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SCI Foundation has recently partnered with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Parks Canada, and Alberta Parks, Tourism, and Recreation to fund a grizzly bear management analysis in Alberta.
The project focuses on restoring grizzly bear populations to southwestern Alberta through population monitoring and conflict resolution. Its objectives are to examine changes in grizzly bear populations, densities, and distributions. Researchers also are evaluating changes in grizzly bear conflicts with ranchers over the past decade, and exploring the efficacy of efforts aimed at reducing such conflicts.
In 2010, the grizzly bears in Alberta were listed as a “threatened” species after a population study showed there was a small breeding population and habitat loss due to human development. However, residents disagree with the study and believe that grizzly populations are stable, if not on the rise in the province. A landowner survey completed by the Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association in 2010 indicated that close to 75% of respondents felt that grizzly bear numbers in the area were increasing. It also found that most residents believed the incidence of livestock predation by grizzly bears was growing and that the threat to public safety by bears was increasing. Despite the desire for stricter grizzly management by residents, hunting will not be reinstated until there is a current population estimate for the Bear Management Area (BMA).
Many residents are skeptical of the current management strategies in place. With this project, landowners are engaged in the identification of sites frequented by bears and in the collection of data. This direct engagement will, hopefully, increase local confidence in the data and any subsequently developed grizzly bear management strategies.
The information gathered by this research project is critical to facilitate more effective bear management. There needs to be a thorough review of bear/human conflicts, bear relocations, and an evaluation of management programs in the region. However, strategies learned through this project can help other areas, like the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, with management of growing grizzly bear populations. SCI Foundation continues to work with projects across the globe to ensure accurate, up-to-date research is at the foundation of wildlife management and looks forward to seeing this project’s results.
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