Natural Resources Economics and Policy

Contributed Oral

What Are Fish Worth? a Food-Based Cost Valuation of Canada’s Recreational Fishery
Shane Mahoney

Wildlife agencies in the United States and Canada collect recreational hunting and angling data for species legally harvested within their jurisdictions.  These data are used to help determine hunting and angling quotas and best population management approaches.  Despite both countries sharing a common approach to sustainable wildlife use, however, such information has not previously been compiled at the national or bi-national level.  No North American overview of recreational wildlife or fish harvest has ever been attempted.  Determining national and/or broader geographic trends in such harvests has therefore been impossible.  This circumstance has also precluded any possibility of evaluating the social, economic and conservation benefits of such harvests. 

The Wild Harvest Initiative® is tackling this problem.

In Canada, recreational fishing harvest data is also compiled by the Federal Government using the “Survey of Recreational Fishing in Canada.”  While the survey provides considerable information pertaining to harvest records, it does not investigate the annual food value of Canada’s recreational fishing harvest, a considerable vacancy in terms of assessing its overall significance.  To address this, the Wild Harvest Initiative® has assigned live and consumable weights to each harvested fish species, as well as dollar values, based on derivations of average retail prices of commercially harvested fish.  This has enabled us to provide, for the first time, an overall cost valuation for this recreationally harvested wild food.     

As articulated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, “use of living resources, if sustainable, is an important conservation tool because the social and economic benefits derived from such use provide incentives for people to conserve them” (IUCN, 2000).  While many wildlife values may form the basis of such incentives, human food procurement is a very important one and must be considered in wildlife management and conservation policy and decision-making.

Why Are There So Many Waterfowl and So Few Northern Bobwhite? Rethinking Federal Coordination.
Chris Williams, Roger Applegate, Philip Coppola

In this paper we ask whether we should we re-examine the future of upland gamebird management and greater federal oversight and partnerships in the 21st Century? Management for waterfowl in North America has been successful due to the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and the subsequent 1986 North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP). While the MBTA included most migratory and non-migratory species, upland gamebirds, including the northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus, hereafter bobwhite), were excluded and retained under state control. While many waterfowl populations have been increasing, bobwhite have declined precipitously during much of the period. Excluding non-migratory gamebirds from the MBTA meant that the multistate coordinating efforts that made the MBTA successful for increasing the management of waterfowl have not been applied. The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) has made a strong effort to unite states within the bobwhite range but does not have the federal anchoring and financial support that was given to states by the MBTA and NAWMP that currently integrates adaptive harvest, habitat management, and financial partnerships to acquire and manage wetlands that support waterfowl production. The NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program (CIP) is designed to serve the function of developing and monitoring habitat for bobwhites but is entirely voluntary and dependent entirely on state and non-governmental organization funds, lacking federal grants and federal Duck Stamp funds. To catch up with the successes of waterfowl, we discuss the implications of increasing coordination, partnerships, and funding mechanisms between the federal government, state governments, and non-governmental organizations to provide common landscape level population monitoring and modeling, adaptive harvest regulations, habitat management goals, and a national upland game bird stamp.

Extending the Conversation: Understanding and Supporting Wildlife Grad Student Wellbeing
Hannah Specht, Ellen Pero, Elizabeth Metcalf, Joshua J. Millspaugh
Efforts to diversify the wildlife profession won’t be successful unless the culture and structures of our
professional institutions are supportive and inclusive. This asks us take a hard look at the institutions of
our field to understand where structures are failing to support the success of individuals and ultimately hampering efforts towards greater diversity, equity and inclusion. Graduate training is a requirement of most professional wildlife jobs and thus a fundamental institution to examine. In recent years, it has come to light that the mental health and wellbeing of graduate students is in crisis, highlighting an area where institutional norms are potentially problematic. We surveyed graduate students from one of North America’s top Wildlife Graduate Programs to understand the wellbeing experience across typical milestones of a graduate program. We used the survey information to develop tools to use in student orientation and program support. We additionally gained insight into how some structural norms common across graduate institutions contribute to undo hardship and exclusion unequally. Results indicated that adequate funding and a greater support for work-life balance are actionable areas for improving the wellbeing and success of students. Additionally, survey results highlighted the importance of the student-advisor relationship and suggest that reliable, regular access to advisors will facilitate improved wellbeing of graduate students throughout their program. While we share the perspective of one student-led effort, these findings echo many others- we share them here in an effort to extend the conversation towards ultimately changing institutional structures and culture.
Fish and Wildlife Agency Transformation to Adapt to a Changing World
Christopher Serenari, Warren Schlechte

Over the past century U.S. fish and wildlife agencies have worked to conserve the nation’s natural resources. And while these activities have produced many successes, it is now recognized that novel societal and ecological changes require new ways of thinking and broader coalitions. There is evidence that agencies are pursuing unprecedented reform in response to increased demand for the expansion of state fish and wildlife agency services; the rise in the number of endangered species and habitat loss; challenges to traditional or status quo management philosophies, organizational, and policy legitimacy gaps; and declining interest in foundational aspects of the traditional fish and wildlife institution. These novel societal and organizational dynamics led former Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies president Ed Carter to pose the question and rejoinder to his colleagues: “Are we still relevant to the people we serve?” One aspect of introspection has resulted in state and federal agencies to define relevancy in terms of expanding their service boundaries. However, our current crises do not fit neatly into our old precepts of how to govern wildlife and, therefore, agencies need to embrace, adapt, and resolve social and ecological uncertainty and risk for at least the next 100 years in a different way. This presentation will draw from organizational transformation, institutional analysis, and design principles research to explore possibilities for profound agency transformation, increasing agency relevancy at a time when the world needs wildlife agencies to lead and collaborate in ways that bring about positive change though statutes, rules, and policy may mandate the status quo. The ideas presented herein are intended to guide, invigorate, and mobilize change agents; stimulate discussion and debate; and clarify a range of options available to achieve not just bureaucratic efficiency or enhanced constituent satisfaction, but build organizations better equipped to meet 21st Century problems.

Captain Coleslaw Outdoors: A Youtube-Styled Outdoorsman Vlog as Means for High-School Environmental Education
Gino Colella, Rebecca Thomas

In addition to complications education has faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hands-on, exploratory nature of environmental education has undergone many challenges in an increasingly virtual school setting. Similarly, participation in formal hunter education has been decreasing, coiciding with an overall decrease in the number of recreational hunters in the U.S. The declines of environmental experiences in both the formal school and hunter education settings share a need for potentially new and revolutionary forms of pedagogy in order to provide a more virtual style of environmental educational that connects with diverse audiences in new ways. During the 2020-2021 school year, a group of high school students watched educator-created consumptive hunting, fishing, and foraging videos on a weekly basis. These videos tied consumptive outdoor wildlife-related recreation to environmental concepts taught in the classroom. Students completed weekly worksheets to cross-reference lecture materials to each video’s content. In this mixed-methods study, we collected survey data and essay data to understand how learning about consumptive wildlife and wildland practices impacted students’ classroom learning experiences. Findings highlighted the role of the currucilum in shaping student interest in hunting culture and their understanding of environmental concepts, while also assessing their wildlife value orientations (Teel and Manfredo, 2010), their connection to nature (Manoli et al., 2007), and their satisfaction with the video content. Findings can help to inform new directions in using virtual tools to enhance learning about environmental science through the lens of consumptive wildlife and wildland-related recreation.

Manoli, C.C., Dunlap, B., & Dunlap, R. E. (2010). Assessing childrens’ environmental worldviews: Modifying and validating the New Ecological Paradigm scale for use with children. The Journal of Environmental Education, 38(4), 3-13.

ForestHer NC: Engaging Women in Woodland Stewardship
Kelly Douglass

According to the Women Owning Woodlands network and data published in the National Woodland Owners Survey, “the percentage of family forest ownerships where a woman is the primary decision maker doubled from 2006 to 2013. These women make decisions for 44 million acres of America’s family forest land.” In North Carolina, 65 percent of private forestland is jointly owned by women, yet statistics shows that women are significantly less likely to attend conventional landowner programs and participate in management activities.  Research shows women are starting to have a greater influence on private lands management; to address this trend, a group of natural resource professionals and woodland owners, most of whom were women, met in January 2019 to develop a strategy for engaging North Carolina women woodland owners in forest conservation.  That meeting resulted in the establishment of a new initiative, ForestHer NC, which seeks to provide scientifically-based forest stewardship information, connect women with each other and with professional resources in their communities, build a community of women landowners and natural resource professionals, and positively impact conservation on private woodlands. The program is specifically designed to appeal to women and engage them in conservation practices, with the ultimate goal of fostering a sense of community among participants, providing them with an opportunity to learn from others in a positive, encouraging environment, and ultimately helping them reach their conservation goals. Program accomplishments have been extraordinary and results from the initial phase of program development are being shared to help foster the establishment of similar programs in other areas.  ForestHer NC partnering organizations include Audubon North Carolina, National Wild Turkey Federation, NC Forest Service, NC State Extension Forestry, NC Tree Farm Program, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project, and USDA Wildlife Services North Carolina.

Required Field Experiences in Undergraduate Wildlife Programs: Student Motivations, Expectations, and Outcomes
Lara Pacifici, Audrey Vaughn

Experiential learning, defined as student-centered learning that actively involves students in the curriculum via hands-on experiences, is effective across many undergraduate disciplines. Required field experiences are a critical component to most undergraduate wildlife degrees. Although fisheries and wildlife programs continue to incorporate experiential learning requirements into their curricula, few data exist on the motivations, expectations, and outcomes associated with various experiential opportunities. This knowledge gap must be addressed in order to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the role that experiential learning plays in career preparation among wildlife students. Here, we investigate the factors motivating undergraduate students to participate in summer field courses, professional internships, and/or study abroad programs. We also elicit expectations and outcomes associated with such opportunities. Ultimately, we sought to understand the role that experiential learning played in career preparation for undergraduate students in fisheries and wildlife programs. Our objectives were to 1. Describe the different field experiences of students, 2. Explain the motivations of students in choosing different field experiences, 3. Explain student expectations of different field experiences, 4. Quantify the relative outcomes in skills, mentoring, and content knowledge from different field experiences. Initial analysis suggests that demographics and finances play a role in what experiences students choose. Reported outcomes exceed expectations but vary among the different types of field experiences. These findings suggest the wildlife programs might address funding issues and student perceptions of different experiences to foster equitable access to each type of field experience. Further, student advisement at upper levels should take into account the type of field experience so that field skills and soft skills not addressed in their chosen field experience are covered in other courses or experiences. 

Contributed Oral
Location: Virtual Date: November 4, 2021 Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm