Can Hunting of Grizzly Bears in British Columbia Hurt Grizzly Populations in Glacier National Park?

This map pinpoints grizzly bear kills in areas of British Columbia and Alberta just north of Glacier National Park and west of Waterton Lakes National Park. The section outlined in dark red is an area of British Columbia proposed for addition to Waterton Lakes National Park. Between 1978 and 2008 there were 38 grizzly bears taken by hunters inside this area, and 119 bears taken elsewhere in the Flathead headwaters area of British Columbia, according to the David Suzuki Foundation and the NRDC.

Should we care that grizzly bears are hunted in British Columbia? The Natural Resources Defense Council and the David Suzuki Foundation think so, saying those hunts could end up harming grizzly populations on this side of the US-Canadian border.

The annual grizzly hunt in British Columbia got under way April 1. A problem with those yearly hunts, though, is that the quotas are routinely exceeded, according to a report from the two groups.

Using government figures, the report compares the actual number of bears killed by humans to the allowable human-caused mortality limits set by the government between 2004 and 2008. In many parts of the province, including the transboundary Flathead region, allowable kill limits were exceeded year after year. Trophy hunting, which accounts for 88 per cent of all human-case grizzly deaths in B.C., was largely to blame. Excessive human-caused bear mortality along the US/Canada border poses a risk to the future of the threatened grizzly in the lower 48 states, which rely on bear populations in Canada for survival.

“Held up against the government’s own estimates of what is sustainable, the number of grizzlies being killed in British Columbia’s regions is excessive,” said Dr. Faisal Moola, director of science and terrestrial conservation at the David Suzuki Foundation, a Canadian organization. “What’s even more concerning is that our research shows this over killing is happening year after year in many parts of B.C., and nothing is being done to stop it.”

The two groups, along with being outraged by the take in those hunts, are worried about the impacts on U.S. grizzly populations, as some of the hunting areas fall along the B.C.- Alberta border near the Flathead River area of Montana, one of the last areas of significant grizzly bear populations in the United States

"Some of these grizzly populations lie right along our border with Canada. Of particular concern is the Flathead, where between 2004 and 2008, the period for which the most reliable population data is available, the allowable human-caused mortality rate was exceeded in four of the five years (once by 130 percent)," writes Louisa Willcox, referring to the area of British Columbia just north of Glacier National Park. "The annual grizzly bear hunt in the Flathead is not sustainable, and British Columbia’s hunting policies could harm the health of the federally protected Flathead grizzlies on our side of the border.

"The Flathead has been called 'one of the grizzliest places in the lower-48 states,' because it boasts the highest densities of any grizzly population remaining here," adds Ms. Willcox, a senior wildlife advocate for NRDC in Montana. "And, because of the incredible ecological diversity in the Flathead—with the highest diversity of carnivores of any area in North America—U.S. and Canada have recently agreed to ban mining to protect this unique landscape and the grizzlies that call it home. But, today, the same government that made a commitment to protecting habitat in the Flathead is undermining its own efforts by allowing grizzly bear hunting there."

What's the solution? Pressure on British Columbia officials. The David Suzuki Foundation and the NRDC are calling on the B.C. government "to close existing loopholes in the Wildlife Act that allows for grizzlies to be shot by trophy hunters in B.C.’s parks, and to establish large no-kill zones where hunting is prohibited and bears can live unthreatened."

“Canadians can learn a lot from the history of bear management in Yellowstone and Glacier national parks. The ban on hunting in the parks has been essential to maintaining grizzlies in these last strongholds for grizzlies in the lower 48 states,” Ms. Willcox said.

If you'd like to send the premier your thoughts, here's his contact information:

Premier of British Columbia

Hon. Gordon Campbell

E-mail:

Phone: (250) 387-1715

Comments

Hunting the Wolves in Yellowstone, Idaho & Montana has devastated them. Whole packs are no more! Town people were advertising FREE Pizza with every for paw brought in! I will never buy Idaho potatoes, or visit Yellowstone Park ever! These idiots are crazy! People have screwed up Mother Nature & the Balance so bad that it will never recover! Now they want to have a hunting frenzy with the Grizzly! These hunters ...should be ashamed of themselves for murdering any animal! Leave them alone & go Vegan!

Ericka-- May I ask what planet you reside upon?? Hunting is NOT allowed in Yellowstone!! Free pizza with a paw?? Where did you hear that from--PETA??Believe it or not hunters are one of the main champions of wildlife conservation in this country.Please try to get your facts straight as your wolfing down your soy burger. Thank You

It is mans nature to kill period.