Last Thursday the Alberta government made a positive move forward in wildlife preservation. Grizzly bears officially joined species including peregrine falcons and trumpeter swans on the list of threatened species. This marks the Alberta government’s commitment to granting the grizzly bear some much needed support, without which the bears are likely to become endangered.
As the provincial government works to protect this species, it must discover ways to limit access to grizzly bear habitats by industry workers, hunters and ATV riders, reports the CTV News. Fortunately, there has been strong co-operation seen in related industries.
Currently, there are believed to be approximately 760 grizzly bears found on both federal and provincial lands in Alberta, says the Calgary Herald.
By declaring grizzly bears a threatened species in Alberta, the government is required to execute a recovery plan within a year.
Progress is evident with the legally sanctioned grizzly hunt having been suspended as of 2006. The main issue now is believed to be access roads and, more specifically, the human-grizzly bear contact. Bears become dependent on grain that trains accidently leak into bear habitats. This dependency must be controlled in order to reduce habitat disturbance.
A statement made by a coalition of conservation organizations reports that limiting access to bear habitats in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho has tripled the grizzly bear count in a single generation.
Potential solutions are seen in the Idaho case. According to The Nature Conservancy in Idaho, a 647-acre conservation easement has been created to protect grizzly bear habitat in northern Idaho. The easement enables the state to conserve the grizzly bear habitat while sustaining the rural economy. However, in order to protect the grizzlies, timber is not harvested when bears are present and forest buffers are maintained along streams and roads to better protect the wildlife.
The solution seen in Idaho is only one example of what can be done to help the grizzly bears in Alberta. The creation of such an easement demonstrates how conservation organizations can work with the government, private landowners and public agencies to support conservation. While Alberta is only just beginning its journey towards such success, placing grizzly bears on its threatened species list is a step that must be celebrated.