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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Parks Stewardship Forum

UC Berkeley

Grizzly bear restoration and economic restructuring in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

  • Author(s): Johnson, Jerry
  • et al.

Reformers of the US Endangered Species Act often present its protections as a hindrance to economic prosperity in rural counties by placing the welfare of animals above that of people. This position suggests that lost livestock grazing, restrictive land and water use regulations, and compromised property rights preclude human well-being. This may be particularly acute in western states where large predator conservation requires many acres of pristine habitat embedded in a mosaic of public and private lands. This paper examines the proposition by analyzing the result of conservation of an apex predator—the Yellowstone grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)—and its impact on human economic well-being in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The conclusion is that, in this case, such conservation policy did not foreclose human prosperity. Rather, conservation is associated with gains in economic welfare of residents.

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