Fri, July 19, 2024

Simon Says: There’s an economic benefit to wildlife management

My son graduates from the University of Georgia (UGA) with a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Sciences on Friday. He has done some pretty cool stuff in his degree including collaring lions in Namibia and rocket-netting ducks in Louisiana. Next year, he starts work at the Savannah River Ecology Lab on the Savannah River Site.

Wildlife management can be viewed from an economic perspective. For example, there are benefits and costs associated with game animals. Hunters enjoy the outdoors and the meat it provides. Studies of the benefit of hunting deer suggest it is around $7 to $267 per day per hunter.

Deer also has costs. Farmers, for example, lose crops to marauding deer or use expensive mitigation techniques to protect their livelihood. A survey from the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at UGA found that the total damage to 221 farms totaled $3 million in 2016 or about $13,500 per farm. Farmers reported avoiding planting particular crops because of anticipated deer damage, with soybeans the most avoided. Even if you are a vegetarian or vegan, deer increases the price of the food you eat.

Deer also cause vehicle collisions creating repair costs for cars as well as injury (and sometimes death) costs for drivers and passengers. The same Warnell publication reported 52,000 deer-vehicle collisions in Georgia in 2015 at an average cost of $4,000 per collision.

In Georgia, last hunting season (2022-23), over 270,000 deer were harvested. In the local counties (Burke, Columbia, Lincoln, McDuffie, and Richmond) over 10,000 deer are harvested per hunting season, although the number has been declining over the last five years. Although nationally, there has been a decline in hunting licenses issued, in Georgia the number has risen to over three-quarters of a million in 2023, up 100,000 from five years ago. Only Texas and Pennsylvania have more total hunting licenses.

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