Border Bears in Danger: New Research Shows Excessive Grizzly Hunting in Canada

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Josh Mogerman, NRDC, 312-651-7909 / Sutton Eaves, David Suzuki Foundation, 778-829-3265

Border Bears in Danger: New Research Shows Excessive Grizzly Hunting in Canada

Provincial statistics show how trophy hunting is threatening imperiled U.S. bears and jeopardizing one of the world’s last safe havens for grizzlies

VANCOUVER and CHICAGO - The number of grizzly bears killed in
British Columbia is regularly exceeding the provincial government's own
limits on bear kills - largely because of trophy hunting, according to
new research released on the first day of the hunting season in B.C. The
report from
the David Suzuki Foundation and NRDC
notes that the death toll
affects populations on both sides of the national border, as many bears
move between protected areas in the United States and parts of B.C.,
where bears are not protected from trophy hunters, even in provincial
parks.

"Grizzly bears will only remain in the U.S. and Canada if we
reduce rates of human-caused mortality," said Louisa Willcox, Senior
Wildlife Advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "The
future of this globally iconic species depends on the types of decisions
we make today about whether they can be hunted for trophy, and how we
manage the lands they live in."

In a report
released today by the David Suzuki Foundation and Natural Resources
Defense Council, statistics show that the B.C. government's limits on
human-caused grizzly deaths were exceeded in 63 % of local grizzly bear
populations (called Grizzly Bear Population Units) at least once over a
five-year period. In some cases, the number of grizzlies - which no
longer exist or are at risk of extinction in parts of the world - killed
by humans was more than double the number deemed allowable by the
government.

"Held up against the government's own estimates of what is
sustainable, the number of grizzlies being killed in British Columbia's
regions is excessive," said Dr. Faisal Moola, director of science and
terrestrial conservation at the David Suzuki Foundation. "What's even
more concerning is that our research shows this over killing is
happening year after year in many parts of B.C., and nothing is being
done to stop it."

The B.C. government sets limits each year on how many grizzly
bears can be killed by humans. This limit, along with a population
estimate, is used by government wildlife managers to figure out how many
grizzly bears can be taken by hunters without adversely impacting the
health of local populations.

Using government figures, the report compares the actual
number of bears killed by humans to the allowable human-caused mortality
limits set by the government between 2004 and 2008. In many parts of
the province, including the transboundary Flathead region, allowable
kill limits were exceeded year after year. Trophy hunting, which
accounts for 88 per cent of all human-case grizzly deaths in B.C., was
largely to blame. Excessive human-caused bear mortality along the
US/Canada border poses a risk to the future of the threatened grizzly in
the lower 48 states, which rely on bear populations in Canada for
survival.

British Columbia is one of the last safe havens for grizzlies
in North America, although the bears are increasingly threatened by
human activity such as resource extraction and trophy hunting. Early
findings from the report released in February identified more than 60
provincial parks where grizzly bears are being hunted for trophy.

In the report, DSF
and NRDC call on the B.C. government to close existing loopholes in the
Wildlife Act that allows for grizzlies to be shot by trophy hunters in
B.C.'s parks, and to establish large no-kill zones where hunting is
prohibited and bears can live unthreatened. Their recommendations have
been endorsed by grizzly bear experts from the United States and Canada,
who sent a letter to B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell today urging him to
act on the report's findings.

"Canadians can learn a lot from the history of bear
management in Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. The ban on hunting
in the parks has been essential to maintaining grizzlies in these last
strongholds for grizzlies in the lower 48 states," Willcox said.

Grizzly bears in the United States are listed under the
federal Endangered Species Act, which means they are protected from
trophy hunting and other threats. Before grizzlies were listed as
endangered in 1975, the bears had nearly disappeared from the lower 48
states. Conversely, threatened grizzlies in BC receive no legal
protection under Canada's Species at Risk Act.

Nearly 80 per cent of British Columbians oppose trophy
hunting, according to public opinion polling. More than 50,000 people in
Canada and the United States have written to Premier Gordon Campbell
and Environment Minister Barry Penner, calling on the government to end
the trophy hunting of bears in BC.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

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