Future of B.C.’s grizzly bears at risk, according to new report

B.C. Grizzly

The future of British Columbia’s grizzlies are at risk if action isn’t taken soon, according to a new report.

Published by the Grizzly Bear Foundation, the 88-page report stated that habitat loss and a decline in food sources are some of the main threats the bears face.

“Grizzly bears have lived in our province for at least 50,000 years,” Inquiry Chairman Michael Audain said in a release.

“But unless we take serious steps now to secure their wilderness home from encroachment by human activities and protect their food sources from the impact of climate change, in a few decades the bears may disappear.” 

To curb the issue, the foundation’s three-person Board of Inquiry made 19 recommendations regarding grizzly education, conservation, and research.

Four of the foundation’s recommendations were aimed at the provincial government, including regulating bear viewing, updating the 1995 grizzly bear conservation strategy, strengthening wildlife enforcement, and—perhaps most controversial—terminating the trophy grizzly hunt.

“We believe that in terms of the long-term sustainability of grizzly bears, it’s time to stop that,” said the foundation’s Suzanne Veit. 

According to a report by Global News, approximately 300 of the province’s 15,000 grizzly bears are killed in the provincially sanctioned hunt each year, and critics have argued that the hunt doesn’t make economic or environmental sense.

A 2014 report by the Centre for Responsible Travel found that bear viewing in the Great Bear Rainforest contributes more to the province’s economy, both in terms of visitors and employment opportunities, than bear hunting does.

“We are host to an amazing species and are attracting visitors all around the world to see the grizzly in their natural state,” Audain said. 

Although grizzlies once roamed much of North America, most have been killed off. The last two sustainable populations live in the mountains of British Columbia and Alaska.