Grizzlies' fate in panel's hands
Friday, March 12 2010 @ 11:03 AM EST
Contributed by: jkr
Group hopes for protection of Alberta's bears
As Alberta's Endangered Species Conservation Committee meets today to evaluate the status of grizzlies in the province, one major hunting and fishing organization says a limited hunt in some areas of the province wouldn't threaten the iconic bear.
But at least one conservation group expects the committee to recommend the grizzly be declared a threatened species and points to the results of a massive Alberta study released last week.
The five-year study, which used DNA methods to count the bears, estimates there are 691 grizzlies in Alberta, a population that conservation groups say is too low and means the species needs legal protection.
"The science is really clear that grizzly bears are in trouble in parts of Alberta," says Nigel Douglas with the Alberta Wilderness Association.
The debate about how long the grizzly bear hunt ban should be extended has also been reignited, with the minister of Sustainable Resource Development, Mel Knight, acknowledging it has become a "polarized" issue.
A ban on hunting has been in place since 2006 and will continue until the end of this year. After that, no decision has been made.
While conservation groups want the moratorium to continue, the Alberta Fish & Game Association says there is a place for a limited hunt.
"What is really leading to the demise of the grizzly is other activities on the landscape," said Quentin Bochar, the president of the association.
"Every time someone builds a new piece of heaven in the foothills, whether it's a house or a cabin, that takes out an area of prime grizzly habitat. We do forestry, or oil and gas activity, which are drivers of the province's economy, that's something else that affects the grizzly habitat."