Alberta Moves Grizzlies To Threatened Status

Alberta News, Bear Hunting Magazine

Groups have been fighting for years to have the grizzly bear designated as threatened in Alberta and as a result, Sustainable Resource Development Minister Mel Knight announced this week that the grizzly was now considered a threatened species in Alberta.

Thursday's announcement was made by Knight based on a recommendation from the Endangered Species Conservation Committee. The committee first recommended the grizzly be designated as threatened back in 2002.

But with the results of a massive DNA population study now in hand, the province has forged ahead with the designation. The hunt for the bear has been suspended since 2006. That suspension continues into 2011. But next year, the province will reassess the hunting ban from the point of view of individual management areas, Knight said.

Officials will look at the grizzly bear recovery plan to see at what point a hunt may or may not resume. And legislation doesn't mean a threatened species in Alberta can't be hunted, Knight said.

"There are circumstances where those things can coexist and I don't take issue with that," Knight said. "In different wildlife management units, perhaps things will progress differently."

The DNA analysis found 691 of the bears live in the province, and Knight said between 350 and 400 of those are of breeding age. Scientists, he said, would like a breeding age population of about 1,000 in Alberta.

At the heart of conservationist concerns about the grizzly bear in Alberta is road access into habitat created by oil and gas and forestry industries, and then used by the public.

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