Economic considerations in managing Oregon Rocky Mountain elk Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/1v53k066q

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  • The size of elk herds in Eastern Oregon has become a controversial issue. Trade-offs exist between the numbers of elk and domestic livestock on a given area of land, and also between elk and commercial timber harvesting policies. Disputes arise from differing views as to proper use of the natural resource base, specifically, public forested and grazing lands. Economic comparisons between elk and alternative uses of the land are complicated by the non-market nature of the elk resource, as this necessitates using a method to value the resource which may not be familiar to many decision makers. The objectives of this thesis were: (1) to analyze the demand for antlerless elk tags in eastern Oregon and to use the analysis to examine alternative pricing policies for allocating these antlerless tags, (2) to evaluate alternative elk management strategies from an economic perspective, and (3) to optimize societal benefits from the land base over time. Objective (1) was met by using the travel cost method. Results indicate that state hunting revenues would rise substantially if tag prices were increased so as to equilibrate quantities demanded and supplied. Objective (2) was met by using a computer simulation model to ascertain the impacts of harvesting and management policies upon the herd's stability and productivity. The results, placing emphasis on the antlerless animals, indicate that a slight reduction in current herd levels is economically desirable. This result is caused in part by the decreasing returns to scale from the elk herd as measured by total harvest per 1000 summer adult elk. Limitations of these conclusions with respect to bull elk demand are documented. Finally, objective (3) is met by formulating the dynamic relationships between elk, domestic livestock, and timber as a system of dynamic Lagrangian multipliers. This allows optimal inter-temporal allocation of resources by discounting future returns from these resources and equating marginal benefits of present and future use. The decision rules are examined, and economic implications of the multipliers are discussed. Although a theoretical model, some data is discussed, as are directions for future research.
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