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Abstract

This paper analyzes changes in angler behavior in response to state natural resource agency regulations designed to limit the spread of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia virus (VHSv) in the Great Lakes and connecting waterways. These regulations restrict the use of baitfish and vary in stringency over parts of the state and have varied over time. We use a linked participation model to identify the combined effect of the disease and associated regulations on angler site choice and trip frequency. Survey data was collected on Michigan anglers over a period of several years, including the years before and after the agency regulations were introduced. Results indicate that anglers significantly alter their behavior at the site choice and participation levels in response to a new disease and its regulations. We find that anglers were less likely to visit a site considered to be VHSv positive and subject to bait use restrictions and more likely to choose a site free of disease regulations. To our knowledge, this is the first such study to apply a multi-dimensional database to modeling wildlife disease regulations. We expect that natural resource policy makers will find these results useful in developing and maintaining the regulations necessary for the sustainable use of recreational fisheries.

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