About
Maps
Walker Research Phase I: 2007-2009
Research Phase II: 2010-2012

Research Products

Mike Collopy
University of Nevada, Reno
mcollopy@unr.edu | (775) 784-8262

Jim Thomas
DRI
jthomas@dri.edu | (775) 673-7305

Walker Basin Project

Wild Horse and Burro Marketing

The project will determine which characteristics of wild horses and burros increase adoption rates. It will also investigate alternative auction procedures which could increase adoption rates and simultaneously increase revenues to support wild horse and burro programs.

Researchers:

From UNR: Thomas R. Harris (Co-PI), Jeffrey E. Englin (Co-PI) and Michael Price (Co-PI), Department of Resource Economics

Updates:

2007 | 2008: January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November

January 2008:

We have received the necessary human subjects approval and have started recruiting participants for the experiments examining various formats for auctioning wild horses and burros.

We have consolidated the relevant literature on auction design and incorporated important features of these studies into our experimental protocol.

We are continuing to catalogue the laws, regulations and acts both at federal and state level regarding the maintenance, sale, and adoption of wild horses and burros. The process aims to reinforce the framework of the research context over the long term.

February 2008:

  • We have scheduled the first set of experiments on Saturday, March 15 and Sunday, March 16.
  • We have worked with the communications team for the Walker Lake project to develop a flyer to recruit participants for the planned experimental auctions.
  • We are continuing to catalog the laws, regulations and acts both at federal and state level regarding the maintenance, sale, and adoption of wild horses and burros. The process aims to reinforce the framework of the research context over the long term.
  • We have initiated contact with a number of wild horse and burro centers across the country to plan visits to meet with officials responsible for managing the wild horse and burro sales and collect data on prior auctions.

We have scheduled the first set of experiments and are looking for individuals age 21 or older to participate in these studies. A copy of the flyer providing a description of the goods that will be sold as part of the study and announcing the session dates and times can be downloaded from www.cabnr.unr.edu/price. People that are interested in learning more about the experimental auctions can contact Dr. Michael Price via e-mail at mprice@cabnr.unr.edu or by phone 775.784.1679.

March 2008:

We have run the first set of auction experiments and have scheduled additional sessions. We have initiated conversation with the founders of various wild horse and burro groups throughout the state to learn more about the BLM's adoption program.

April 2008:

No significant developments this month.

May 2008:

We are continuing to run the auction experiments and have commenced with data analysis. To date we have conducted 15 auctions with almost 70 individual participants. We have continued conversations with the founders of various wild horse and burro groups throughout the state to learn more about the BLM's adoption program and the factors that influence bidder behavior in the adoption program.

June 2008:

We have begun analysis of the data collected from the 15 experimental auctions completed to date. Based on this preliminary analysis, we have designed additional experiments to help us better understand the data patterns observed in the initial auctions.

Preliminary results were presented at the 2008 International Meetings of the Economic Science Association held June 27-29 on the Cal Tech campus in Pasadena, California. This Association is a society dedicated to the field of experimental economics and the annual meetings bring together leading scholars in the discipline to present and discuss their latest work.

July 2008:

Analysis of the data collected from the 15 experimental auctions completed to date has continued. Based on this preliminary analysis, additional experiments to help understand the data patterns observed in the initial auctions have been designed and recruitment for these has started.

August 2008:

There are no updates this month.

September 2008:

Activities in September focused on three elements of the study. First, after analyzing the initial auction results, treatments were devised that altered the information available to bidders in order to test hypotheses on the possible correlation of values across bidders, which should have differential impacts in the two auction types under study. Recruitment for and implementation of the new treatments began, and the data collection is expected to be completed by October 31, 2008.

Data on wild horse auctions conducted over the past ten years have been received from the BLM and a preliminary analysis has examined differences in bidding behavior in on-site and internet auctions. More elaborate models are being estimated to study the differences.

A model studying the feasibility of a wild horse visitor's center has been under development and estimates of startup costs and long-term profitably under a range of scenarios have been calculated. The precision of this model will be enhanced by the new data from the BLM.

A detailed project report that includes results from the experimental auction has been prepared and is undergoing final edits.

October 2008:

Additional auction sessions were conducted in October to test hypotheses on how bidders were forming their values for the available goods by altering the information available about the goods and the bidding process. Thirteen of the planned 25 additional sessions were held, and an additional five are scheduled for November 6.

All sessions were conducted on the University campus after recruitment for sessions in Hawthorne and Fallon proved unsuccessful. In Reno, members of the community were approached through a Chamber of Commerce emails and a calendar item, an advertisement in Northern Nevada Business Weekly, bulk emailing, personal contacts and by distributing flyers at numerous businesses, on doorsteps and on windshields. Flyers were also distributed to the physical mailboxes of faculty and staff on the University campus, which was by far the most effective, yielding more than 80% of the participants.

An initial analysis of the new auction results shows behavior largely consistent with those conducted in the spring semester. In aggregate, the RTC Auction seems to be raising the same or slightly less revenue than the standard sequential auction rather than increasing competition and revenue as predicted by theory.

After the November 6 sessions goods for seven additional sessions will remain. An analysis of the data during the week of November 10 will lead to a decision on the appropriate treatment for the remaining sessions, which will be conducted during the week of November 17. Alternatives under consideration include altering the pricing institution from second to first price, including an induced value bidding protocol and altering the information available to bidders on prices in each phase of the auction.

November 2008:

Project staff members are in contact with the BLM regional offices and have acquired existing auction data. We are also examining the bidding history of both Internet and on-site adoptions on a competitive bidding base.

Project members are identifying the color and type groups among the adopted horses using statistical tools to investigate the association between adopter's willingness to pay and horse characteristics.

We are in the process of refining the legislative reviews collected and relating the material to the forthcoming pilot experiments.