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Death of bear 148 highlights conservation challenges and opportunity for grizzlies

The death of grizzly bear 148 highlights the numerous challenges facing grizzly bears in both B.C. and Alberta, say representatives of Y2Y.

MEDIA RELEASE
Sept. 27, 2017

The death of grizzly bear 148 near McBride, British Columbia on Sunday, Sept. 24, highlights the numerous challenges facing grizzly bears in both B.C. and Alberta, say representatives of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y).

This summer, bear 148 was relocated twice after displaying aggressive behaviour near Canmore, Alberta. Following repeated negative human-bear interactions, the bear was moved July 3 from within her known home range into Kootenay National Park. She was back in Canmore within 10 days.

The six-year-old female grizzly came in close contact with hikers, runners and mountain bikers on a daily basis between July 21 and 27. On July 28 the Alberta Government tranquilized her and moved her to Kakwa Provincial Park, north of Jasper.

The decision to relocate bear 148 highlights the challenge for grizzly bears in the Rocky Mountain ecosystem. In places like the Bow Valley where grizzly bears and people live in close quarters to one-another, bears can become habituated to human activity which limits their movement and reduces their use of preferred valley-bottom habitat.

On Sunday, bear 148 left the protection of Kakwa and entered unprotected lands in B.C., where she was shot and killed legally by a hunter. B.C. and Alberta confirmed her identity on Sept. 27. It is not known if the young bear was pregnant with her first cubs.

Despite the dedicated effort of many individuals within Parks Canada and Alberta Environment and Parks, bear 148 still couldn’t survive in the crowded Bow Valley outside of Banff National Park.

Y2Y says bear 148’s struggles are representative of the threats to maintaining wildlife connectivity through the Bow Valley — one of the most densely populated regions in the world that shares the range of grizzly bears. The situation also reflects the need to conserve grizzly bears on a larger landscape scale, beyond park boundaries.

“For grizzly bears to recover from their threatened status in Alberta, we’re going to have to accept limits to development and growth in places like Canmore,” says Legault. “This loss highlights the challenges we face when it comes to grizzly bear recovery in Alberta.”

“The theory of grizzly bear management meets the reality of human use in places like the Bow Valley. Y2Y reiterates its request that the Alberta Government conduct a cumulative impacts assessment of all major development in the Bow Valley, including the Three Sisters proposals, before further growth is allowed. We need to ensure that grizzly bears can roam through the Bow Valley before we allow any more major development. 148 has taught us that,” says Legault.

“Bear 148 was not in a protected area when she was killed but she was in grizzly bear habitat,” says Candace Batycki, program director of B.C. and Yukon for Y2Y. 

“Her death highlights the need for collaborative cross-border conservation between B.C. and Alberta. Conserving wild lands for grizzlies and many other species, including caribou, should be a conservation priority for governments in this region, one that currently has relatively little protection.” 

 For further comment please contact:

Stephen Legault, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative program director, Crown, Alberta and N.W.T., 403-688-2964, stephen@y2y.net

Candace Batycki, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative program director, B.C. and Yukon, 250-352-3830, candace@y2y.net