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Economics & Social Sciences Research Program

Public Preferences for Additional Protection for Cook Inlet Beluga Whales

The population of Cook Inlet beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) is one of five distinct population segments (DPS) in U.S. waters. This DSP was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 2008.

A survey project is being undertaken that will collect the information necessary to improve our understanding of the public benefits associated with the results of implementing additional protection actions for the Cook Inlet beluga whale, such as population increases or decreases in the risks of extinction. Information on these benefits are useful for decision makers to more fully understand the trade-offs involved in choosing among potential protection alternatives and to complement other information available about the costs, benefits, and impacts of protection alternatives.

The development stage of this project is complete. The survey materials were developed with feedback from scientists and analysts who study the species, and have been tested in focus groups and interviews. The materials are currently being reviewed by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget for use in a small pilot survey, which is expected to be implemented in early 2011.

By Dan Lew and Brian Garber-Yonts

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