June 8th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 23
New Grizzly bear recovery plan
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Calgary, AB – A draft of the new Alberta Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan (2016-2021) was released yesterday and CPAWS Southern Alberta is hopeful that the new plan will mean on-the-ground changes towards reducing threats to grizzly bears, improving Alberta’s landscape health and increasing education and awareness about bear safety.

Grizzly bears were first listed as Threatened in Alberta in 2010 due to concerns over low population numbers, deteriorating habitat caused by fragmentation and high levels of human-caused mortality. The Recovery Plan outlines a provincial strategy of actions needed to address these threats and to recover the species.

“In my initial review, the overall direction of the Recovery Plan looks positive.” says Katie Morrison, Conservation Director with CPAWS Southern Alberta, “We are pleased to see that the plan uses the most recent research on road densities and their effect on grizzly bears.”

The Plan identifies public motorized access associated with increasing road density as a major contributor to human-bear conflicts that have resulted in grizzly bear deaths. Human-caused bear deaths, including poaching, vehicle and train collisions, self-defense kills and hunters mistaking a grizzly for a black bear, are often facilitated by motorized access into bear habitat and put bear populations at risk.
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Much of the grizzly bear habitat on Alberta’s public land is highly fragmented with roads and motorized trails, many times greater than the research indicates is good for bears. Addressing issues to connect habitat and limit disturbances is critical to recovering grizzly bears.

“Setting science-based limits on motorized access into grizzly bear habitat is a key part of ensuring we are managing our landscape for healthy bears and safety of people; however, these limits cannot just exist on paper, we will need to see real action to close and reclaim many of these roads and trails” adds Morrison.

CPAWS Southern Alberta also supports the renewed focus in the Recovery Plan to support communities and landowners in bear country through education and conflict-mitigation strategies. As with reclamation of trails, community programs will need dedicated funding to help people co-exist with grizzly bears as the species recovers.
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Albertans are proud of our world-class wildlife. In particular, grizzly bears symbolize the wild and free spaces that Albertans value. There is room in Alberta for recreation, ranching, and resource development, but we also need to conserve and connect our best wildlife habitat. Managing the landscape for grizzly bears also provides habitat for many other species, helps maintain fish and healthy aquatic ecosystems, and protects clean and abundant supplies of water for downstream users.

It is important for Albertans to provide their input into this plan before July 15. CPAWS Southern Alberta will be doing a thorough review of the plan that will be available at cpaws-southernalberta.org
June 8th ~ Vol. 85 No. 23
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