The wild side of analytics

Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks creates analytics habitat

Fish, wildlife and outdoor recreation are important to the quality of life for all Kansans and vital to the tourism industry and economy of the state. As a public steward of Kansas' natural resources, the Department of Wildlife and Parks works to conserve and enhance Kansas' natural heritage, wildlife and habitats. As part of its efforts, it is applying analytics to help assure the benefits of the state's diverse living resources for future generations.

The increased economic activity in the state from these anglers was $1,403 per angler annually, or $3.8 million over the three-year campaign period … it had a positive impact on the state's economy.

Doug Nygren
Fisheries Section Chief

Making progress

"We have about nine databases in my section, with various types of information, that really couldn't talk to each other very well," explains Doug Nygren, the department's Fisheries Section Chief. "Our biologists look at the data annually to synthesize it into about 200 annual progress and management reports, which look at things like changes in water levels, fishing regulations and species stock. It was a fairly time-consuming process for them, and they were spending about 30 to 45 days generating the reports. By automating the process, we anticipate cutting that down by about two-thirds."

As a fee-based agency responsible for maintaining an appropriate level of wildlife and aquatic species in the state, the department relies on its ability to generate revenue from hunting and angling licenses each year. In order to continually improve its revenue from licenses, it needed to better understand the data it had on its sport hunting and fishing customers.

"We really didn't have much in the way of usable data on our customers until recently. And we certainly didn't have a good way to get at that information," says Nygren. "Using SAS® data integration capabilities to clean the license data, we found out we had a tremendous amount of churn and that we had more customers than we knew about – they just weren't buying every year. By mining the data, we've figured out how to motivate customers to renew more consistently, such as offering multiyear licenses or early-season discounts. We also discovered that youth between the ages of 16 and 21 had the lowest rate, so we designed a special $40 youth license that is good until the age of 21."

Contributing to the state economy

To increase the number of new licenses and renewals, the department used SAS to target its marketing communications to past and current customers.

"We've been mining our customer database to drive marketing campaigns for three years," Nygren explains. "Compared to a control group of casual anglers, we had a group of about 85,000 that we sent direct marketing materials to. We had a lift of about 3,000 licensed anglers. Without SAS' ability to clean our data, we really had no way of knowing who the casual anglers were. Our success relied on our ability to determine, from lifestyle information, who would be more receptive to messages than others.

"The increased economic activity in the state from these anglers was $1,403 per angler annually, or $3.8 million over the three-year campaign period," he continues. "The campaign generated $365,000 in state and local taxes, and a little over $417,000 in federal taxes – it had a positive impact on the state's economy."

Increased federal aid

According to Nygren, one of the team's most important uses of SAS pertains to calculating how much federal aid the agency receives, based on the number of licensed individuals that hunt or fish in the state.

"We use SAS to accurately determine the number of individual hunters and anglers that we can claim for federal aid purposes," he explains. "Using SAS helped increase our federal aid certifications in the first year by 10 percent."

The department also uses SAS to determine the distribution of grants to local governments where state lakes are located. The grants are used for fisheries improvements such as constructing boat ramps, fishing docks or dam repairs. In the future, the department will use SAS to determine how much it spends on labor to manage the state's bodies of water.

A good partner

"What we like about SAS is that we can leave all of our databases the way they are and access the data without reinventing everything," Nygren says. "If we went with a different piece of software, we might have had to reconfigure all of them. My field staff has the power of SAS Analytics, and we have a Web portal for reports that can be customized by the users. It's reduced a lot of headaches for our IT staff, who used to handle a lot of special requests – we can get the reports ourselves without having to bother IT."

To help better utilize its data for analysis and to create insightful reports for users across the agency, Nygren retained SAS Alliance member Solution Design Team to help with the data integration and report design work.

"The consensus among my staff was 'Wow, how did they get that much work done in two weeks?'" Nygren concludes. "I showed the progress and management report work to another state agency. They quickly realized the benefit when they saw what we were doing. We'll continue to utilize and improve on what we have and add new features and new reports and new databases. Soon we'll be tying our natural resource databases to our fiscal resources databases so that we can make calculations we've never been able to perform before, such as what it costs to produce a species of fish. We've never been able to do that easily in the past."


Needed a solution to integrate multiple databases to generate hundreds of progress reports and optimize financial and federal aid analysis and reports, while increasing annual hunting and angling license revenue.


SAS® Business Analytics


  • Reduced reporting time by two-thirds.
  • Grew licensed anglers by 3,000.
  • Increased revenue by $3.8 million over three years.
  • Increased federal aid by 10%, while ensuring proper allocation of grant funding.
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