Will Alison Redford's Clearcuts Crush Bear Cubs in their Dens?

Conservationists today called upon Alberta premier Alison Redford to halt plans for winter logging would disturb, displace or even kill bears denning in the Castle Special Management Area.

“Logging in winter threatens Alberta’s bears at the worst possible time,” said WildCanada’s Jim Pissot, “when adults and cubs are asleep in their dens.”  

Numerous studies document the impact of winter logging activities on the dens and on denning behaviour of black bears and grizzly bears. Bears abandon their dens as equipment disturbs them. In many cases, these displaced bears lose weight and have lower survival rates. Cubs born in these   dens, and even older cubs denning with their mothers, may not survive disturbance. In more expansive logging operations, bears must travel longer distances, under adverse conditions, to find and excavate new den sites. It is possible that bear mothers and cubs could be crushed and killed by logging equipment that drives over their dens.

”Albertans likely will not take kindly to this cruelty,” said Gordon Peterson, of the Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition.

Spray Lakes Sawmills and CO5 Operating Ground Rules (January 2011) require maps showing den sites of black and grizzly bears. Conservationists have requested copies of these maps and assurances that logging equipment will not disturb bears in their dens, but they have not been forthcoming.

“Researchers recommend keeping up to1 kilometre away from den sites to allow bears their needed winter sleep,” said Nigel Douglas of the Alberta Wilderness Association. “Yet SRD requires that logging equipment only stay 100 metres from known den sites. Why would SRD ignore scientific literature and put Alberta’s bears and other wildlife at further risk?”

The government of Alberta designated this portion of the Castle a “Special Place” in 1998, promising—but never providing—permanent legislated protection. A 2011 University of Lethbridge survey found that 80 percent of regional residents opposed the planned logging in the Castle and the same number want the Castle Special Management Area protected as a Wildland Park.

Thousands of Albertans have called for the Castle to be protected as a Wildland Park, celebrating its unique wilderness values. Conservationists oppose this logging proposal and urge permanent protection for southwest Alberta’s Castle.

  • Jim Pissot, WildCanada Conservation Allliance,  403-678-0016
  • Nigel Douglas, Alberta Wilderness Association, 403-283-2025
  • Gordon Petersen, Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition: 403 627-3732
  • Mike Judd, local outfitter, 403-627-2949