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The New West: Wildlife Accounting

An article by author Todd Wilkinson outlines some possible implications of the bobcat economic value study to wildlife management in the West.

Besides the economic value of nature tourism, large and medium sized predators have incredible non-numeric existence value. They serve important ecological roles that do not factor into ledger sheets.

The bobcat study also has implications for the debate over whether Wyoming should restart a controversial sport hunt of grizzlies when—or if—bears are permanently removed from federal protection and handed over to state management.

“With millions of people coming through Yellowstone and Grand Teton each year, the value of living wildlife to local economies, visitor enjoyment, and even to those who may never visit these parks, cannot be emphasized enough,” Elbroch said. He has conducted pioneering studies of cougars in Wyoming.

Kristin Combs, program director of Jackson Hole-based Wyoming Untrapped, has argued that if state wildlife agencies, especially in a time of declining revenues due to declining hunter numbers nationwide, ought to honestly ponder how keeping wildlife alive in Greater Yellowstone continues to fuel tourism, Wyoming’s second largest industry.

“It is time that wildlife managers prioritize the value of wildlife for the community as a whole instead of only for the enjoyment or one-time exploitation by a single hunter or trapper,” Combs said.

Elbroch says the study isn’t definitive. It is meant to elicit a reaction and ignite a better dialogue, not come across as an attack on trapping and hunting.

Full article from Planet Jackson Hole

Photo: Jason Williams

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