Estimating public willingness to fund nongame conservation through state tax initiatives

Authors

  • C. Jane Dalrymple,

    Corresponding author
    1. North Carolina State University, Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Program, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. Box 8001, NCSU Campus, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA.
    • North Carolina State University, Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Program, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
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  • M. Nils Peterson,

    1. North Carolina State University, Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Program, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
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  • David T. Cobb,

    1. North Carolina State University, Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Program, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
    2. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Division of Wildlife Management, Raleigh, NC 27699, USA
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  • Erin O. Sills,

    1. Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
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  • Howard D. Bondell,

    1. Department of Statistics, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
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  • D. Joseph Dalrymple

    1. Department of Marine Sciences, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL 36688, USA
    2. Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Dauphin Island, AL 36528, USA
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  • Associate Editor: Grado

Abstract

Nongame conservation is insufficiently funded at local, national, and global levels. Despite campaigns and reforms over the past 30 years in the United States, adequate and consistent federal funding has failed to materialize and shifted the focus to state-level initiatives. We surveyed North Carolina residents during April–May 2010, to assess public willingness to fund nongame conservation, preferred nongame conservation funding mechanisms, and key predictors of support for nongame funding. We estimated a model of willingness-to-pay (WTP) using interval-censored data modeling and compared models using the Akaike Information Criterion. The mean WTP was US$98.80/year/household when respondents were allowed to choose their own tax vehicle, thus removing any payment vehicle bias; an additional sales tax on outdoor recreation equipment was the most preferred funding mechanism. In a follow-up question, respondents indicated a mean WTP of US$32.92/employed adult (equivalent to about $65/household) annually via a flat income tax. The importance of nongame conservation to respondents, frequency of watching and/or enjoying wildlife, and education were positively related to WTP, whereas age was negatively related to WTP. Prisons were the most popular source from which to reallocate funds to nongame conservation (48%), and respondents believed an average of US$545,000 should be reallocated. Our findings suggested that while the general public indicated that they valued nongame conservation and were amenable to tax increases or reallocations for nongame conservation, they believed that taxes should be user-based and specialized (e.g., outdoor equipment taxes). These findings highlighted public WTP for nongame conservation even during an economic recession. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.

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