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Estimating the Economic Value of Lethal VersusNonlethal Deer Control in Suburban Communities

Bowker, J.M., Newman, David H., Warren, Robert J., Henderson, David W.
Society & natural resources 2003 v.16 no.2 pp. 143-158
Cicadellidae, contingent valuation, control methods, deer, people, surveys, wildlife, willingness to pay, South Carolina
Negative people/wildlife interaction has raised public interest in wildlife population control. We present a contingent valuation study of alternative deer control measures considered for Hilton Head Island, SC. Lethal control using sharpshooters and nonlethal immuno-contraception techniques are evaluated. A mail-back survey was used to collect resident willingness-to-pay (WTP) information for reduced deer densities and consequent property damage. Residents are unwilling to spend more for the nonlethal alternative. The estimated WTP appears theoretically consistent as increasing levels of abatement for both lethal and nonlethal alternatives demonstrate diminishing marginal benefits. Over 60% of respondents bid zero regardless of control measure, suggesting a referendum would fail. However, only half of these zero bidders expressed no problem with deer, while the other half bid zero because of distaste for the control alternative, safety concerns, or doubt about effectiveness. Inclusion of these responses as legitimate zero bids depressed mean WTP estimates from 22 to 31%.