A new study released today finds that bear viewing ecotourism in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest “generates far more value to the economy” in terms of revenue, taxes, and jobs than the older and more well-established trophy hunting of grizzly and black bears. The study by the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), Economic Impact of Bear Viewing and Bear Hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia, determined that in 2012, bear viewing in the Great Bear Rainforest, which has been growing rapidly over the last decade, generated 12 times more in visitor spending than bear hunting and over 11 times in direct revenue for BC’s provincial government. The study further found that bear-viewing companies directly employed an estimated 510 persons in 2012, while guide hunting outfitters generated only 11 jobs that same year.
The CREST study, the first to compare the economic value of these two sectors of wildlife recreation in the Great Bear Rainforest (GBR), comes in the midst of public controversy over trophy bear hunting. In 2012, the Coastal First Nations, representing some 20,000 First Nations people who are seeking greater control over the GBR, announced a ban on trophy hunting of bears throughout the region. They argued that, among other reasons, trophy hunting is threatening the growing ecotourism industry centered on bear viewing. The BC government, contending that the province has the sole authority to regulate hunting, has continued to authorize hunting of black and grizzly bears in the GBR.