Polar bears are one of the most iconic animals on the planet, a noble species on the front-line of a warming world -- and to ensure the priceless creatures survive, Canadians are willing to shell-out some real money. According to a recent study, Canucks would be willing to contribute $6.3 billion towards saving the arctic circle's 15,000 remaining polar bears; That amounts to an impressive $420 thousand per bear!
Needless to say, attempts at putting a price-tag on wildlife inevitably stirs up controversy whenever the idea is put forth, given their intrinsic value as members of a regional and global ecosystem, but a report commissioned by Environment Canada attempted to anyways.According to the Toronto Star, a survey revealed that each Canadian household would be okay with paying an average of $508 towards polar bear conservation, though not wholly out of a love of nature:
The polar bear’s image is constantly used in advertising campaigns, the report points out. (Think of Coca Cola’s obsession with the great, white bear around Christmas and its $2 million contribution to the World Wildlife Fund to help conserve the bears.)
The iconic image of ursus maritimus has even been hijacked by the government of Canada for the $2 coin.
Plus, polar bears are an invaluable asset to science and education, the report states. Their fur has fibre-optic properties that capture heat, and their status at the top of the food chain provides much information on habitat productivity.
“It is, moreover, a charismatic animal whose image has come to symbolize climate change,” the report continues.
Additionally, the report found that the polar bear's charming appearance may have a significant influence on Canadian's generosity. Beluga whales, for example, are at a higher risk of extinction in the region, yet could command only $107 per household surveyed.