Bears Will Be Better Off With New Grizzly Recovery Strategy: Y2Y
June 2, 2016
Improvement needed to ensure some areas don’t become sacrifice zones
Canmore AB - The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) is giving a mixed response to the Alberta Government’s Draft Grizzly Bear Recovery Strategy, noting that in several key areas, such as securing core habitat and keeping grizzly bear populations connected, there has been a marked improvement from the 2008 plan. But Stephen Legault, Y2Y’s Program Director for Alberta, the Crown and Northwest Territories, says there are other areas of the draft plan that need significant improvement before the group can support the plan, including what appears to be the sacrifice of the Porcupine Hills by down-grading it from recovery to “support” zone.
“A plan that aims to ensure that our grizzly bear population is not limited by human-caused mortality, where grizzlies have access to habitat that is free of human disturbance and that is connected to other areas where grizzly bears persist is something Albertans will get behind,” says Legault.
“The threshold for linear features, like highways, forestry access roads, and OHV trails has been lowered in some parts of grizzly bear habitat in Alberta. This should help reduce direct disturbance and mortality of grizzly bears along the Eastern Slopes.”
“Y2Y is also pleased to see the recognition that major highways are cutting grizzly bear populations in two. We’re encouraged that an important part of this plan is to address how grizzly bears can safely move up and down the Rockies and into the northern foothills, ensuring that Alberta’s bears don’t become isolated on habitat islands from one another, and from BC and Montana’s grizzlies. We’re looking forward to working with the government on this, as it’s a core part of our work across the Y2Y region.”
Legault notes, however, that bears in the Castle and in the Livingstone/Kananaskis region now have higher allowable human-caused mortality rates than before. “These are areas where there are increasing levels of conflict with other land users,” says Legault. “Y2Y is particularly sensitive to the challenges ranchers face. As the province allows intense OHV use and logging in grizzly bear habitat, grizzlies are being displaced onto private land where the habitat is more secure. These conflicts need to be addressed so that the Castle and Kananaskis remain strongholds for the recovery of grizzly bears. The province needs to dedicate support to these communities to help them reduce conflict. Logging practices need to be dramatically changed and OHV access strictly limited in these areas.”
“The Castle population is particularly important because it links two of the continent’s greatest grizzly strongholds in the BC Flathead Valley and Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Rather than compromising on mortality levels, we should be aspiring to ensure our new parks in the Castle are a model for the international community we are a part of.”
“Most disappointing is the apparent capitulation occurring to downgrade the status of the Porcupine Hills from a core recovery zone to a “support” zone. The Porcupine Hills must remain part of the province’s core recovery strategy. We’ve been encouraged by the province’s work on addressing linear disturbance in this area. Changing its status could mean the loss of grizzly bears from this last vestige of the prairie ecosystem they once roamed.”
For further comment, contact:
Stephen Legault, Program Director – Alberta, Crown and Northwest Territories
(cell) 403-688-2964 | firstname.lastname@example.org