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This is how conservationists are working to keep the grizzly bear alive in B.C.

From habitat loss and food insecurity, to the growing human population, grizzly bears face the possibility of becoming endangered.

After the province's grizzly bear hunt ended in 2017, conservationists were left worried about where funding for bear conservation will come from, but according to the Commercial Bear Viewing Association and The Grizzly Bear Foundation, bear viewing operators stepped up and nearly $300,000 has been collected so far.

"Honestly, every time you see a grizzly bear, it's a gift. Just to see them is amazing," said Randy Burke, who's been a bear guide for three decades.

He said it's a remarkable experience to watch grizzly bears in nature, adding that people travel halfway across the country for the experience.

"It represents true wilderness. It represents a healthy ecosystem. And it represents something that we, here in British Columbia, need to cherish and make sure we protect," he said.

"In Alberta, the grizzly bear is designated as threatened, while in British Columbia, it is blue-listed," according to the province's website, meaning the species remains a special concern for conservationists.

"It's important that if we give back and we understand how to protect these animals, our relationship will be way better and their lives will be extended," said Burke, adding that one way to do that is through guided bear viewing tours.

The CDVA and the GBF have partnered up and launched a new campaign this week, highlighting the importance of grizzly bear conservation through guided tours.

Conservation efforts include research and organizers say the initiative has been a success.

"We've over $200,000 at this point. And we're expecting close to $300,000 for this year," said Kathy MacRae, the executive director of the CBVA.

Going on these guided tours isn't cheap -- a day trip costs up to $600 and a week-long excursion can go for $10,000.

"I think it's people that really love to be in nature, care about the well being of these large, beautiful animals," said MacRae.

Nicholas Scapillati, the executive director of the GBF, said money is collected in a "non-consumptive way" and goes back to conservation efforts, such as research.

"That money goes to groups like the Grizzly Bear Foundation, First Nations and their guardians and local conservation programs, and other NGOs that are working to protect grizzly bears, black bears and the white coated spirit bear," he said.

The campaign launches on the heels of the province's Grizzly Bear Stewardship Framework that aims to improve conservation efforts.

Organizers hope through ecotourism, animals, including the grizzly bear, stay with us forever. Top Stories

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