Learn about the issues faced by B.C. bears in 2019 with Pacific Wild’s new film series.
Deaths highlight ongoing tensions between humans & bears: Bella Coola Valley
Government Grizzly Kills June 2019:
An Evaluation of #SaveBCBears
Ghosts of conflict: Understanding dimensions of human-wildlife interactions
The debacle of BC’s environmental police
Clawing through failure:
The intersection of food & habitat
THERE’S A BAN ON TROPHY HUNTING, NOW WHAT?
Many people mistakenly believe that grizzly bears are now protected in British Columbia because of the recent ban on trophy hunting. However, grizzly bears remain under threat from B.C.'s wildfires, the rapid decline of wild salmon stocks, conflicts with humans, and other impacts related to climate change and habitat destruction.
current threats to grizzly bears
Declining Salmon Stocks
Nine of the province's 57 grizzly population units are listed as threatened under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA). Three subpopulations of grizzly bears in southwest B.C. have been assessed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In 2018, we enlisted your help to have B.C. grizzly bears listed as a species of Special Concern under SARA. After the species had been sitting in legal limbo since 2002, the western population of grizzly bears have now been added to SARA for the first time ever, an important step that has the potential to improve management and increase protections. However, the SARA listing for grizzlies only affects the 1% of B.C. that is federal land, and special concern listing doesn't afford any protection.
“We’re killing grizzly bears for the sake of an $8 chicken”
This spring, B.C. had a record high number of human-bear conflicts. There were 3,826 calls relating to black bears and 182 calls for grizzly bears this year in April and May. From April 2019 to July 2019, the Conservation Officer Service killed 249 bears and sent 31 cubs to rehab. Weak laws, discretionary regulations and lack of funding and staff have long plagued the Conservation Officer Service (COS) when responding to human/wildlife conflicts. From 2014 to 2018, conservation officers killed 72 grizzly bears and 1,872 black bears. The likelihood that an animal will be killed instead of relocated or other non-lethal practices is strengthened by the pro-hunting leadership and internal regulations of the COS. Government documents showed that 70% of Conservation Officers had hunting records in 2018. Unless something changes, wildlife will continue to lose and the COS will have lost an opportunity to align itself with the emerging conservation values of British Columbians.
GRIZZLY BEARS PLAY A CRUCIAL ROLE IN THEIR ECOSYSTEMS
Grizzly bears help distribute the ocean-derived nutrients in salmon carcasses through riparian forests, producing bigger, healthier trees. They also help keep prey-population levels in check and disperse seeds of many plants and berries. The health of an ecosystem can be measured by the health of the grizzly population it contains. However, at current rates of habitat loss and fragmentation, half of British Columbia stands to lose most of their grizzlies over the next 40 years.
Outside of parks or protected areas, it is open season on old-growth forests. This is despite independent scientists estimating that at least 70% of old-growth forests should remain intact to ensure the long-term preservation of the rainforest and the species that depend on it (Coast Information Team). Without a change in existing forest management practices and greater recognition of how globally rare and ecologically valuable ancient forests are to species like grizzly bears, we will continue to witness the loss of iconic biodiversity in B.C.