Alberta grizzlies need better habitat protection to sustain population

Bear crossing highway in Alberta

Last year, humans caused 19 grizzly bear deaths in Alberta. Some of these deaths were due to accidents and others the result of poaching. Currently, there are roughly 700 grizzlies living in the province.

For advocacy groups like the Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA), these numbers emphasize not only the sensitive relationship between humans and bears, it also stresses the importance of protecting the habitats of the already threatened species.

The AWA states that in Alberta, the grizzly habitat is under pressure from industrial activity, specifically the development of industrial roads and seismic lines that disturb the bears’ environment.

In an effort to combat the declining grizzly population, the Alberta government released the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan in 2008, a five-year project that would examine the current state of the bears and outline strategies to address their threats.

The province is currently updating its recovery program, and advocates, like Sean Nichols, a spokesperson for the AWA, are hoping for more action from the government this time around.

“We need to say that enough is enough, and get serious about managing our public lands and how much access we build into them,” Nichols wrote in a release.

“Let’s not do this to their habitat, let’s not fragment their habitat, let’s not build so many roads and so many intrusions into their habitat.”

The AWA also notes that the only way to recover the population is to secure the grizzly’s habitat.

“We’re not calling for the halt of all development everywhere in Alberta, but we do hope there will be some reasonable limits put in place,” Nichols said in an interview with the Calgary Sun.

Since the spring grizzly hunt in Alberta was suspended in 2006, 168 grizzlies have died. 150 of those deaths were caused by humans.

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