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Grizzly bear recovery boss from U.S. offers advice for Alberta

An American conservation official who led a program that brought grizzly bears back from the brink south of the border is sharing his insights at a conference in Canmore.

Chris Servheen, who oversaw successful population rebound south of border, speaking at Canmore conference

A U.S. expert says a successful grizzly bear recovery strategy needs four key elements: credible science, strong conservation groups, and public and political support. (Chris Darimont/University of Victoria)

An American conservation official who led a program that brought grizzly bears back from the brink south of the border is sharing his insights at a conference in Canmore.

Chris Servheen, the grizzly bear recovery co-ordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is one of about 100 wildlife specialists from all over North America attending the 12th Western Black Bear Workshop.

Since Servheen took charge of the program 34 years ago, the two largest grizzly populations in the U.S. have tripled in size and doubled their ranges, he says.

That success was achieved through policies that significantly reduced bear mortality, including a clampdown on illegal hunting, and protecting bear habitat by reducing motorized traffic and even closing roads, Servheen says.

The recovery has been so strong, the two largest groups of grizzlies might soon be removed from the threatened species list.

Officials in Alberta are currently working on a new version of the province's grizzly bear recovery plan, which was last updated in 2008.

Servheen says a successful recovery plan needs four key elements— credible science, strong conservation groups, and public and political support. 

"We were fortunate to work on all four, and that's what's got us to where we are," he said.

Servheen is giving a public talk Thursday evening at 7 p.m. at the Cornerstone Theatre in Canmore.

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