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Dynamic Discrete Choice Estimation of Lifetime Deer Hunting License Demand
The sales of deer licenses, one of the most important revenue sources for wildlife management at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), have been declining for a decade. To increase its funds, the agency is considering launching a new lifetime deer license, which would allow hunters to harvest deer (and possibly other species) each year for the rest of their lives in exchange for a large, up-front fee. The forward-looking nature of the decision to buy a lifetime license means hunters’ choice behavior is necessarily dynamic. We estimate a dynamic discrete choice model using data from a discrete choice experiment (DCE) to capture this forward-looking choice behavior and to estimate hunters’ preferences for different lifetime license designs. We find that our dynamic model better fits our data than a standard, static choice model. We also find that hunters prefer licenses that allow (i) harvest of antlered and antlerless deer to one that only allows harvest of antlerless deer and (ii) harvest of additional species beyond just deer. We use our model to estimate the price of lifetime licenses that maximizes IDNR revenues. This is the first study to estimate the value of lifetime deer hunting licenses using a dynamic approach. This dynamic approach can help improve the IDNR’s decision-making to maximize its revenue and stabilize wildlife management funds.