Journal of Ecotourism (UK): Preliminary manuscript - Bear Viewing (to be published later this year)

The Comparative Economic Value of Bear Viewing and Bear Hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest
Authors: Martha Honey, Jim Johnson, Claire Menke, Austin Cruz, Judy Karwacki, and William H. Durham

This study is the first to compare the economic value of bear viewing and trophy hunting of both grizzly (Ursus arctos) and black bears (U. americanus) in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia (BC), Canada. We assess trends in these two sectors of wildlife recreation over several decades and analyze their economic impacts based on 2012 data. We examine both non-resident bear hunting with guide outfitters and independent local (resident) hunters, as well as bear viewing offered by tourism companies in the Great Bear Rainforest (GBR). The study was conducted in the midst of public controversy as the BC government continues to authorize bear hunting despite the Coastal First Nations’ call for a moratorium. We provide strong evidence that bear viewing in the Great Bear Rainforest generates more economic value, both in terms of total visitor expenditures and GDP, and offers greater employment and government revenue than does bear hunting. As we show, bear viewing companies generated over 12 times more in visitor spending than guided non-resident and independent resident hunters combined ($15.1 million  versus $1.2 million) and 11 times more in government revenues ($7.3 million versus $660,500[1]).  Such findings should be useful to policy makers in determining allocations of public resources and priorities for conservation efforts. In our assessment, if bear viewing continues to expand at its current rate, the economy of the Great Bear Rainforest will not experience any negative impacts from a ban on bear hunting.

Keywords: Great Bear Rainforest; Canada; sustainable tourism; bear hunting; bear viewing; economic valuation

All financial figures with $ are given in Canadian dollars (CAD) unless marked with US $.