Differing views on grizzly management

Further debate on hunting of grizzly bears in area around Kimberley

 

As reported in the Bulletin/Townsman in Decemberthe provincial government is proposing that a limited entry hunt for grizzly bears could be reopened in Management Units 4-20 – the St. Mary Valley and north to Skookumchuck – and 4-23 – in the Elk Valley – to allow the harvest of five grizzlies each year for three years. This target could be altered if more grizzlies are killed than the target, either through hunting or rail and road kills.

Townsman reporter Sally Macdonald spoke to local wildlife ecologist Bob Jamieson, who said that grizzly numbers are healthy in these areas.

According to Jamieson’s report, there are now more than 900 grizzlies in the East Kootenay. In the Crown of the Continent region – in the Waterton and Flathead areas and northern Montana – there are an estimated 1,226 bears. In the Canadian Rockies there are an estimated 1,309 bears, and west of the Rocky Mountain Trench there are an estimated 1,767 bears, for a total of 4,302 bears.

“One of the pieces of the puzzle is that most people don’t realize just how many bears we have now. Grizzly bears are certainly not a species at risk anymore. We have a very healthy population that is producing an excess of bears that are moving into human occupied areas,” Jamieson told the Townsman.

Jamieson supports the province’s proposal to reopen the grizzly bear hunt around Kimberley and in the Elk Valley to manage this population growth.

However, a local wildlife biologist, Dive Quinn, disagrees.

He says Jamieson makes some interesting points in his grizzly thesis, but perhaps simplifies grizzly conservation issues.

“As a biologist I have worked on grizzly studies and conservation efforts for over a decade, and have learned that, there are rarely simple conclusions to be made regarding wildlife population changes,” Quinn said. “While I wholeheartedly agree that grizzly sightings in the trench are way up, I am not sure that indicates that grizzly numbers are up.”

“We know from collar data that grizzlies do come down into the trench on their wanderings on a regular basis, but in the past they have passed through and returned to the mountains. So why are more bears using the trench more than in the past?”

Quinn believes one contributor may be the open season on cow elk.

“This hunt, combined with the new two-doe open season on whitetail, results in 400 plus elk and hundreds of deer gut piles (and who knows how many wounded elk and deer that die later) – all below 1100 meters in the trench – right where grizzly sightings are on the rise. This is potentially a good reason for a grizzly to stick around longer in the lower elevations it may have avoided in the past.”

In other words, it’s not an increase in bear numbers but a change in bear behaviour.

Quinn also says that studies by noted experts such as Bruce MacLellan indicate that grizzly densities in the Flathead are declining, not rising.

“Does this mean that population dispersal is taking place, and we should begin to hunt them? Or does this mean that the habitat is changing? We need to ask experts like Dr. Maclellan and Dr. Micheal Proctor for insight into this, and not respond to more grizzly sightings with a ‘from the hip’ approach of increased hunting,” Quinn said.

Local conservation group Wildsight concurs.

Executive Director John Bergenske said in a statement that while it is true that grizzly bear numbers are recovering in this region, it is a simplistic misrepresentation to suggest that recovery is complete and that a hunt is necessary to avoid grizzly encounters with humans.

“Population numbers can easily give the false impression of an overabundance of bears roaming the region. While approximately 900 grizzly bears do inhabit the Purcells and Rockies between the US border and Golden, these are sometimes broken into small isolated populations—particularly in the southern Purcells. Isolated populations are threatened with extinction. Fragmentation of populations remains a significant issue and there remains a dire need to create and maintain connectivity corridors with adjoining bear populations.

“Hunting will not make people safer. There is no evidence to suggest that opening the hunt will address problem bears wandering near human habitation. We all need to become bear smart and take action on how we influence wildlife behaviour,” Bergenske said.

 

 

 

Just Posted

The Kimberley Refugee Resettlement Group is active again after a few years off and are working to find a home for Gloria in Kimberley. Photo taken at a KRRG fundraiser several years ago. Bulletin file.
Kimberley Refugee Resettlement Group active once more

KRRG working to find a refugee a safe place to live in Kimberley

The Kimberley Aquatic Centre is set to reopen its doors to the public on July 6, after being shut down due to the pandemic in March, 2020. The Centre will be initially operating with reduced occupancy and limited program offerings. Bulletin file.
Kimberley Aquatic Centre set to re-open July 6

New safety infrastructure, limited guests and programming allow facility to open again

Interior Health is reporting a COVID-19 exposure at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley. Bulletin file.
COVID-19 case identified at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley

Interior Health is conducting contact tracing

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

Calvin Dickson photo.
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for East Kootenay

Conditions favourable for the development of thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Grace (left), a caribou that was born in a maternal pen north of Revelstoke, is alive and well said the province. It appears she even has a calf. Maternity pens aim to increase caribou calf survival by protecting them from predation until they are older and less vulnerable. (Contributed)
For the first time in years, caribou numbers increasing near Revelstoke

North herd growing but south herd still concerning

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Most Read