The Montana deer and Elk hunting population: The importance of cohort group, license price, and population demographics on hunter retention, recruitment, and population change

Robert A. Schorr, Paul M. Lukacs, Justin A. Gude

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Big-game hunting is a valuable resource for outdoor recreation opportunities, an economic driver for state and local economies, and the primary mechanism for funding game and non-game wildlife management. However, hunting license sales are declining, leading many state wildlife management agencies to re-evaluate funding and management structures. Understanding the mechanisms behind such declines, and diagnosing the persistence of such trends is necessary to anticipate license fund fluctuations. To examine hunter recruitment and retention rates, we analyzed a data set of >490,000 deer and elk license records from 2002 to 2011 from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks' Automated Licensing System. We used a temporal symmetry model in a mark-recapture framework to estimate hunter retention, recruitment rates, and population change, and then used population change estimates to forecast future hunter populations. We used covariates of gender, age, residency, and license price to improve model parsimony. Millennial generation hunters increased during the 11-year analysis, and this was driven by high recruitment rates of young hunters, especially women, but recruitment decreased dramatically as youth aged. Because Baby Boomers constitute such a large proportion of the hunting population, decreases in recruitment and retention in this cohort drove declines in the Montana hunter population. Increasing license price decreased the probability of recruiting and retaining hunters. The hunter population was stable until 2006, but has been declining since that time with nearly a 50% decline in hunter recruitment from 2002 to 2011.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)944-952
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Wildlife Management
Volume78
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Keywords

  • Baby Boomers
  • Montana
  • Pradel model
  • deer
  • elk
  • hunter recruitment
  • hunter retention
  • license price
  • license purchase probability
  • mark-recapture

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The Montana deer and Elk hunting population: The importance of cohort group, license price, and population demographics on hunter retention, recruitment, and population change'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this