No Fooling! Alberta Continues To Hunt Its Threatened Grizzly Bears

Alberta Wilderness Association

Friday April 1st - or All Fools Day - marks the first day of Alberta's spring grizzly bear hunt. The irony is not lost on Albertans, who have been increasingly calling for a suspension of the hunt until grizzly populations recover to a healthy level.

"If the situation weren't so deadly serious for Alberta's grizzlies, you might believe that it was some sort of bad taste joke," says Nigel Douglas, Alberta Wilderness Association Conservation Specialist. "Some of the justification which we have seen for continuing to hunt a threatened species has been laughable."

Alberta Sustainable Resource Development's (SRD) website lists a number of reasons for continuing with the grizzly hunt. These range from the supportable ("There is a long-standing hunting tradition and a high demand."); to the scientifically insupportable ("The population growth rate is potentially increased by harvest of adult males that kill and eat young grizzlies"); to the faintly ridiculous ("Hunting harvest provides information about bears" and "Hunting maintains a knowledgeable group of people who are strong advocates for Alberta's grizzly population.").

"The government's claims of a 'conservative' hunt are quite simply not borne out by the facts," says Jim Pissot, Executive Director of Defenders of Wildlife Canada. "The science points clearly to the fact that Alberta's grizzly population can no longer support a hunt but, unfortunately, the Alberta government seems to be reluctant to listen to the facts."

The government's Grizzly Bear Recovery Team recently recommended to the Minister of SRD that the grizzly hunt should be suspended. This follows on from the 2002 recommendation by the government's Endangered Species Conservation Committee that the grizzly should be listed as a 'threatened' species under the Alberta Wildlife Act, which would bring about an automatic suspension of the hunt.

Environmental groups will continue to oppose the hunt, and hope that more reasoned consideration will lead to a suspension of the hunt in 2006. "Nobody is claiming that Alberta's grizzlies are in trouble only because of the hunt," says Douglas. "There are many things which have to be changed if we are going to keep grizzlies on the landscape in Alberta, but suspending the hunt is the first easy step that we can take to reduce what are currently unsustainable levels of mortality."

For more information, contact:

Nigel Douglas,
Conservation Specialist,
Alberta Wilderness Association
Phone: (403) 283 2025