Limited Entry Hunting – Questions and Answers
There is still some time before the May 28th 2021 deadline for British Columbia hunters to apply for Limited Entry Hunting opportunities.
I recently interviewed the biometrics staff within the Wildlife and Habitat Branch in the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development to learn more about how the Limited Entry Hunting (LEH) hunting system works and how to make sense of your chance of getting drawn.
Q: How are odds for each hunt generated?
- Odds are simply the number of applications divided by the number of available authorizations. E.g. if 20 hunters applied for a hunt and there are 10 available authorizations, odds for that hunt would be 20 / 10 = 2.0:1 (a 50/50 chance of winning).
- Because calculating hunt odds requires knowing the number of hunters who applied to a hunt, odds can’t be calculated until after the draw is closed for applications. This means the odds published in this year’s synopsis are calculated using applicant and available authorization numbers from last year’s fall draw. A hunter never really knows the odds for the hunt their applying for until after the draw is run. Although most hunt odds stay relatively stable over time, there are instances where the number of available authorizations change, or some external event (e.g., fires) causes the spatial distribution of hunters to change. Odds can change from year to year, depending on these factors.
Q: What do odds mean when applying for LEH?
- Hunt odds indicate the likelihood of winning. If a hunter applies exclusively to hunts that have six to one odds (6.0:1), they are likely to win once every six years. However, winning an LEH authorization can be likened to rolling a die, where a person could roll a six more than once in six tosses. The hunter may win more than once in six years or they may win less but, given enough time (enough draws), their average wins will be one in six years.
- We often hear from hunters that they know someone who wins an island elk each year (for example). Just like it is unlikely (but entirely possible) to toss a die and get three sixes in a row, it is very unlikely for the same hunter to win an island elk draw more than once (many of which have 70.0:1 odds). When we look at the frequency with which hunters win more than once, there is a direct relationship to the odds of the hunts they have applied for. Low odds hunts frequently see hunters winning multiple times whereas there are very few hunters who have won more than one high odds island elk draw. Again, it’s not impossible, it’s just very unlikely.
Q: How do you convert odds to probabilities?
- To convert odds to probability you simply divide the decimal odds (the part of the odds to the left of the colon) into 1. For example, a hunt with 2 to 1 odds (2.0:1): 1 / 2.0 = 0.5 or a 50% chance of winning.
Q: How can a hunter assess his/her chances of drawing when comparing different choices. i.e., 3.5:1 for 7 tags vs. A 4.5:1 for 15 tags.
- I answered this as part of the first question on how odds are calculated but this is a good example. First, remember that the odds which are presented in the synopsis are based on the number of applicants and available authorizations from the previous year. Any changes in the number of hunters applying to these two hunts, or the number of available authorizations will mean different odds this year. If we pretend that the number of applicants and authorizations is the same from last year to this year (hence the odds will be the same as above), the chances of winning are better with the lower odds hunt, regardless of how many authorizations are available (the odds take into account the number of available authorizations). There are examples of moose hunts with 30.0:1 for 5 authorizations and 4.0:1 for 20 authorizations. Considering only hunt odds; a hunter needs to look for the lowest odds when evaluating what to apply for.
The problem with looking for the lowest odds is other hunters will do this as well. If low odds hunts are attractive to hunters, you could imagine that there will be more hunters applying on low odds hunts this year than there were last year. So, a 5.0:1 odds hunt last year (which is all we can publish in this year’s synopsis) could become a 10.0:1 odds hunt when it comes time to run the draw this year.
Q: How are the draws are made?
Generally, regional wildlife biologists calculate species abundance and determine how many animals can be harvested (this is the allowable annual harvest or AAH) to maintain a healthy population. If it is decided that strict harvest control is required for a species in an area, the hunts will typically be managed under LEH. Several factors are used to determine the number of authorizations available, including hunter success rates. If we target harvesting 10 animals under an LEH hunt and we know the success rate is 50%, we will issue 20 authorizations.
Cover photo Copyright (c) Lichon Photography / Adobe Stock