Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats
RESEARCH ARTICLE

What are they hunting for? Investigating heterogeneity among sika deer (Cervus nippon) hunters

Geoffrey N. Kerr A C and Walt Abell B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Environmental Management, PO Box 85084, Lincoln University, Lincoln, 7647, New Zealand.

B Informatics and Enabling Technologies, Lincoln University, Lincoln, 7647, New Zealand.

C Corresponding author. Email: geoffrey.kerr@lincoln.ac.nz

Wildlife Research 43(1) 69-79 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR15117
Submitted: 16 June 2015  Accepted: 29 December 2015   Published: 30 March 2016

Abstract

Context: New Zealand’s Game Animal Council has the opportunity to manage game animals. However, effective management requires understanding of the benefits to hunters of hunting-game resources and how those benefits and behaviours change in response to changes in hunt attributes, including game-animal densities, hunt duration, presence of other hunters and travel distance.

Aims: To identify different typologies of recreational sika deer (Cervus nippon) hunters and to measure the importance of salient hunt attributes for the different groups, to identify opportunities for enhancing recreational hunting experiences.

Methods: We explored hunter differences through factor analysis and cluster analysis, identifying three different groups of hunters on the basis of motivations and frequency of hunting. Preferences for hunt attributes were explored with a choice experiment that used a pivot design around actual travel distances to measure the relative importance of hunt-related attributes. Latent class analysis of choice-experiment responses identified three discrete groups of hunters who sought different activity settings.

Key Results: Results showed the high value of recreational hunting, and identified significant heterogeneity in hunter preference. Membership of the different clusters identified in the cluster analysis and motivations for hunting were not significant predictors of activity-setting preferences, whereas frequency of hunting was. One group of locals took short-duration hunts that were of low personal benefit. The other groups preferred longer hunts and received high personal benefits. Trophy potential was a significant determinant of the choice of hunt location.

Conclusions: Changes in hunt attributes, such as deer density, trophy potential and presence of other hunters have significant effects on hunt benefits and site choice.

Implications: Sika deer hunting is currently open access, which diminishes hunter benefits because of goal interference both within and among different groups of hunters. The present study identified potential gains from active management of sika deer and sika deer hunters.

Additional keywords: choice experiment, latent class analysis, recreation.


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