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The economic value of moose in Norway--a review.

ABSTRACT: In Norway, the landowners' income from forestry and farming has decreased, mainly due to changes in international trade and trade conventions, and they are looking for new sources of income. In Norway, as opposed to Canada and USA, the landowner holds the right to hunt on their own land, and the meat from the hunt is sold on the free market. Still, a large, but unknown portion of the hunting permits are used in a closed market of landowners, their friends and local people wherein the only economic value of hunting is free or cheap meat to hunter and landowner. With increasing moose populations and increasing potential income for the landowner, more hunting permits are sold on the open market, where the hunters pay for the meat and/or the hunting experience. The main economic costs are moose browsing on pine plantations and moose-vehicle collisions. Crop damage is an additional small cost. The socioeconomic estimates of benefits and costs vary considerably depending on the methods used. The two main estimation problems are the closed hunting market and damage to plantations, which first show economical losses after about 100 years. The estimates of total annual revenue range from US $70 to 90 M and the costs from US $23 to 80 M. When setting the economic carrying capacity for moose, the increased costs of forest damage and traffic accidents, and mitigating countermeasures, should be compared to the increase in income associated with one more moose added to the population. In Norway, the regional management units set regional goals, whereas the duty of national wildlife authorities is to ensure that national and international goals are met. To succeed in managing the moose population to an optimal economic carrying capacity, a broad cooperation between interest groups and detailed spatial economic and ecological knowledge will be needed. We predict that increased economic revenue will become an important objective for many moose regions.

Keywords: Alces alces, forest damage, mitigating countermeasures, moose economy, moose-vehicle collisions, Norway, revenues from hunting


The value of a species may be measured on different scales in different units. Kellert (1996) categorized the value of wildlife into the utilitarian, naturalistic, ecological-scientific, aesthetic, symbolic, dominionistic, humanistic, moralistic, and negativistic scales. Because of the different scales of measurement it may be difficult to give one unified value for moose (Alces alces). In conservation biology, ecological values may get high scores, whereas in local and regional planning those values are often ignored in favor of socioeconomic considerations. Here we review studies of the economic benefits and costs of moose for different groups of interest, with special emphasis on Norwegian conditions. For many participants in the process of moose management, however, values on other scales play a more important role. For instance, in Norway, moose have a strong cultural position (see Brottveit and Aagedal 1999) as demonstrated when the Norwegians nominated the moose as their national animal. We do not appraise these more abstract values of the moose, e.g., cultural, emotional, and recreational.


The main income derived from the moose population in Norway results from harvest. The right to hunt moose is held by the landowners, who harvest moose on their own properties according to plans approved by locally elected boards and supervised by regional wildlife officers. The board decides how much area underlies each hunting license and which categories of age and sex should be shot. The number, age, and sex structures of harvested moose are chosen to steer the moose population towards the goals set by the management plans. The hunting season is usually 4 weeks in fall, when moose still occupy their summer ranges, which in most regions are mainly highland habitats. When snow accumulates, moose migrate toward common wintering grounds usually in the lowland (Cederlund et al. 1987, Gundersen et al. 1998). It is primarily on the winter ranges where moose become an expense due to heavy browsing of young pine (Pinus sylvestris) plantations (Lavsund 1987) and moose-vehicle accidents (Andersen et al. 1991, Gundersen et al. 1998).

During moose migration between summer and winter ranges, landowners are affected differently, causing conflicts connected to moose management. While some landowners benefit from hunting grounds during fall, others experience the disadvantages of damaged pine plantations during winter (Saether et al. 1992). Furthermore, the values and traditions associated with the moose populations differ among regions (Rysstad and Gasdal 1999). In some regions the moose is traditionally looked upon as a common good for both the landowners and the hunters (Brottveit 1999), while in other regions (e.g. Sweden and Finland), the landowning companies often see the moose as a recreational benefit for the local community and not as an economical resource (Anonymous 1999, 2000). Obviously, there are conflicting interests between hunting landowners, non-hunting landowners, and hunters resulting in contrasting goals for the management of the moose population.

Due to the conflicting interests and varying economic effects of different moose management strategies, private investments have been scarce in Fennoscandian moose management. There are, however, several studies attempting to study the utilization of forested landscapes and its' economic value (Myrberget 1987, Vistad 1988, Saether et al. 1992, Gasdal and Rysstad 1999), and several more are initiated, but not published. Briefly summarized, these studies encompass different management and harvesting strategies for game animals, especially moose, both at the landowner and community level. Moreover, private and socioeconomic principles of multipurpose usage and co-production of moose and wood also are discussed. Other studies focus on the impacts of moose browsing (Haveraaen and Hjeljord 1981, Myrberget 1987, Solbraa 1991, Doenier et al. 1997), enhancement of moose browse (Solbraa 1991, Moen 1998, Hesjadalen and Storaas 1999), the economic value of moose hunting (Jakt och viltvardsberetningen 1981; Berganutvalget 1982; Sodal 1985, 1989; Mattsson and Kristrom 1987; Vistad 1988; Mattsson 1989; Solbraa 1991; Bjerke 1993; Direktoratet for Naturforvaltning 1995; Eggan and Inderberg 1997; Koller 1997), optimal management and harvesting strategies for the moose population (Sylven 1995, Eggan and Inderberg 1997, Sylven et al. 1997), economic analysis of traffic accidents (Sodal 1985; Jaren et al. 1991; Lavsund and Sandegren 1991; Ulleberg and Jaren 1991; Stokkereit 1992; Lindgaard 1994; Messelt 1994; Kastdalen 1996a, b; Mysen 1996; Stikbakke and Gaasemyr 1997; Wahlstom 1998), and the significance of ecotourism in game management (Wolfe 1987, Boyce 1989, Taylor and Dunstone 1996, Eggan and Inderberg 1997). Absent from these studies, however, are the economic flows connected to the moose resource, and the incomes and expenditures for a landowner who invests in the commercial moose industry.


Below we discuss the economic flows connected to the moose resource, including the economic benefits and costs for various actors in the moose economic arena. Values are given in US$, converted to contemporary (2000) market prices (Statistics Norway 2001). Finally, we discuss the knowledge needed to establish the potential income for landowners interested in investing in a moose industry.

The main actor in the economic flow is the landowner (Fig. 1). As the landowner holds the hunting licenses connected to his property, he can either be a hunter himself or rent his land to hunting tourism. Hence, moose constitute at least 3 different potential sources of income for the landowner: he may (1) sell hunting adventures; (2) obtain moose meat; and (3) profit from non-consumptive tourism such as "moose safari".


The landowner is not the only person that profits from moose hunting. There also will be some secondary income for the general local society similar to landowners who sell fishing licenses (Navrud 1987). Assuming the landowner sells the hunting adventure and moose meat to hunting tourism, the hunter may sell the meat to a local butcher. The butcher in turn will profit from selling prepared moose meat to the consumers. Other components of the local society that profit from hunting tourism include: veterinary services obligated to check the moose meat, local tourist companies offering overnight accommodations, and local groceries.

Even though the landowner acquires most of the profit associated with hunting tourism, he will have to pay tax and fees to the local and national government. The taxation of the landowner's hunting license depends on whether he uses the right himself or if he rents it to another party. If he makes use of the hunting right himself, the tax will be very low, whereas if he rents it to another party the tax will be similar to an ordinary enterprise (Storaas and Punsvik 1996). In addition, the landowner may have to pay some fees to the landowner organizations, which are used to manage the moose population. In some areas this includes steering moose away from highways or buying ensilage from farmers to reduce damage on young pine plantations (Gundersen, unpublished data).

The landowner also may offer wildlife viewing. According to Norwegian law, however, the public has trespassing rights on federal areas and private lands, as long as it is outside cultivated fields. People that do not possess property may thus run organized wildlife viewing and outfitting companies. In Norway, there are but a few moose viewing enterprises. They are small and unstable, however, and their income has been low (Mysterud and Mysterud 1995). Nonetheless, the moose population provides potential for the landowner or other local companies to profit from wildlife viewing. This non-consumptive moose tourism will provide some of the same benefits to the local society as hunting tourism.

Obviously, moose also incur some economic costs, which may be divided into 3 main categories: (1) moose-vehicle accidents; (2) browse damage on commercial timber plantations; and (3) browse damage on agricultural crops. A central question regarding moose management is who shall pay the bills of the economic loss due to traffic accidents and browse damage. In all Fennoscandia, the individual motorists and their insurance companies must bear the costs of vehicle damage when moose are involved in traffic accidents, while society pays the hospital bills. The governments pay for compensation of damage done by moose on cultivated crops, whereas in Finland the government also pays the costs of pine browsing (Lavsund 1987, Poteri 1996).


In the appendices we present some values of the benefits and costs of a high-density population according to various Norwegian studies. The main revenue comes from hunt and meat profits, but it is difficult to distinguish between the two values. The meat value depends, among other factors, on quantity available and the quality of the meat (Sodal 1985) and has been reported to differ between $4 and $9 per kg (Sodal 1985, Mattsson and Kristrom 1987, Vistad 1988, Solbraa 1991, Bjerke 1993, Eggan and Inderberg 1997). Saether et al. (1992) argued from general economic theory and surveys, that the economic value of an individual moose would decrease as the moose population increased. Due to a changed harvest policy, the total weight of the Norwegian moose harvest has increased from 340 metric tons in 1981 (Berganutvalget 1982) to 4,815 metric tons in 1998 (I. Stensaas, personal communication, 1999). In spite of this, the economic value per moose has increased. This is probably because the moose market has become more open, and because the demand for moose hunting has been much higher than the allocated supply. Today, the meat has a potential value in Norway well above $42 million (M). In addition, the hide could potentially be utilized as an industry product, although it is not currently used in Norway, mainly because the hunters find the price too low. The price of one hide lies between $17 and $32 (Sodal 1985), and with up to 40,000 moose shot annually in Norway, the hides could have a potential value of $680,000 to $1.3 M.

The economic costs of moose are more difficult to estimate, as there are several factors involved. Some costs may even provide a secondary income for the local society, such as vehicle accidents which offer income for local service stations (but see Appendix 2 for some estimated costs). For the landowner the main cost is browsing damage, which Solbraa (1998) estimated to be between $2.6-5.3 M in Norway. However, the main problem with such estimates is that the damage of a young pine will have long-term economic consequences of up to 100 years, which is the rotation age for pine stands. Hence, after 80 years, Solbraa (1998) estimated the loss due to browsing in Norway to be between $20-40 M. In spite of the browse damage, Hanninen (1994) suggested that the moose population actually may have a positive influence on forestry, and that one animal was able to provide forest cultivation worth $400 a year in Finland. However, the degree of cultivation is probably highly dependent on moose density. Haagenrud (1995) also estimated the costs of the work and equipment moose hunters put into their hunt at $140 M a year. It is, however, difficult to consider this as a cost, since this is a highly valued leisure activity which may actually result in secondary income for society. From the estimates given in the appendices we have estimated that the total annual revenue of moose may range from $70 to 90 M and the costs from $23 to 80 M.


Most estimates show that the economic benefits from moose are considerably larger than the economic costs. Those benefits and costs, however, come to different groups of people. It is difficult to maintain high moose populations when motorists and owners of moose winter ranges have high and increasing losses. Further increases in moose populations will require mitigating efforts, and formula that divides the costs among the different landowners. Today we do not know which management approaches will work best nor the cost of implementing them. We also have little spatial economic knowledge of how these costs should be divided.

Whether or not high density moose populations are an additional source of income in rural areas today will depend on landowners choice to invest in moose. Today most landowners bear none of the costs associated with moose, while society and the owners of pine plantations in the wintering areas have considerable costs. If moose populations increase further, wildlife authorities will probably demand that numbers be reduced (Direktoratet for Naturforvaltning 1995). Conversely, if regional authorities invest in mitigating efforts that reduce traffic accidents and damage on pine plantations, and ensure viable moose populations and maintenance of biotic diversity, the regions likely would be allowed to increase moose populations. The costs to the individual landowner will be the payment to a landowner-based wildlife management unit, that plans and implements mitigation efforts. When setting the economic carrying capacity for moose, however, increased costs of forest damage, traffic accidents, and mitigating efforts should be compared to the increase in income that results when one more moose is added to the population. In Norway, the regional management units set the regional goals, whereas the duty of national wildlife authorities is to see that violation of national and international goals does not occur. To succeed in managing the moose population to an optimal economical carrying capacity, broad cooperation between interest groups and detailed spatial-economical and ecological knowledge will be needed. We predict that increased economic revenue will become an important objective for many moose regions.
Appendix 1. Income from hunting, tourism, and moose browsing
in Norway, all based on US$ (2000).

Category Sub-category Income ($) Source

Hunt Potential sales 42 million Berganutvalget 1982
 values for meat
 and hide

 The value of 172-257 million Muus Falck &
 hunt in Norway Mysterud 1988

 Meat value 4-9 per kg Sodal 1985,
 Vistad 1988,
 Solbraa 1991,
 Bjerke 1993,
 Eggan &
 Inderberg 1997

 Hunting fee 30-52 per Ingebrigt Stensaas
 animal pers.comm. 1999

 Hunting ground 2-15 per ha Norges
 rental skogeierforbund

 Meat value - 83 million Norges
 game and fish skogeierforbund

 Meat and rental 100 million Norges
 value -- game skogeierforbund
 and fish pers.comm.

 Hunting value 27-2,250 Eggan &
 (bulls) per bull Inderberg 1997

 Hunting value 27-135 per cow Eggan &
 (cows) Inderberg 1997

 Gross value 690 per Saether et
 harvested al. 1992

Moose Reduced forest 1.15 per ha Solbraa et al. 1986,
browsing cultivation Statistics
 Norway 1989

 Performed 400 per moose Hanninen 1994
 forest in Finland
Appendix 2. Cost from browse damage, cultivated fields, and traffic
accidents and their mitigating countermeasures in Norway, all based
on US$ (2000).

Category Sub-category Income ($) Source

Forest Loss per 66-132 per Solbraa 1998
damage harvested moose harvested moose

 Loss in present 2.6-5.3 million Solbraa 1998
 value in Norway per year

 Loss after 80 20-40 million Solbraa 1998
 years per year

 Loss in 27 per ha Hamar 1997
 reduction in
 waiting value

 Loss in waiting 2 million during Hamar 1997
 value 15 years

Damage on Yearly 64,500-165,000 Statistics
cultivated compensation Norway 1999
 Costs per farm 700 Myrberget 1987


 Moose feeding 54-135 per moose Lund 1997

 0.3 per kg moose Lavsund 1987

 137 per moose Lavsund 1987
 per winter

Traffic accidents

 Railways 3,140 per Jaren et
 accident al. 1991

 Roads 8,390 average Messelt 1994

 22,420-29,060 Kastdalen 1996a
 per accident

 11,460-18,200 Stikbakke and
 per accident Gaasemyr 1997

 29,130 per Messelt 1994

 25,880 per Kastdalen 1996b

 14,510 per Wahlstrom 1998

 Roads, yearly 15-23 million, Stikbakke and
 average whole society Gaasemyr 1997,
 660-1100 per ha Stokkereit 1992,
 Norway 1989

 28-42 million, Kastdalen 1996a
 whole society

 5,640 per km Mysen 1996

 Compensations, 5.3 million Tore Vaaje,
 whole country Gjensidige
 pers.comm. 1999

 3.3 million Bjorn A.
 Company, pers.
 comm. 1999

 40 million, total UNI-Storebrand

 Compensations, 0.8 million Tore Vaaje,
 Hedmark mun. Gjensidige
 1999, Statistics
 Norway 1989

 180 per ha Bjorn A.
 Company, pers.
 comm. 1999,
 Norway 1989

 Total costs on 182,750-243,650 Lorentsen et al.
 damage to cars per year 1991
 in Nord-
 Trondelag mun.


 Yearly socio 1.2 million Elvik 1993
 economic costs
 against all
 types of

 Forest clearing 6,230 per km Wiseth and
 Pedersen 1989

 Game fence 32,780-136,590 Amundsen 1996,
 per km Stikbakke and
 Gaasemyr 1997,
 Mysen 1996

 Illiuminated 6,740-13,480 Stikbakke and
 openings Gaasemyr 1997

 Illuminated 62,270 per km Amundsen 1996

 Fauna passage 136,600-819,500 Stikbakke and
 Gaasemyr 1997,
 Mysen 1996,
 Kastdalen 1996b

 Visibility 2,700-8,610 Amundsen 1996,
 clearing per km Stikbakke and
 Gaasemyr 1997,
 Messelt 1994

 Scent signals 410-1,080 per km Stikbakke and
 Gaasemyr 1997

 Illuminated 13,480 per km Stikbakke and
 signposts Gaasemyr 1997

 Signposts 1,640-5,460 Amundsen 1996,
 per km Stikbakke and
 Gaasemyr 1997

 Variable 1,380 Amundsen 1996

 Game reflector 540-1,080 Stikbakke and
 Gaasemyr 1997


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Torstein Storaas (1), Hege Gundersen (1), Hege Henriksen (1), and Harry P. Andreassen (2)

(1) Hedmark College, Evenstad, N-2480 Koppang, Norway; (2) Department of Biology, Division of Zoology, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1050 Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway
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Author:Storaas, Torstein; Gundersen, Hege; Henriksen, Hege; Andreassen, Harry P.
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:4EXNO
Date:Jan 1, 2001
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