Posts Tagged 'grizzly bears'

Bears threatened

Alberta designates grizzlies a threatened species.

Critics rightly point out the threatened tag might not even protect them from being hunted again. The province will reassess the hunting ban next year from the point of view of individual management areas and Knight admits the designation doesn’t mean a threatened species can’t be hunted.

The Alberta Wildlife Act was previously changed to permit the minister to authorize hunting of a threatened species.

But it’s not hunting that’s the biggest threat to grizzlies; the bigger threat is when oil and gas and forestry development encroaches into bear country and the public uses their roads for access into the sensitive habitat.

Ungraceful lurching

Globe editorial on grizzly conservation in Alberta.

Given that, as biologist Mark Boyce, the Alberta Conservation Association Chair in Fisheries of the University of Alberta, says, “Well over 90 per cent of bear mortality occurs within 500 metres of a road” – the plan should include some access management, e.g., new roads built by the oil and other extraction industries in areas of bear habitat would be gated, instead of opening up huge swaths of land for recreational use.

Such a targeted measure would not be an obstacle to Alberta’s economic future, or an insurmountable political problem for its government. It is time that Alberta’s oxymoronically titled Minister of Sustainable Resource Development, Mel Knight, stopped the ungraceful lurching movements and showed some leadership.

Irony

Alberta Wilderness Association gets dressed up.

Saturday’s rally by the Edmonton chapter of No More Grizzlies got the attention of passersby like James Nelson, who said he literally paused mid-step when he heard grizzly bears referred to as “godless killing machines.”

“I thought they were serious,” he said. “It kind of stopped me in my tracks.

“I was pretty relieved when I realized they didn’t mean it, and that they’re actually hoping to save the grizzlies. Pretty clever, really.

Mind boggles

On Alberta’s grizzly bear hunt ban.

Alberta’s new Sustainable Resource Development Minister Mel Knight has left the door open to allow a limited grizzly hunt in the Grande Cache region. The MLA for Grande Prairie-Smoky recently opined that “there are places where people are going to say: ‘Why don’t you allow some harvest in a certain area?’ “You reckon that folks can be found suggesting almost anything, but we don’t expect the government of Alberta to investigate an Elvis sighting in Rimbey or promote the limited use of chewing tobacco. The mind boggles at the notion that a clearly threatened species whose numbers have almost certainly been enhanced by recent protections might be subject to a new hunt. Knight invoked the spectre of personal and livestock security in his recent comments, as if there was some sort of grizzly infestation in the Grande Cache area.

No haven

David Suzuki Foundation says B.C.’s bears aren’t safe in parks or protected areas.

“Most people think of these parks as big wildlife conservation areas,” Moola said. “They are envisioned as places where plants and animals are safe from human activity. What our research shows is that this perception is absolutely untrue.”

B.C. has taken steps to protect the grizzly habitat in some areas, including by banning certain resource-extraction activities in the Flathead Valley in southeastern B.C., said Moola, a scientist and adjunct professor at the University of Toronto.

But these measures are nearly useless without laws that prevent the bears themselves from being shot and killed, he argued.

Animal exploitation

A look at animal symbols prompted by boxing kangaroo controversy at Olympics.

Nations send messages with their choice of emblematic fauna and none is more unequivocal than America, which speaks volumes about itself with the majesty of the bald eagle.

The Australians speak of spirited defiance with their boxing kangaroo, the British of stoicism with their bulldog and the French of lunch with their Gallic rooster.

What Canadians were speaking of when they settled on the beaver is a question only you good people can answer, but before you do, consider what the grizzly speaks of. A 500-kilogram lump of angry fauna that gallops at 50 km/h speaks of simple, primitive, trouser-soiling fear.

And, with great respect, it’s a powerful symbol that Canada hasn’t exploited as much as it could have over the decades.

Track kill

Parks Canada and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. work to reduce grizzly-train collisions in Rocky Mountains.

A Parks Canada report done in May notes at least 63 bears, mainly females, have died in the mountain parks between 1990 and 2008. The vast majority of the deaths were related to interaction with humans. Railways are listed as the main cause.

The biggest problem is in Banff National Park, where the number of deaths of independent female grizzlies has exceeded Parks Canada targets for the past seven years.

Why are so many bears dying on the tracks? Experts say that one of the main reasons is grain spilled from bulging hopper cars en route to Vancouver from Prairie farms.

Spills of wheat, corn, peas and other grains are irresistible to the hungry omnivores, described as walking stomachs with noses.


@AIC

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