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Keywords:

  • access;
  • economics;
  • hunting;
  • Michigan;
  • Odocoileus virginanus;
  • white-tailed deer

Abstract

Access to lands for hunting is widely recognized as critical to sustaining and developing participation in hunting. Deer hunters comprise a substantial portion of recreational hunters in the United States, and numerous stakeholders benefit from the deer management services provided by hunters on public lands. We estimated the economic value of publicly accessible deer hunting land in Michigan using economic models of hunting destinations for hunters in the archery season and for hunters in the firearm season. We found that the amounts of state-owned hunting land, federally owned hunting land, and publicly accessible, privately owned Commercial Forest Act land are significant (P < 0.001) and positive determinants of hunting destinations. The annual economic value of Michigan's publicly accessible hunting land to archery and firearm deer hunters, beyond hunter expenditures, was estimated to be over $80 million. Access to state-owned land accounted for approximately $50 million in annual economic value to Michigan deer hunters. The average per-acre value of publicly accessible hunting land is greatest in the Southern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, where public access is scarce and the majority of hunters reside. Understanding the economic values hunters derive from publicly accessible hunting lands will enable managers and policy makers to make better decisions when considering policy options that involve reducing or increasing public access. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.