Elk and Tourism

Project Lead

  • Thomas Treiman
  • Sandra Ipock

Project Researchers

  • Michele Baumer
Elk at Peck Ranch CA

Project Summary

MDC’s key message that “Conservation pays by enriching our economy and quality of life” implies that MDC needs to be accountable to Missourians by evaluating and publicizing those benefits. Successful management of Missouri’s natural resources involves a partnership with citizens, organizations, and agencies. During the decision making process on the elk restoration plan one idea communicated to the public was the potential for economic benefits from the restoration of elk. Using onsite visitor surveys, we estimated the number of people visiting specifically to view elk and both the economic impact of these visits to local communities and the economic value that elk provided to the visitors.

Fri, 01/01/2016

Sat, 12/31/2016

Project Updates

Elk-related tourism: Over $1 million in economic activity!

MDC's two elk tour loops yielded a nearly $1.3 million dollar economic impact on the local area (counting only spending by non-local visitors), supporting about 13 full-time jobs. This estimate includes both the direct, indirect and induced impacts associated with visitor spending. The economic value of the elk viewing experience to visitors (the consumer surplus), as measured by willingness-to-pay analyses, was over $14 at each area.

Project Datasets

No datasets have been added to this project.

Project Papers & Presentations

Did You See the Elk? Visitor Survey Results From MDC’s Elk Tour Loops

Information gathered in this study provides MDC decision makers, O&E “marketers”, area staff as well as local political and business leaders with baseline estimates of how many people are going to see (or try to see) elk at MDC’s Elk Tour Loops. It helps us understand what this new tourism is doing for the local economy, and for the visitors themselves. Local governments can use the information to encourage further investments in tourism infrastructure and in designing marketing campaigns. Follow-up studies can then gauge the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Did You See the Elk? Results from On-Site Visitor Surveys at the Missouri Department of Conservation's Elk Tour Loops

Poster presented at the 2017 Missouri Natural Resource Conference at the Lake of the Ozarks, featuring results from the visitor survey at MDC's elk tour loops.Over 11,000 visitors toured each of the areas in 2016, with PR visitors coming farther distances than CR’s. More PR visitors came specifically to see elk (and saw them) than did CR’s but both groups of visitors were overwhelmingly satisfied with their visits.


Human Dimensions, Mammals, Natural Resource Economics, Wildlife Research


Public Use Surveys, Visitor survey, Regional Economics