Tuesday, June 8, 2010  
   Volume 80 - Issue 23 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“We’re not saying we’re taking any action. We just want to know what the property is worth.”
- Councillor Ian MacLeod  
- on appraising the Centre’s   
commercial value   
Province makes move to preserve population
The Alberta government has taken a big step in grizzly bear conservation, designating grizzlies as a threatened species after five years of population studies.
Mel Knight, Minister of Sustainable Resource Development, made the announcement on Thursday, June 3, in a conference with provincial media.
"We want grizzlies to remain part of the heritage of the province of Alberta," said Knight. "Bears share the landscape with people of Alberta. We have decided that we are going to recognize (grizzly) bears as threatened in the province of Alberta."
The province has been looking at the issue of grizzly bear populations since 2002, and has recently completed a multi-year DNA study, part of which took place near Crowsnest Pass. The study collected hair samples from bears throughout the mountainous areas of Alberta, and used the information to scientifically estimate population numbers.
The studies indicate that there are approximately 700 grizzly bears remaining in Alberta. Of these, said Knight, 350 to 400 are of breeding age. He said that 1000 bears of breeding age are necessary to sustain the population.
Knight said that the province has faith in the science behind these estimates. "We've done a lot of data gathering," he said.
He said that the biggest threats to grizzly populations are traffic conflicts, human conflicts, and poaching. He noted that several initiatives have been undertaken to protect grizzlies even before the new designation, including the BearSmart program.
BearSmart is currently running in four communities, he said, including Crowsnest Pass, while another eight will join in the near future. In addition, the Pass is one of two communities taking part in the Karelian Bear Dog program, using these specially trained dogs to help condition bears to stay out of town.
"Working together," said Knight, "we will be able to protect grizzly bears. I think by and large people really do understand that this is a species we want in Alberta." He said that there has been pressure from provincial hunters to resume a grizzly hunt, but he feels that for the most part hunters have been supportive of necessary conservation efforts.
Knight added that individuals who are attacked or who have their property threatened still have the right to protect themselves from grizzlies. He said that the protection of people is still the government's top priority.
The announcement came in the wake of an unfortunate situation south of the Pass, in an area east of Waterton National Park. A mother grizzly was found with a serious bullet wound in one of her legs on Sunday, May 23, and had to be put down.
The mother's three yearling cubs were transported to a remote area, reportedly north of Crowsnest Pass, and provincial conservation groups have expressed concern about their ability to survive on their own.
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   Volume 80 - Issue 23 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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