Would you pay $41 to see a bear along a road? The Bear News, July 21, 2014
Traffic jams on the Park’s roads due to bear viewing began in the early 20th century, a time when visitors could feed panhandling bears from stagecoaches with some regularity (Schullery, 1992). Practices such as these led to an increase in the number of bear-inflicted human injuries within the Park’s boundaries, averaging 48 injuries per year from the 1930’s through the 1960’s (Gunther and Hoekstra, 1998). With the implementation of a strictly enforced bear management program in the 1970’s, this number declined dramatically, with a large portion of the decline coming from reduced black bear caused injuries on roadsides (Gunther, 1994).
Here’s the abstract (emphasis mine):
Viewing bears along roadside habitats is a popular recreational activity in certain national parks throughout the United States. However, safely managing visitors during traffic jams that result from this activity often requires the use of limited park resources. Using unique visitor survey data, this study quantifies economic values associated with roadside bear viewing in Yellowstone National Park, monetary values that could be used to determine whether this continued use of park resources is warranted on economic grounds. Based on visitor expenditure data and results of a contingent visitation question, it is estimated that summer Park visitation would decrease if bears were no longer allowed to stay along roadside habitats, resulting in a loss of 155 jobs in the local economy. Results from a nonmarket valuation survey question indicate that on average, visitors to Yellowstone National Park are willing to pay around $41 more in Park entrance fees to ensure that bears are allowed to remain along roads within the Park. Generalizing this value to the relevant population of visitors indicates that the economic benefits of allowing this wildlife viewing opportunity to continue could outweigh the costs of using additional resources to effectively manage these traffic jams.
Substitute “roads” for “our driveway, and I think I’ve just found a way to pay our mortgage.
The Bear News archive:
- Man bites (OK, saves) bear, bears eat cupcakes and cookies
- Bears like oral sex, pepper spray, and the NIH campus
- Bears in cars, hammocks, and pools