Figure 1: Values associated with polar bears

Figure 1 presents a classification of these values as they relate to polar bears. The table shows the anthropocentric values (i.e. the values assigned by humans) and the non-anthropocentric values. The non-anthropocentric values include the intrinsic value of polar bears, independent of the human value system. Anthropocentric values include the various components of total economic value, as well as values that vary across cultures, as is the case with Inuit cultural, artistic and spiritual values. Anthropocentric values are not part of the total economic value because it is difficult to evaluate them in monetary terms.

Total economic value represents all active- and passive-use values (see Figure 1). Active-use values, also known as use values, imply direct or indirect use of a resource now or in the future (option value). Direct use involves contact or interaction with a resource and can be divided into two additional sub-categories: consumptive direct use, as is the case with hunting, and non-consumptive direct use, as is the case with viewing polar bears in their natural environment. Indirect use, on the other hand, does not involve contact with a resource, but rather using its image or the information that characterizes it. This is the case of polar bear value as an iconic species, illustrated by Coca-Cola’s use of the polar bear’s image in its advertisements. Polar bears’ educational value and scientific value, and the value of seeing them in zoos, can be included in the same category, even if the last two involve both direct and indirect uses since part of scientific research requires coming into direct contact with polar bears to take various measurements and samples, and zoos provide direct visual contact with the bears, who also happen to be in captivity.

Passive-use values, also known as non-use values, do not involve any use of the resource, only an awareness of the animals’ well-being and their role in the ecosystem (existence value) and the desire to ensure that they continue to exist in their natural habitat for generations to come (bequest value).
In the case of polar bears, we identified the following anthropocentric values:

  1. value of subsistence hunting;
  2. value of sport hunting;
  3. value of viewing polar bears in the wild;
  4. value of viewing polar bears in zoos;
  5. iconic species value;
  6. scientific value;
  7. educational value;
  8. option value;
  9. existence value;
  10. bequest value, and
  11. cultural, artistic and spiritual value for the Inuit.

The first eight values are active-use values, while the existence and bequest values are passive-use values. Together, they represent the total economic value of Canada’s polar bears. The cultural, artistic and spiritual significance for the Inuit is in a category of its own. It plays an important role in all anthropocentric values relating to Canada’s polar bears, but is difficult to assess in monetary terms.