Optimism That New Minister Will End Grizzly Bear Hunt

Alberta Wilderness Association

News Release: January 20, 2005

Environmental groups are optimistic that a change in
Minister will lead to a long-awaited suspension of the
spring grizzly bear hunt in Alberta. Alberta Wilderness
Association (AWA) has consistently argued that
Alberta's grizzly population is not large enough to
support hunting. We are calling for the new Minister of
Sustainable Resource Development (SRD), David
Coutts, to listen to the recommendations of his own
scientists, and to suspend the hunt.

"Minister Coutts is expected to announce in the next few
days whether Alberta's spring grizzly bear hunt will go
ahead," says AWA Conservation Specialist, Nigel
Douglas. "We hope that a change of Minister will bring
about a more enlightened attitude to the plight of
Alberta's troubled grizzlies." The latest scientific
estimates of Alberta's grizzly bear population is less
than 700 individuals.

Previous Minister of SRD, Mike Cardinal, did not act on
the recommendations of government scientists and
continued issuing hunting licences every spring. The
Alberta Endangered Species Conservation Committee
(ESCC) recommended to the Minister in 2002 that the
grizzly bear be listed as 'Threatened' under the Wildlife
Act, which would have led to an automatic suspension of
the hunt. He declined to accept their recommendation.
Instead Minister Cardinal set up a provincial Grizzly
Bear Recovery Team, which is also expected to
recommend soon to the current minister that a spring
grizzly hunt is not sustainable.

In 2003, 73 hunting licenses were issued, down from
101 the previous year. Although the number of bears
killed was down to four from the previous year's
eighteen, this was partly due to the deep snow cover in
the early part of the hunting season.

A suspension of the grizzly hunt is the first of many
major steps that need to be taken if we are going to keep
grizzly bears in Alberta. Other vital measures include:

  • Designate the grizzly as a 'threatened' species, as recommended by the government's Endangered Species Sub Committee and Grizzly Bear Recovery Team.

  • Prevent the loss of grizzly habitat. Legislated protection of key habitat areas, such as the Bighorn, Castle and Chinchaga is vital.

  • Introduce measures to reduce the enormous network of industrial roads throughout the foothills and boreal forest.

For more information, contact:
Nigel Douglas,
AWA Conservation Specialist
(403) 283 2025; awa at shaw.ca