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Keywords:

  • Bonasa umbellus;
  • economics;
  • hunting;
  • Michigan;
  • non-market valuation;
  • public land;
  • ruffed grouse

Abstract

Although numerous studies have focused on estimating economic benefits associated with big game hunting experiences, economic valuation efforts examining small game hunting have largely been neglected. This is especially surprising with respect to hunting grouse, a family of widely distributed upland game birds targeted by about 800,000 hunters in 2011. Furthermore, despite efforts by federal and state agencies directed at improving and increasing public land for recreational hunting purposes, a dearth of studies exist regarding the economic benefits of public land to hunters. Using the travel cost method and data from a 2008 survey of Michigan ruffed grouse hunters, we examine relationships between hunting site choice and publicly accessible hunting land. We find that federally owned land, state-owned land, and publicly accessible, privately owned Commercial Forest Act (CFA) land are positive predictors of hunter site selection (P < 0.001). Given this relationship, we then estimated the economic benefits of different types of publicly accessible land to ruffed grouse hunters by examining the willingness of hunters to incur increasing travel costs to hunt in counties with greater amounts of publicly accessible land. We estimated the economic benefits of publicly accessible hunting land for ruffed grouse hunters in Michigan to be over $20 million in 2008, with economic benefits of CFA land comprising about $6.9 million of this annual total. Estimating the economic benefits of publicly accessible hunting land for outdoor recreationists provides a useful metric for policy makers to use in evaluating how changes in the amount and nature of publicly accessible hunting land affects these individuals. © 2013 The Wildlife Society.