Stronger management needed for threatened populations of B.C. grizzlies, beyond trophy hunt ban
The Coast to Cascade Grizzly Bear Initiative is pleased to see that today’s statement by the Provincial Government regarding ending the trophy grizzly bear hunt also confirms its commitment to a renewed wildlife management strategy for the province. The group notes the importance for this strategy to recognize that the fate of grizzly bears in B.C. is deeply tied to managing the species and their habitat beyond just the hunt.
“Many British Columbians are not aware that for years there has been no legal hunt for the most at-risk populations of grizzly bears in B.C., yet some of these populations continue to decline to perilous levels,” said Johnny Mikes, Field Director for Coast to Cascades. “Even though the Province will end the B.C. grizzly bear trophy hunt in its entirety, it is only improved management focused on habitat and non-hunting threats that will benefit the bears in these depressed and declining populations.”
B.C.’s most threatened grizzlies will still face human-caused deaths related to poor management of garbage and other attractants, poaching, livestock conflicts, plus issues such as habitat loss and fragmentation, and genetic and demographic isolation. Stronger management measures by the provincial government are urgently required to prevent threatened populations from disappearing and the overall range of grizzly bears in B.C. from shrinking further.
In late 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) assessed the world’s brown bear populations, and identified eleven around the world as Critically Endangered. Three of those are in Canada – all in southwest BC. Without provincial intervention for these populations, there is a real possibility that those grizzlies will eventually die out.
“We expect that the BC Auditor General’s Office will be releasing its report on the effectiveness of grizzly bear management in B.C. sometime this fall,” said Mikes. “We’re optimistic that the thorough sort of analysis that the Auditor General is known for will help identify opportunities to address the issues that confront our most vulnerable bears.”
The Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative was formed in 2013 to help ensure the survival of threatened grizzly bear populations in southwest BC where recovery to self-sustaining numbers is supported by a broad range of local governments, First Nations and non-profit organizations. CPAWS-BC is a leading Canadian partner in this initiative.
Johnny Mikes, Coast to Cascades Field Director
For more information on the Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Recovery Initiative, visit www.coasttocascades.org