Exploring the human dimension of Thunder Bay moose hunters with focus on choice behaviour and environmental preferences
Bottan, Brian J.
Master of Science
DisciplineForestry and the Forest Environment
SubjectMoose hunting Ontario Thunder Bay (Psychological aspects)
Human dimension of wildlife management
Tourism and moose hunting issues
MetadataShow full item record
This study examined hunters' attitudes, preferences, and support for a variety of hunting and resource management issues. The survey also included the first application of a discrete choice experiment (DCE) to hunters in Ontario, to explore how changes in environmental and social attributes influence hunter site selection. The data used in this study were obtained from a mail survey of 1000 randomly selected moose hunters residing within the District of Thunder Bay. Research objectives related directly or indirectly to Ontario's Living Legacy program (1999), Term and Condition 80 of the Reasons for Decision and Decision - Class Environmental Assessment by the Ministry of Natural Resources for Timber Management on Crown Lands In Ontario (Ontario Ministry of the Environment 1994), the Crown Forest Sustainability Act (1995), specific moose hunting regulations, and biological issues in moose management. Survey results indicated that respondents support all three modes of harvest registration proposed, especially registration by phone or by postcard. Most respondents support the Hunter Safety Apprenticeship Program, however, program objectives should be reviewed frequently in order to identify and address potential problems or shortcomings, if any, that might disrupt the program's true intentions. Moose hunters' concerns, and in some cases misconceptions, prove that so far forest managers have failed to educate moose hunters adequately about the use of herbicides in forest management. Respondents also reported little tolerance for improper hunter behaviour afield. Management-related issues such as insufficient conservation officers afield, the Selective Harvest System, and a variety of forestry-related impacts all impose some negative effect on one's hunting experience. Respondents overwhelmingly support the right to access and hunt all of Ontario's Crown Lands, whereas restrictions such as gating to prevent access into tourism areas were not supported. Respondents were evenly split on issues pertaining to road maintenance and restricting hunting on Crown Lands but not closing roads to the public. With regards to moose tag allocation and hunting opportunities, most respondents strongly believe that tourist outfitters 1) receive too many adult tags, 2) should only be allocated tags in WMU's where a surplus exists, and 3) should only provide moose hunting opportunities at remote (fly-in) destinations. The DCE yields negative utilities for increased distance from home to the hunting area, frequency of encounters with other hunters, height of tree regeneration and predominantly conifer regeneration cutovers. In contrast, increases in moose populations, the presence of lakes, and access, to a lesser extent, yield positive utilities. Study results provide a variety of data which are useful in investigating the tradeoffs of possible wildlife management initiatives (enforcement, access restrictions, hunting opportunities and regulation changes), forest-use decisions (timber harvests), and other policy objectives (Ontario's Living Legacy Land Use Planning Strategy) which would particularly affect recreational moose hunters.