evidence is scant that they will be used at all and so spending time in developing them may be a waste.

More change in wildlife resource management can be made by clarifying, changing, and solidifying sound objectives than by any other practice.

To "design" requires stating objectives. Managers design. They should start with objectives. Objectives are criteria for "goodness". Criteria are the essence of epistemology (also known as criteriology).

Do not start with "problems". Problems exist in the gap between objectives and the actual situation.

There are 17 criteria for evaluating objectives.

Table 1. A guide for evaluating the wording and structure of written objectives.
1. It is important, worthy of specific consideration, and non-trivial.
2. It is consistent with higher level objectives (see discussion of levels later).
3. It goes beyond preventing deleterious effects.
4. There is believed to be one or more ways of achieving it at some level.
5. It attains at a level beyond presently known capabilities of use or benefit (realistic but suggesting a challenge).
6. It has no hidden objective.
7. It tends to be long-term.
8. Agreement on acceptable units of measure of attainment (at least tentative indexes) can be reached.
9. Progress toward it can be measured.
10. It expresses as a production function what to obtain or to retain.
11. It is flexible, allowing for adjustment to new directions or conditions.
12. It contains no methodology (not expressing how something will be achieved).
13. It cannot be combined with another objective on the basis of the participant.
14. It has been written for the proper audience.
15. It can be understood to at least three people's mutual satisfaction.
16. It is grammatically correct, often starting with the word "To" followed by an action or accomplishment verb (see 10).
17. It is brief.

Few people see the need for making decisions more precise. Note the difference in actions needed or proof of success that needs to be delivered to a supervisor, client, or to a court.

Table 2. Examples of type 5, primary objectives. There is no one set of objectives for wildlife managers. Objectives need to be developed for each area and each population of resource users. The more specific, the better. A representative set is shown.
1. To maximize the sightings of wild animals.
2. To minimize the energy cost of managing the habitat on area Z.
3. To minimize species losses.
4. To maximize the known number of native species.
5. To minimize the measured crop and livestock losses in profits caused by wild animals.
6. To maximize visitor-days to area Z spent in seeking wildlife for photography.
7. To maximize C, an index to citizens' knowledge of the wildlife laws, regulations, and objectives.
8. To create and maintain a system to secure the best possible scenarios and views of the future and to develop
simulations by which to test the consequences of such future states on current decisions and action programs.

Examples of increased precision:

  1. To maximize the numbers of species X.
  2. To maximize the biomass of species X harvested from the area.
  3. To maximize the annual average and minimize the variance in useable flesh of species X harvested from the area over a 30-year period.

It is essential that objectives be decided for without such decisions it is impossible to evaluate whether management has succeeded, been effective, been cost-effective. Should other practices be used? To achieve what? the next question and it requires stated and written objectives (for charlatans will change their objectives to make conditions be "exactly what they intended to get").

Table 3. A set of type 5 potential deer herd or deer resource management objectives. It is likely that each will result in very different decisions made about actions and expenditures to achieve them. Rarely will more than 4 be selected and weighted.
1. Maximize the total harvest.
2. Maximize the harvest of males.
3. Maximize the total pounds of animals harvested.
4. Maximize the total pounds of meat harvested.
5. Maximize the total pounds of useable meat harvested.
6. Maximize the total pounds of useable meat harvested and utilized.
7. Maximize the increase in harvest.
8. Maximize the mean annual harvest.
9. Maximize the total 10-year harvest.
10. Minimize the variance among reported harvests over the past 10 years.
11. Minimize the variation index over 10 years (coefficient of variation or standard deviation)
12. Maximize the estimated net present worth.
13. Minimize the herd management cost.
14. Maximize the total hunter hours spent.
15. Minimize the time spent hunting by all hunters taking an animal.
16. Maximize the weighted reported benefits from a long diverse set as reported by a random sample of hunters.
17. Minimize law enforcement difficulty.
18. Minimize law violations.
19. Maximize the distribution of hunters.
20. Maximize the distribution of successful hunters.
21. Maximize cumulative benefits over 10 years.
22. Maximize the current estimated present net value of the annual deer herd and related hunting. 23. Maximize the rate of herd increase over 10 years.
24. Maximize the rate of herd increase over 20 years.
25. Minimize the estimated herd monetary damages to crops, gardens, rangeland, and forests.
26. Maximize the average number of trophy bucks taken each year.
27. Maximize the total number of trophy bucks taken over 20 years.
28. Maximize the median number of trophy bucks (over 8 points) taken in 10 years.
29. Maximize the modal trophy bucks taken over 20 years.
30. Minimize the proportion of male deer in the population.
31. Maximize the average diversity of the harvest over 5 years.

Maximizing present-discounted value is in primary use throughout natural resource fields. It is a type 3 objective.

Where monetary values are difficult to get, maximizing a benefit-to-cost (B/C) ratio is useful.

Express benefits using B = (P I TDVES(R) where

Express costs, C, as the total present discounted cost of any and all activities, programs, and projects over the planning period.

To maximize Q* is a reasonable basis for deciding on when a manager is doing well. Promotion, praise, and raises can be based on Q* where

Q* = [1.0 - (QA - Q) / Q] x 100

QA is the actual score; Q is the stated desired condition; Q* is the "score" being perfect at 100.

An alternative view is the negative feedback equation

Qt + 1 = Q - (1-C)(Qt-Q)

Where Q is the desired state (e.g., 2361 units produced per year), Qt the current production, Qt+ 1 the next production (usually next year) and C is the amount of control (e.g., 0.05) a manager can have over reducing the difference.

C will be realized to be, grossly, as the amount of money that the manager has to cause the system to change.

Remember: only extra units (over those produced naturally or by the present system) can be counted as managerial success.

Consider this analysis of an objective:

The wildlife manager is familiar with the directives: "Here it is; manage this wildlife area to the best of your ability."

This directive, which may become the only objective immediately available, cover a variety of tasks and has many connotations. There is no common definition for management: some doubts exist about the boundaries of the area itself. Does management mean changing habitat, preventing change in habitat and buildings, changing people's behavior on refuges, working with animals only; protecting (only) habitat and wildlife, or expanding area uses and service? Is it any of these or some combination of them? How will success be measured? How can a program be evaluated? The difficulty of writing precise, useful objectives is real. One example of an analysis of past weaknesses in statement may be helpful.

The wildlife management staff objective of the Kofa Game Range are singled out for analysis. The objective was written in 1968 and since then there have been improvements in writing objectives.

The Kofa Game Range objective (February, 1968) read: "Objectives of the Kofa Game Range in order of priority, are:

Desert Bighorn Sheep - to maintain an optimum population of bighorn sheep through protection, and enhancement and management of the habitat.

Consider an analysis, and an example of how present and future statements might be treated:

1. "Bighorn Sheep" - How was the priority established (recall that "priority" means sequence or merely rank-order, not relative value)? What were the criteria? What is the weight, i.e. how much farther out front is Bighorn Sheep management than No. 2 "Other Wildlife?" How much difference exists between No. 4 "Nature Enjoyment" and No. 5 "Preservation of Unique Habitat?" If this is not known, then all must be weighted equally. At least a sequence could be developed as follows:

No. 1, No. 2 = No. 3, No. 4 = No.5.

2. "Maintain" - There are only three things a population can do: increase, stabilize, or decrease. Maintain can mean: decrease, but not below a certain level, or stabilize for a few years then increase, increase rapidly -- almost anything except become extinct. I suspect that the managers of the Kofa would like to say "increase to measured carrying capacity and stabilize at predicted annual carrying capacity." "Stability" would be measured by a least-squares approach, comparing the population and carrying capacity. The staff may not have been able to do that then, but capability and capacities should not get in the way of stating objectives. Objectives show what limitations must be overcome, what new ideas must be developed, and what new techniques must be sought.

3. "Optimum" - Optimum is a concept of maximizing (or minimizing) within constraints, a desirable word for an objectives statement. It could be put: "the maximum population of trophy sheep consistent with range carrying capacity and parasite danger." This makes the objectives tight, spells out some aspects of the sex and age structure desired, and provides three major constraints.

which may or may not have a habitat-use-to-crowding interaction. The threat or "danger" seems to be a function of sheep population size.

4. "Through" - Objectives need not and should not have methods included within them. The objective is not to exercise law enforcement; this is the means to the end. Ends and means are easily confused.

5. "Protection" - Protection is difficult to measure as stated. What is needed or should be immediately obvious is a relevant performance indicator or unit of effectiveness. What may be superior to "protection" is "a reduction in known losses to poachers and predators", a measurable idea. Is not this essentially what is meant by sheep protection?

6. "Enhancement" - This is a vacant, meaningless word. How is habitat enhanced? Habitat is protected or manipulated (and protection is a form of manipulation). Enhancement is a concept of value, human values. Arizona Highways magazine enhances my value of the desert; it changes my outlook on the desert, though neither Arizona Highways nor I have had any profound, direct influence on the desert.

7. "Management" - Also a sloppy word, management is unmeasurable; it has no relevant performance indicator. If it must be in the objective, then it should be "manipulation of the total habitat needs of the sheep."

Thus, an alternate and improved objective would read:

Desert Bighorn Sheep - to maximize annually the population of trophy bighorns within 5% of measured carrying capacity and below parasite danger.

One other point, objectives do not have to be agreed upon at all levels or by everyone at a particular level. Objectives are value judgements and total agreement will usually sub-optimize. Majority opinion may sub-optimize but it can also maximize if the highest objective perceived by the group is adopted. Concerning perception, some people, when asked if they have an answer to "who am I?", lack the philosophical capability or sophistication and can only react: "That's a stupid question: Here I am!" objectives need not be argued with or comprehended by everyone. They must be explained as best possible, then once explained, translated into action.

Possible objectives for a wildlife law enforcement agency

The agency accomplishment is the total accomplishments by individual agents (officers. wardens, etc.) as reflected in surveys and agency statistics.

  1. X1 = weighted (a) politeness scale based on a questionnaire given to hunters having contact with an agent. Scale ranges from O to 100.

  2. X2 = weighted (b) law simplicity based on a questionnaire given to 100 hunters. The complexity scale, C, is from O to 100 and thus X2 = 100

  3. X3 = weighted (c) arrest-to-violation ratio. Based on anonymous questionnaire results, citizens are asked if they have violated game laws (V) and have been arrested or warned (A). X3 = (A/V + 100) A/V will approach 1.0.

  4. X4 = weighted (d) public attitude toward cooperation.

    X 4 = r/R x 100 where r is the people who would report a violation and R the people asked (a simple proportion), r/R, will approach 1.0.

  5. X5 = weighted (e) admitted violators. Number (V) of all asked (R) if they have committed a violation X5 = (1.0 - V/R) x 100

  6. X6 = weighted (f) admitted violators of a major game law such as deer spotlighting.

    Thus X6 = (1.0-VD/R) x 100.

  7. X7 = weighted (g) hunter satisfaction index where X7 = (1.0 - (S/RI)) x 100 and S is the number of hunters saying agents significantly impaired their hunt by their inspection and RI are respondents having been inspected.

  8. X8 = weighted (h) safety index where

    X8 = (1.0 - ((accidentst - accidentst 1 )/accidentst 1 ) x 100

  9. X8 = weighted (i) change in proportion of license sales to people in hunting age classes. If X9 is equal to or greater than 100, then X8 = 100, otherwise it is the actual value where

    X9 = (1-0 - (salest - salest 1)/salest_1)) x 100

    Thus the agency performance is

    Q* = SIGMAWjXj/S Wj

    The maximum score or agency performance is 100.

A Simple Example for Using the Weighted Objectives Technique:

Bill has only 3 objective: A, B, and C (like being diverse, producing game, and satisfying resourse users). He sees only 3 ways (projects or actions) to achieve them. P, Q, and R.

The Objective Weighting matrix =

Objectives A B C
Assigned Weights of
Importance of
Each Objective
8 7 10
  P 8/ 64 7/ 49 9/ 90
  Q 4/ 32 9 / 63 5/ 50
  R 9/ 72 7/ 49 2/ 20
  Sum of Products 168 161 160

The number to the right of each slash mark is the product for the respective row and column. The number to the left of the slash mark is an estimate of the effectiveness of each project to achieve each specific objective (for the row and column).

The decision maker is a maximizer, selecting the project (in this case Project P with the highest score) that most achieves his/her set of most highly weighted objectives. The products are close. If there is a tie, weights may be re-examined; new objectives considered, or evaluations improved. When things are of equal importance, a coin-flip is an appropriate decision procedure. There are no zero weights for objectives (or any one such item would be excluded as unimportant.) Another Example from the Above Agency Numbers:

An agency's leaders (with commissioners, etc.) assigned the following weights on a scale of 1 to 100.

The results from surveys, etc., are shown with each weight:

(50 (86) + 60 (59) + 100 (12) + 80 (61) + 90 (31) + 85 (96) + 70 (91) + 60 (98) + 80 (100))/675

(4300 + 3540 + 1200 + 4880 + 2790 + 8160 + 6370 + 5880 + 8000) / 675 = 45120/675 =67.8

The agency's score in greatest gains can be 67. The lower products (e.g., 1200) suggest where changes can be made, often for the least effort.

Later see Working with the complex objective.

Selecting a set of objectives, even a small set, is very difficult and is perhaps the main reason it has not been done. Computer aids are available or can be created. Increased precision in selection can allow and will encourage greater management precision and thus more likely achievement of the selected objectives. Without objectives, almost any outputs or system performance should suffice.

Go to the top.

Other Resources:
[ Web site Home | Lasting Forests (Introductions) | Units of Lasting Forests | Ranging | Trevey | Forests | Wildlife Law Enforcement Systems | Antler Points | Species-Specific Management | Wilderness | Appendices | Ideas for Development | Disclaimer]
Quick Access to the Contents of

This Web site is maintained by R. H. Giles, Jr.
Send an email message - Questions, revisions?
Last revision January 17, 2004.