Job Market Paper
Managing Mortality of Multi-Use Megafauna
Aaron Enriquez & David Finnoff
Grizzly bears, which have recovered from the brink of extinction in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, are a prime example of a multi-use species in that they induce both stock-dependent benefits and damages. Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections bar wildlife agencies from establishing active management to control the population. Instead, current management is reactive: agencies make management removals of conflict grizzly bears and humans occasionally kill grizzly bears in self-defense. This contributes to grizzly bears incurring high non-hunting mortality in spite of ESA protections. To shed light on an optimal recovery program, a bioeconomic model, in the spirit of Rondeau, is constructed and parameterized with available data. Results indicate the population has already surpassed the size at which ESA protections ought to have been removed and active management enacted. A key finding is that, along the recovery path, the natural capital value of a live grizzly bear may well be optimally negative for an interval of time, during which it is optimal for society to continue to practice extreme conservation and develop a nuisance buffer of the species before switching to active management.
Yellowstone National Park, 2017