Grissly Bear Management Concepts Grizzly Bear Management









Economic Aspects

People use wildlife in many ways.  Whether it is to see wildlife in the wild, watch TV, read a magazine, hunt, photograph, people are willing to spend money.  But if an animal crops, livestock or threatens then we need to get rid of the animal.  The grizzly bear has both positive and negative effects.  These effects are both actual and perceived.  The grizzly bear has a much larger potential to have positive economic effects than it currently has.  Inn order to take advantage of these potential benefits the bear needs to be maintained in a sustainable and stable manner, so it can be removed from protection by the Endangered Species Act.  A major source of income to be derived from the grizzly bear is hunting and guiding.  In Canada (Links to hunting and guiding sites in Canada A  B  C ) the cost of a package for hunting grizzly bear can be in excess of US$8000 per person.  In 1955 Bagley (1955) wrote there were an estimated 50 grizzlies left in Wyoming and there were approximately 1,700 hunters for each one.  If we were to have enough bears to satisfy a similar number of hunters today, the grizzly bear would bring in around $13.6 million to the Yellowstone area just in payments to guide services alone, not including the cost of tags nor travel to and from the area.

Yellowstone National Park represents over $1 billion to the economy of Wyoming (Crowe, pers. comm.).  While there are no studies on how grizzly bears influence this $1 billion (+), there have been studies on the effects of wildlife on visitation and how those dollars influence the local economy (Swanson et al 1994).  In 1989 Duffield (1989) found 94% of visitors to Yellowstone came to view wildlife, compared with 74% to see geysers, 39% to hike and 14% to fish.  Yellowstone now averages over 2.5 million visitors per year, resulting in a large group of people interested in seeing wildlife.  These people spent an average of $535 per trip.  People’s willingness to pay above the average amount ranged from an additional $84.82 per day for a resident of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho not getting to see wildlife during the trip) to $324.88 per trip for non-residents seeing many species of wildlife.  The variation was related to whether or not they saw wildlife.  (Swanson et al, 1994).

Studies on bear viewing in Alaska’s McNeil Falls have shown people are willing to pay large sums of money to be able to view grizzly bears (Swanson et al, 1994).  The current system includes paying a $10 application fee and a $40 refundable permit fee, and then a lottery is held for the 140 permits.  In 1986 there were 806 people who applied for a permit, and by 1989, 1049 people applied (Hill 1988).  Research showed people would pay up to an additional $270 for 4 days to view the grizzlies.  These amounts for viewing bears do not include money spent en route to and from the McNeil Falls.  The money for permits would translate into nearly $130,000 annual value for a place only utilized July and August (Swanson et al, 1994).

A key to getting this much money for Yellowstone National Park is to identify how close people are willing to get to see grizzly bears.  Judging by the number of visitors who stopped to see wolves about 2 miles or more away in Yellowstone National Park, it would not have to be very close, although at 2 miles viewing requires buying expensive spotting scopes, cameras, etc (yet another positive contribution to the economy by wildlife) (personal observation).  Another key is to identify places where the grizzly bears tend to congregate within the park (Swanson et al, 1994), and if it had a waterfall or something else aesthetically pleasing, so much the better.  Similar developments have occurred in parks known for large carnivores such as Etosha National Park, Namibia, Sabi Sabi Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, both of South Africa, and are major attractions (Engelbrecht  Unlike the past in Yellowstone the game viewing areas have blinds for the people to view from, so the animals do not become habituated (Click on the “About Cam” for info on the various cameras listed for Sabi Sabi.).

Grizzly bears are in the remote areas, or wildlands, in the lower 48 states.  The preservation of the grizzly is linked to the maintenance of theses areas.  If grizzly bears are brought back to sustainable and viable populations, then the hunting/guiding industry could also help with the economic development in counties with a lot of wildlands. Studies on the economic development of local areas/counties in Montana with a substantial amount protected as wildlands have shown they are more economically diverse and better in economic health (Rasker and Hackman, 1996).  When compared to “resource extracting” counties (those with little if any wildlands in them).  Rasker and Hackman showed those “wilderness” counties not only faired better than the “resource extracting” ones, but were better than the average Montana or the United States county as a whole.  However, they also found that some economic developments occurring in the “wilderness” counties was growing in such a way as to increase urban sprawl and threaten the “wilderness” resource.

Sheep have been predated by grizzly bears in the Yellowstone area (Knight 1998, Griffel and Basile 1981, Johnson and Griffel 1982) and in other countries, like Norway (Sagor, Swenson and Roskaft 1997).  Sagor et al (1997) found removing the bears thought to have deprecated sheep did not lead to a significant change in the numbers of sheep lost.   Johnson and Griffel (1982) stated only 3.7% of the 15,707 sheep in two grazing allotments bordering on Yellowstone National Park had losses.  These losses were caused by depredation by grizzly bear, black bear, coyote, disease, poison plants and poor herding techniques.  They found grizzly bears took more animals than coyote, disease, poison plants, but caused less sheep deaths than black bear or poor herding techniques.  While grizzly bears cause sheep deaths, they are only one of five causes of mortality for sheep.  From the data in Johnson and Griffel (1982) One way for the ranchers to improve their stock loses would also be to improve their grazing practices and/or take up traditional forms of herd protection, like dogs.

Yellowstone Science: "So sheep and grizzly bears are truly incompatible?"
Richard Knight: "Well, it’s the herders that are incompatible; grizzly bears really like sheep!"

Interesting links:

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming and Montana

An introduction to bears- courtesy of Montana fish, wildlife & parks

World Heritage site - Yellowstone National Park, protected area program

The International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA)