Study: BC’s grizzlies at risk

A study out of SFU and University of Victoria is pointing to scientific uncertainty as a warning that the current lethal practices of grizzly bear management in British Columbia could be leading the population down a dark path.

In a article, SFU biologist Kyle Artelle noted that the study does “cast some doubt that management is safeguarding the future of these populations.”

The article cited the BC government as estimating a population of 15,000 grizzlies in the province allows for a sustainable hunt. But scientists – who analyzed 10 years of data – disagree.

According to the CBC, Artelle said that the actual count conducted by managers represents only about 15 per cent of the province, leaving the remaining 85 per cent to be calculated by computer models.

“In a way it's a bit like a game of Russian roulette,” Artelle told the CBC. “The data just don't let us have a precise picture on how big that threat is. But it is a considerable risk based on that uncertainty.”

A representative of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources was quoted saying the government is confident their science is the best available and, based on the numbers represented in their science, they can effectively manage the hunt.

But researchers point to the historical collapse of fisheries as a need to exercise caution.

The trophy hunting of grizzlies in British Columbia is viewed as a revenue generator for the province; however, a 2003 report by the Raincoast Conservation Foundation showed that wildlife viewing was already generating significantly more income than the hunt.

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