Wildlife Habitat and Economic Institutions: Feast or Famine for Hunters and Game

"In Montana, few issues generate higher emotions than wildlife and hunting issues. The right of free access to game is often assumed to be a God-given, natural right. Unfortunately, the reality check of population pressures is challenging these conceptions. We recognize that many of the alternatives explored in this paper are highly controversial, but we also believe that clear and dispassionate analysis is preferable to frustration punctuated by pounding on bar tables. "Montana is indeed a treasure state, but its primary treasures are not restricted to commodities. Its aesthetic and environmental qualities are of immense value and are increasing in worth. Given that wildlife is a superior good--that is, that demand increases disproportionately with income--and that recreation tends to be non-taxed, we can reasonably expect our wildlife resources to come under increasing pressure. "The key to meeting increased demand lies with improved management. The question is what set of institutions will generate incentives for managers to use their land to produce wildlife alongside timber, livestock, and other agricultural products. A system of property rights and private management provides the most efficient, ecologically sensitive, and equitable scheme yet designed. It is this approach that we will explore in this paper."
property rights, wildlife, resource management, environment