What are Hunters Willing to Pay for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Management? A Comparison of Different Contingent Valuation Approaches

Wildlife management agencies in regions where chronic wasting disease (CWD) is prevalent have adopted costly management practices to mitigate the spread of this fatal and highly transmissible disease. Non-market valuation represents a critical tool for managers attempting to address these costs, but the mode and methods of contingent valuation (CV) questions can impact valuations due to biases inherent to self-reporting economic decisions. We administered online (n = 1430) and phone (n = 602) surveys in North Carolina and South Carolina to assess what hunters with licenses to hunt white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were willing to pay for CWD testing and carcass disposal across survey modes and CV methods. Among the online survey respondents, 34.1% (n = 488) were willing to pay for testing and 43.4% (n = 620) were willing to pay for disposal. From our phone sample, 48.6% (n = 293) were willing to pay for testing and 50.7% (n = 306) for disposal. Survey mode affected mean willingness to pay (WTP) in open-ended questions, with lower estimates from the online survey (M = US$15.96 for testing; $14.74 for disposal) than for the phone survey (M = $22.90 for testing; $22.80 for disposal). Different CV methods, however, yielded minor differences in WTP estimates reported on our phone survey (dichotomous choice: M = $24.80 for testing; $24.50 for disposal). Greater WTP estimates in phone surveys, relative to online, may be explained by interviewer effects. The fact that cost-efficient, open-ended WTP methods produced average WTP values nearly identical to those generated by the more complex and costly dichotomous choice methods is encouraging, but greater variance for open-ended methods remains an important limitation. Our research provides some justification for using relatively easy open-ended CV methods of assessing WTP for wildlife disease management and underscores the need to account for survey mode when collecting and interpreting data about WTP.


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