Bear Viewers Raise Over $100k for Conservation, After End of the Grizzly Bear Trophy Hunt
Photo by Jeff Reynolds / Maple Leaf Adventures
Dec 18, 2019 – VICTORIA, BC — Although skeptics like to say that travel companies will only take action to protect the planet when mandated by law, the bear viewing industry on Canada’s west coast is proving once again they’re leaders in sustainable tourism.
This week, British Columbia’s Commercial Bear Viewing Association (CVBA), which represents the leading bear-viewing operators in the province, announced 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 companies themselves created the idea and voluntarily implemented it.
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.
This is just one of many conservation actions that CVBA member companies take every year to protect the wildlife, ecosystems and communities in which they operate.
Maple Leaf Adventures, a coastal expedition cruise company that specializes in bear viewing, is one example. Maple Leaf and several of its colleagues founded the CVBA 18 years ago to develop the industry in a way that protects bears.
Many of the companies are ecotourism companies, run by people who take a holistic and caring approach to their guests and their environment.
“If we don’t have a symbiotic relationship with the wildlife we view, then we don’t deserve to exist as an industry,” says Kevin Smith, CEO of Maple Leaf Adventures and a senior bear viewing guide. “At the CVBA, we’ve all been bear advocates from the start. The flourishing of our industry is proof that people want to do what is right in travel — we just have to make it possible for them.”
The money for this initiative comes from conservation licences that the companies issue to each guest. Providing the licence document during a trip allows guides to talk about the link between bear conservation and ecotourism with visitors, and is positively received by guests, says Smith.
CVBA members are local businesses with a small footprint. They limit the number of guests to protect the carrying capacity for the places and the wildlife. Their bear guides are all properly trained and certified in bear viewing best practices by the CVBA.