Albertans are invited to provide input for the draft 2016-2021 Alberta Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan in an online survey from now until July 15.
Grizzly bears are listed as a Species of Special Concern in Canada but have no federal protections under the Species at Risk Act. Grizzly bears were classified as Threatened in Alberta in 2010, largely due to small population size, high rates of human-caused mortality and deteriorating habitat conditions. At that time, it was an estimated that Alberta had 700 and 800 grizzly bears. In 2006, Alberta cancelled the grizzly bear hunt. There are no plans to reinstate it at this time.
The draft 2016-2021 Alberta Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan will replace the previous 2008-2013 Alberta Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan and will focus on reducing the incidence of human-grizzly conflict and human-caused grizzly bear mortality. Updating recovery plans regularly gives government the ability to adjust to changing trends and demands on the landscape.
Proposed key initiatives based on the latest science in grizzly management include the creation of new recovery zones that incorporate specific management priorities for each zone and reducing the road density in areas near people to reduce human-caused deaths.
“Grizzly bears are an iconic wildlife species in Alberta and a key part of this province’s biodiversity. We want to ensure they remain that way for generations to come by addressing threats to their survival. We invite Albertans to provide their ideas and suggestions to help inform this important recovery work.”
Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks
In support of grizzly bear recovery efforts in Alberta, government is providing $475,000 in ongoing funding support to fRI Research to improve the understanding of grizzly bear populations.
“Our research has allowed us to better understand the challenges faced in maintaining and growing a healthy grizzly bear population and to develop ways to reduce human grizzly bear conflict to the benefit of each.”
Gord Stenhouse, Research Scientist, Program Leader Grizzly Bear Program, fRI Research
These funds will help support the research and analysis needed to evaluate ecosystem health and integrity related to grizzly bear recovery efforts and directly assists in achieving key elements of the grizzly bear recovery plan. These include education and awareness, the role of Environment and Parks in reducing conflict between people and grizzly bears and valuable research on movement and status to ensure the plan will succeed once recovery actions are implemented.
$150,000 is also being granted to the Waterton Biosphere to reduce potential conflict between people and grizzly bears.
The greatest threat to a healthy grizzly bear population is human interactions such as poaching, vehicle and train collisions, self-defence kills and cases where hunters misidentify grizzlies as black bears. There are also increasing records of human-grizzly conflict, usually as a result of bears being drawn to food or, in some areas, attacking livestock which may result in these problem bears being destroyed.
The work being done to protect this species is just one of many ways Environment and Parks is addressing the challenges faced in protecting Alberta’s at-risk species and their habitats.