Too many grizzly bears dying, conservation group says
Alberta Wilderness Association cites government stats as proof protection plan not working
The latest statistics show that grizzly bears are being killed in the province at an alarming rate, says the Alberta Wilderness Association.
Fifteen grizzlies died last year according to provincial data, the AWA said in a written release.
That brings to 195 the total number killed in the last decade — 28 per cent of the known population.
"This is far, far too many in a province where the latest official numbers show only 700 total bears provincewide (well below internationally-recognized thresholds for sustainable populations)," the AWA said in a release.
The group blames most of the deaths on conflicts between bears and humans that result from the proliferation of roads, trails, pipelines and other encroachments into Alberta’s backcountry.
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AWA says these disturbances of grizzly habitat significantly exceed the maximums that were set out in the government’s 2008 Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan.
"The Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan identifies trail networks that facilitate motorized backcountry access as one of the most significant causes of grizzly deaths," said Katie Morrison, conservation director for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s southern Alberta chapter.
"Although the plan calls for a reduction in access and Alberta’s wildlife conservation organizations have been for years calling on the government to reduce access, if anything the amount of motorized access is increasing. And grizzly bears are paying the price," she said.
The Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan recommends limits on the amount of access per square kilometre in core grizzly habitat, but those numbers commonly are exceeded, according to AWA.
The organization is especially concerned about the low reproduction rates in the Little Smoky area northeast of Grande Prairie and in the Castle Special Management Area near Pincher Creek in southwest Alberta.
But the province says overall grizzly bear mortality rates appear to be stable. A spokesperson says there are no trends that indicate an increase.