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The Optimal Timing of Reintroducing Captive Populations Into the Wild

Richard Melstrom (), Kehinde Rilwan Salau and David W. Shanafelt

Ecological Economics, 2019, vol. 156, issue C, 174-184

Abstract: We examine a conservation problem in which the recovery of an endangered species depends on a captive breeding and reintroduction program. The model is applied to the case of the black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes), an endangered species in North America reliant on captive breeding for survival. The timing of reintroduction is an important concern in these programs as there is a tradeoff between the duration (and therefore the cost) of the captive breeding program and the period the population spends in recovery and in the wild. In this paper, we develop a stylized bioeconomic model to determine the optimal reintroduction time, in which the objective is to minimize the cost of reintroduction while providing a viably-sized population in the wild. Our control variable is the timing of reintroduction, which departs from a large body of work in bioeconomics that focuses on adjustable controls that directly affect the target population. Generally, we find it is optimal to reintroduce ferrets early in a reintroduction program, although this result is contingent on species interactions and provisioning services.

Keywords: Bioeconomics; Captive breeding; Endangered species; Wildlife conservation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:156:y:2019:i:c:p:174-184