Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hunter behavior: planning for the future of wildlife funding

by Rob Schorr, CNHP zoologist

As in Colorado, income from elk and deer hunting drives the economy of wildlife management in the state of Montana.  Rob Schorr and co-authors Dr. Paul Lukacs (University of Montana) and Justin Gude (Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks) analyzed Montana elk and deer hunter data from 2002-2011 to understand what factors influence hunter behavior and the funding that comes from license sales.

Rob Schorr elk hunting in Colorado
They determined that gender, residency, age, license price, and cohort behaviors influence retention and recruitment of individuals into the hunting population.   Millennial hunters grew in numbers but their recruitment decreased rapidly with age.  Baby Boomers were the largest contingency of the hunting population and had the highest retention rates, but as this group ages it is waning from the population.  Increases in license price decreased hunter retention and recruitment slightly.  Hunting populations were growing or stable until 2006, but hunting recruitment decreased by 50% from 2002 to 2011 leading to decreasing hunter populations in Montana.  The $50 million that comes from elk and deer hunting annually accounts for more than 60% of Montana Fish Wildlife Park’s revenue, but as hunter populations decline funding structures for management of game and non-game species will need to be altered.

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