Attitudes toward and Relative Value of Alaskan Brown and Black Bears to Resident Voters, Resident Hunters, and Nonresident Hunters, by Suzanne M. Miller, Sterling D. Miller and Daniel W. McCollum © 1998 International Association of Bear Research and Management
We describe and compare the economic benefits to and attitudes of 3 groups who use Alaskan brown bears (Ursus arctos) and black bears (U. americanus) for viewing and hunting. We compare benefits each group derived from use of bears with benefits derived from use of other wildlife species. The groups analyzed were resident and nonresident hunters who purchased hunting licenses in 1991 and Alaskan voters who were registered in 1990. Benefits of wildlife use by nonhunting nonresident tourists was not measured in this study. Each of the 3 groups was sampled in 1992 via a mailed survey designed to document their expenditures and net economic value (value from the resource in excess of what it cost to obtain) of an overnight hunting or wildlife viewing trip taken in 1991. We also documented willingness to pay for a hypothetical wildlife viewing opportunity. Alaskan voters and hunters supported hunting for meat, but only 22% of voters and 50% of resident hunters supported trophy hunting. About half of Alaskan voters and hunters indicated tolerance for bears in urban environments. A third of Alaskan voters reported that they sometimes avoided trips into the countryside because of concerns about bears. Most voters (63%) opposed baiting as a black bear hunting technique, but more hunters favored (47%) than opposed (39%) baiting. The average gross value (expenditures plus net value) of a voter's primary purpose wildlife viewing trip was calculated based on species seen. Trips on which bears were seen had higher average gross values ($759) than trips on which other species were seen. Average gross value of a bear hunting trip (species combined) for an Alaska resident was $1,048 ($1,541 for a brown bear hunting trip). Trip-related expenditures were higher for nonresident brown bear hunters ($10,677) than for resident hunters ($1,247). Alaska resident hunters, nonresident hunters, and Alaskan voters were willing to pay more for a hypothetical day trip to view brown bears ($404, $364, and $485, respectively) than for other wildlife species. We calculated total social benefit as the product of average gross value of overnight hunting or viewing trips and the estimated number of such trips taken by each of the 3 populations sampled. Total social benefit calculations permitted comparisons of the total direct benefits received by different groups of a particular wildlife use (overnight trips to view or hunt different species of wildlife in our study). Resident hunting of wildlife (all species) provided more total social benefit ($84.25 million) than primary purpose wildlife viewing trips by residents ($52.96 million) or nonresident hunting trips ($41.92 million). For trips involving bear hunting or viewing, total social benefit was higher for primary purpose wildlife viewing trips when bears were seen ($29.11 million) than for bear hunting trips taken by nonresidents ($17.05 million) or for bear hunting trips by residents ($4.15 million). Our analysis should be a useful component in the process of allocating wildlife uses among the claimants for priority in the use of these public resources.
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