a description of moose and cost-benefit analysis of moose conservation

Moose/Eurasian elk [Alces alces] are the largest of all the deer species. They can be found in the temperate and subarctic regions of Europe, North America and Asia in boreal and mixed deciduous forests. The males of the species are well-known for their massive antlers that can spread 1.8 meters from end to end. The adults average between 160 and 210cm in height with weights reaching 820kg. Their faces are long with muzzles that hang over the chin. There is also a flap of skin that swings beneath each moose’s throat that is known as the bell.

Despite their enormous size, moose are agile swimmers. During the spring, summer and fall they are often seen in marshes, lakes, wetlands and rivers. They are able to paddle several miles at a time and fully submerge themselves for more than 30 seconds. Their large hooves also act like snowshoes to support their massive bodies in snow and mud. Furthermore, they are quite agile and can run at speeds of up to 56 kilometers per hour and trot steadily at 32 kilometers per hour.

Moose are herbivores that have a preference for consuming higher grasses and shrubs because of their large stature which results in difficulty lowering their heads to the ground. Their winter diet is heavily dependent on shrubs and pinecones, although they also consume mosses and lichens. When food stuff is more widely available during the warmer parts of the year, moose consume a variety of aquatic plants both at and below the water’s surface (4). On average, adults animals consume approximately 30kg of browse daily, although their stomachs have the capacity to hold over 50 kg of food.

The animals mate in September and October. The bulls (males) which are typically solitary in nature, congregate in large groups, bellow loudly to impress the females and establish supremacy by partaking in battles. After mating, the females and males separate until the following year. The gestation period is 243 days. The females typically birth one or two calves that weigh approximately 14kg. The calves are able to run faster than an adult human by the time they are five days old. The young stay with the mothers until the following mating season. Their average life span for bulls in the wild is 7 years, but some animals live until approximately 20 years of age.

Unfortunately, there have been decreases in moose populations throughout the world and the cause is unknown.  The question then becomes, what does the conservation of these four-legged creatures cost and are those costs worth it?

MOOSE; EURASIAN ELK [Alces alces]

 

Costs

Category

Item

Quantity

Price

Total

Construction
Fencing for underpasses and jump outs As needed [1]  

600,000

 

25 and 50-year fence replacement As needed2  

750,000

 

Human Injury
  Bodily Damage – Car Accidents  

300

 

6,500 – 2,000,000

 

1,950,000 – 60,000,000

Maintenance
  Forest Damage 250,000 $66 – 132

per head of moose

16,500,000 – 33,000,000
Property Damage – Auto Accidents  

800

 

5,000

 

3,500,000

Farm Damage 250 10,000 250,000
Fence Repair and Upkeep As Needed2  

1,500

 

Counter Measures
Moose Feed 2,500 137 205,500
TOTAL 21,970,550 – 42,955,500
Benefits: consumptive
Hunting
  Retail Sale of Meat 6,250 16/kilo * 250 kg 25,000,000
Subsistence Food Value 5,500 2,200 12,100,000
Meat Salvage 216,000 8/kilo 1,296,000
Hunting Permits 415 10,000 4,150,000
By-Products 50,000 4/kilo 200,000
Benefits: non-consumptive
  Tourism Trips 35,000 300 10,500,000
Hunting Tourism 25,000 450 11,250,000
Luxury Hunting Trips 100 10,000 100,000
TOTAL

                                                                                               154,946,000

 

Final Values:

Benefits                                                                154,946,000

Costs                                           42,955,500 /   21,970,550


Difference                              111,990,500 / 132,975,450

 

Conclusion:

The benefits of moose are economically valued at between 2.7 and 7 times that of their imposed costs. Therefore, a continuation of thoughtful hunting practices and encouragement of nature tourism is encouraged. Furthermore, due to recent population decreases it is advisable that efforts to protect this resource are made. It is suggestible that some of the profits from hunting licenses and local tourism be invested in conservation and public education endeavors.

Notes:

  • In many locations, moose populations have decreased without explanation, although it has been suggested that predation, higher temperatures, and disease are the cause. As a result, many states are reducing the number of permits awarded, electing to switch to a lottery system for permits, or eliminating moose season completely.
  • The price for hunting tags is an average taken from the figures provided by Alaska’s, Maine’s, and New Hampshire’s Department of Fish and Game website.
  • Values provided for meat are based on the average of 550 pounds of useable flesh harvested per animal.
  • Luxury wildlife hunting expenditure estimates are based on all-inclusive hunting packages offered by trained professionals in Alaska.
  • Costs for bridge building, repair, maintenance, property and bodily injury are based on estimates in for costs in Canada, Norway, and Alaska.

[1,2] Costs not included in the final totals.

Additional reading:

Moose Die-Off Alarms Scientists

Researchers track New Hampshire moose in hopes of pinpointing cause of population decline

States Initiating Research on Moose Declines; Minnesota Halts Hunt


sources:

Conservation, N. Y. (2006). Moose Facts. Retrieved from
http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/moose1.pdf
Game, A. D. (n.d.). License Prices. Retrieved from Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Retrieved from
http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=huntlicense.prices
Game, N. H. (2011-2014). Moose Hunting in NH. Retrieved from New Hampshire Fish and Game. Retrieved from  http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Hunting/Hunt_species/hunt_moose.htm#fees
Geographic, N. (n.d.). Moose. Retrieved from National Geographic
http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/moose/
Huijser, M. P., Duffield, J. W., Clevenger, A. P., Ament, R. J., & McGowen, P. T. (2009). Cost–Benefit Analyses of Mitigation Measures Aimed at Reducing Collisions with Large Ungulates in the United States and Canada: a Decision Support Tool. Ecology and Society. Retrieved from
http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol14/iss2/art15/
Inc., N. E. (2006). The Value of Alaska Moose.
Retrieved from http://www.aswcd.org/ValueofMoose.pdf
Restoration Through Recreation, L. (n.d.). Alaskan Adventures Fishing, Hunting Trips, Videos, Alaska Speaker. Retrieved from
http://www.alaskan-adventures.com/alaska_hunting.htm
Storaas, T., Gundersen, H., Henriksen, H., & Andreassen, H. P. (2001, January 1). The economic value of moose in Norway–a review. Alces. Retrieved from
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/The+economic+value+of+moose+in+Norway–a+review.-a092803197
Wildlife, D. o. (2013). Moose Hunting. Retrieved from
http://www.state.me.us/IFW/licenses_permits/lotteries/moose/index.htm