Job Market Paper
Managing mortality of multi-use megafauna
Enriquez, AJ and DC Finnoff
Status: Revised and resubmitted
Grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which are currently listed under the Endangered Species Act, are a multi-use species that cause both benefits and damages. As the grizzly bear population has increased over time, there has been an increase in the number of grizzly bear-human conflicts and non-harvest human-caused grizzly bear mortalities. Federal protections prevent active management (i.e., direct population control). Instead, wildlife managers rely on reactive management (i.e., indirect population control through conflict management). To shed light on when a recovery program ought to transition to active management, a bioeconomic model is constructed and parameterized. A representative wildlife agency decides whether or not to enact active management by taking into account how stock-dependent benefits and damages adjust along a recovery path. Given the assumptions in the base case, the grizzly bear population has surpassed the size at which protections ought to have been removed. When a program of active management is a contentious and negotiated settlement with little flexibility, the natural capital value of a live animal may well be negative for an interval of time, during which it is optimal for society to continue conserving the species by developing a buffer.
Yellowstone National Park, 2017