British Columbia's Commercial Bear Viewing Association, which represents the leading bear-viewing operators in the province, announced yesterday that, in the second year since grizzly bear hunting was banned in the province, it has raised more than $114,000 for bear conservation.
17th December 2019
VICTORIA, BC - British Columbia's Commercial Bear Viewing Association, which represents the leading bear-viewing operators in the province, announced yesterday that, in the second year since grizzly bear hunting was banned in the province, it has raised more than $114,000 for bear conservation.
The funds come from a conservation surcharge that operators added to their tariffs in 2019.
The amount raised is more than the three times the average contribution that commercial and residential hunting associations previously raised for bear conservation, allaying concerns that the end of the hunt would mean that less money is available for grizzly and black bear science and conservation.
In 2018, after the hunt was banned, the Commercial Bear-Viewing Association (CBVA) publicly committed to collecting a meaningful conservation fee from its guests. It introduced a conservation license fee that became compulsory for members to collect in 2019.
"In the beginning, some operators worried that an extra fee would hurt their bottom line," said Kathy MacRae, Executive Director of the CBVA. "But the bear-watching public has embraced the concept. They love contributing to making sure that bears will be part of our landscape for many years to come."
Of the $114,532 collected in 2019, $58,332 will be disbursed in grants by the Grizzly Bear Foundation, a charity set up by Michael Audain, one of BC's most prominent businessmen.
The remaining $56,000 will be disbursed by the Nanwakolas Council, whose member First Nations own Knight Inlet Lodge, one of the world's largest and most successful bear-viewing operations, to support grizzly bear conservation on the coast.
The conservation license fee is modelled after the surcharges that are added to hunting and fishing licenses. Guests visiting bear-viewing operations, whether they are foreign or domestic, are asked to pay $10 if they are on a day trip or $25 for a multi-day trip.
"When the hunt was banned, some hunters predicted a fall-off in the amount of money going to bear conservation," MacRae said. "In fact, in our first full year of collecting, I'm proud to say we have more than tripled their annual contribution."
"Every time a tourist watches a bear with one of our members, they are contributing financially to the future of all bears in BC. The tourists are happy, and the bears benefit. It's a win-win."
Kathy MacRae, Executive Director of the Commercial Bear Viewing Association.
Nicholas Scapillati, Executive Director of the Grizzly Bear Foundation
Brian Collen, General Manager of Knight Inlet Lodge
Photos available upon request