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News Release: Grizzlies at Risk with Recovery Plan

June 3, 2016

The draft Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan released this week by the Government of Alberta has watered down protection by decreasing limits on human footprint in the grizzly recovery zone, and increasing acceptable mortality rates in some areas. Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) welcomes the long-overdue Recovery Plan but expected hard limits to be placed on disturbance in core grizzly habitat. AWA believes increasing acceptable mortality rates ignores basic recovery strategy principles.

“Poaching was identified in the strategy as the top cause of human-caused grizzly mortality. Poachers can and probably do take advantage of hundreds of kilometers of abandoned seismic lines and industrial roads in order to access grizzly habitat,” says Joanna Skrajny, AWA Conservation Specialist. “AWA questions how grizzly bear deaths from poaching will be reduced while the strategy does nothing about undesignated trails and human disturbance.”

It is scientifically proven that habitat disturbance increases grizzly bear mortality. We know habitat loss and displacement are major factors resulting in deaths. The recovery plan must reduce disturbance in grizzly habitat before there can be a viable population in Alberta.

The draft Recovery Plan downgrades the Porcupine Hills from the recovery zone into a support zone (where there are no open route thresholds or limits on mortalities), which may result in higher mortality rates and relocation away from vital grizzly habitat.

AWA appreciates the recognition and provision of safe wildlife crossing zones. It is also significant that there is support for an expanded and well funded Alberta Bearsmart program. These measures have potential to make a difference.

The draft Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan was released on June 1, 2016 and will be available for public comment until July 15. The four highest sources of mortality in the Recovery Plan, in order were: poaching, accidental collisions with highway vehicles or trains, self-defense kills (usually by hunters), and hunter error.

For more information:

Joanna Skrajny, Alberta Wilderness Association, 403 283 2025

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