Alberta Government Fails Our Grizzly Bears Again

Alberta Wilderness

News Release: February 2, 2005

The Alberta government yesterday announced that it will go ahead with this
year's spring grizzly bear hunt, despite overwhelming scientific evidence
that Alberta's grizzlies are in serious trouble. Alberta Wilderness
Association (AWA) is one of a number of environmental organisations in
agreement with government scientists and committees who have consistently
recommended suspending the hunt.

"Scientists now agree that Alberta's grizzly bear population stands at
less than 700 bears," says AWA Conservation Specialist, Nigel Douglas. "The
government's own Grizzly Bear Recovery Team has called for a postponement to
the hunt. Its Endangered Species Conservation Committee has recommended
listing the grizzly as a "threatened" species which would lead to an
automatic suspension of the hunt. To continue to kill threatened grizzly
bears is obtuse in the extreme."

Today's announcement will allow for 73 hunting licences to be issued - the
same number as last year. Six bears were killed in the hunt in spring 2004.
This was less than in some previous years (in part due to heavy snow in the
early part of the hunt season), but still six bears unnecessarily removed
from a threatened population.

A suspension of the grizzly hunt is the first of several major steps that
need to be taken if Alberta is going to sustain a grizzly bear population in
the future. Other vital measures include:

  • Designate the grizzly as a 'threatened' species, as recommended by the
    government's Endangered Species Conservation Committee and Grizzly Bear
    Recovery Team.
  • Prevent the loss of grizzly habitat. Legislated protection of key
    habitat areas, such as the Bighorn, Castle and Chinchaga is vital.
  • Introduce measures to reduce the enormous network of industrial roads
    throughout the foothills and boreal forest.

"If we can't even take this relatively modest first step towards
recovering grizzly populations, then the future for grizzly bears in the
province is bleak," says Douglas.

For more information, contact:
Nigel Douglas, AWA Conservation Specialist: (403) 283 2025