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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Study: Yellowstone Visitors Would Pay Nearly Triple to See Bears

Grizzlies = $$$$$

by: Abbey Dufoe

image: NPS
image: NPS

Just how much is that roadside bear sighting worth to you?

A new study published this week in the Journal of Environmental Management found that visitors to Yellowstone National Park would pay up to $41 on top of the standard park entrance price if they were guaranteed a bear sighting, reports WyoFile.

Not to worry, park-goers: that fee won't be added to the $25 entrance price of the park anytime soon.  Still, the study's authors expressed surprise that those surveyed said they'd be willing to pay nearly triple in order to snap a picture of a grizzly.

Yellowstone game officials do not dissuade bears from feeding or traveling near roads and lookouts, leading to greater overall bear visibility within the park.  This hands-off policy has its tradeoffs, however: In 2011, rangers spent an estimated 2,500 hours managing bear-related traffic jams, costing the park at least $50,000.

The paper estimates that if the park were to change its bear management policies to deter bears from the roads and cut down on such "bear jams," the regional economy would lose more than $10 million a year in tourism dollars and up to 155 jobs.

Read more: WyoFile

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