Wildlife biologists from the University of Alberta and the University of Minnesota have given high marks to B.C.’s grizzly bear management.
The authors of the report say the province has “attained a high level of rigour and a solid scientific underpinning modified as necessary by professional judgment.”
The report, commissioned by the Ministry of Forests, was prepared by a panel of three wildlife biologists.
Meanwhile, some scientists argue that the province’s approach to grizzly bear management is flawed.
Six biologists from Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria analyzed trophy hunt for grizzly bears across the province from 2001 to 2011. Kyle Artelle, the leading researcher of the study, said there are lots of “unknowns” in the province’s grizzly management, including how big population sizes actually are, how many bears are killed illegally and how quickly each population grows.
“Not addressing these uncertainties makes the management even riskier,” she said in 2015.
In the recent report, the panel of three biologists make 51 recommendations for improving grizzly habitat protection and estimating population and harvest levels in each wildlife management region of the province.
The report recommends the government increase public consultation on grizzly bear harvest management. It also recommends B.C. “establish objectives for accommodating both hunting and viewing of grizzly bears, and investigate whether conflicts exist.”
In a press release, the province said wildlife staff are currently updating the grizzly bear harvest management procedure to address some of the recommendations, while others require additional analysis.
The provincial government estimates that there are approximately 15,000 grizzly bears in B.C. The range of grizzly bears in B.C. is partitioned into 56 population units (GBPU) used for monitoring, assessment, conservation and management.
Burns Lake is located in the Francois GBPU, 11 km east of the Bulkley-Lakes GBPU border. With an estimated grizzly population of 58 bears, the Francois GBPU was closed for grizzly hunt in 2012 as a result of its low population estimate.
Hunting is permitted, however, in some portions of the Bulkley-Lakes GBPU. There were 97 authorizations issued in 2015 for the Bulkley-Lakes GBPU. From those authorizations, 11 grizzly bears were harvested in 2015 – nine by residents and two by non-residents (guided).
The estimated grizzly population within the hunted portions of the Bulkley-Lakes GBPU is 337 in 2015.
The full report can be found with a web search for “grizzly bear harvest management 2016.”
– With files from Tom Fletcher