Can wolves help prevent deer-vehicle collisions?
According to a new study by Assistant Professor of Economics Jennifer Raynor, areas with wolf populations are seeing a 24 percent decline of car vs. deer accidents due to the canines creating a “landscape of fear” in ways human deer hunters cannot.
Her study, titled “Wolves make roadways safer, generating large economic returns to predator conservation” was published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on June 1. Raynor and her co-PIs investigated the potentially positive presence of wolves in relationship to roadways by examining 22 years of data from Wisconsin.
The researchers determined that for the average county, the wolves’ effect on deer collisions yielded an economic benefit that is 63 times greater than the costs of verified wolf predation on livestock.
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Jennifer Raynor, assistant professor of economics, is the co-author of a study titled “Can native species compete with valuable exotics? Valuing ecological changes in the Lake Michigan recreational fishery,” published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research, 2020.
The Chinook salmon population in Lake Michigan is declining precipitously due to ecological changes, and the impact on recreational fishing value is unknown. In this study, Raynor estimates a conditional model to characterize how Wisconsin resident anglers react to changes in species-specific availability and catch rates.
“Using these results, we calculate the non-market value of access to the fishery that reflects current, historical, and potential future fishing conditions. We then predict whether native lake trout and walleye, which are more resilient to the changing conditions in the lake, can maintain the fishery’s value if non-native Chinook salmon collapses,” Raynor explained.
Results show that while large losses would occur absent other improvements, a portion of the fishery’s value could be maintained if substitute species, particularly walleye, improved in quality and were readily accessible.
This spring, Raynor is teaching ECON 210: Climate Change Economics and Policy and ECON 310: Environmental and Resource Economics.