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CPAWS welcomes continued ban on Alberta grizzly bear hunt

The Alberta government’s recent decision to suspend the province’s grizzly bear hunt for 2010 is good news for the bears. With a current population estimate of  less than 700 bears in Alberta, the species requires legal protection from harm, not deliberate killing, says CPAWS.

"We applaud Minister Knight for making this very important decision for grizzly bears", says Sarah Elmeligi, Senior Conservation Planner with CPAWS Southern Alberta chapter. "The grizzly bear population needs to be double or triple what it is now to for a hunt to be sustainable.  Grizzly bears in AB qualify for threatened status.  They are very slow-reproducing animals, so we should be doing everything we can to prevent mortality," she said in an interview today on CBC Radio’s As It Happens.

In 2002, when the population was believed to be around 1,000 bears, the province’s Endangered Species Conservation Committee recommended that Alberta’s grizzlies should be designated a threatened species. Eight years later, the province still has not given the bears legal protection. The spring grizzly bear hunt was finally suspended in 2006 for three years. Since then, the suspension has been renewed on a year-by-year basis.

“While this is a positive step, it is clear that there is still a long way to go if grizzlies are ever going to be recovered to sustainable numbers in Alberta”, says Elmeligi. The province’s own Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan is clear on where the blame truly lies: “human use of access (specifically, motorized vehicle routes) is one of the primary threats to grizzly bear persistence.”

“While CPAWS believes that hunting a threatened species is entirely inappropriate, the hunt is not the main cause of grizzlies’ troubles in Alberta, and suspending the hunt in itself does not fix those problems. Protecting grizzly habitat from destruction and fragmentation, and reducing motorized access is the only thing that will allow Alberta to keep its grizzly bears in the long term,” adds Elmeligi.

For more information:
Sarah Elmeligi, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, (403) 232-6686 ext 105