Monday, November 8, 2010

Grizzly Bear Economics

I only got around to looking at the Sunday paper this morning and there's an interesting article in the LA times this weekend about Grizzly Bears in Yellowstone.

Grim outlook for grizzlies in Yellowstone region
With milder winters affecting their food and hibernation habits, they're forced into a meat-dependent diet – putting them at odds with humans and livestock. They could end up as despised as wolves.

An interesting connection to our discussion on economics is the suggestion that the resumption of hunting may actually benefit the grizzlies in the long run.

"Public tolerance is starting to wane somewhat," said Mark Bruscino, bear management supervisor for Wyoming's Department of Game and Fish.

To Bruscino, it's simply wise game management to "harvest" animals, and might be better for bears. "Right now there's no value on bears," he said. "If people are allowed to compete for a limited number of hunting licenses, people will start to [ascribe] more value to bears."

The animals may be a victim of the success of conservation efforts. In 2007, the species was considered to have recovered enough to be taken off the endangered species list. But a court overturned that decision last year and returned the bears to "threatened" status, a decision U.S. Fish and Wildlife is appealing.

Wildlife officials meeting last week in Montana concluded the region's grizzly population is about 600, nearly three times the 1975 numbers. Some concluded that the increased bear conflicts signal that the region has reached its carrying capacity for grizzlies.

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