FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Vancouver – Today marks the launch of the Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative, a campaign to prevent the disappearance of southwest B.C.’s grizzly bears and to rebuild their populations.
Grizzly bears are icons of BC’s wilderness. But according to the provincial government, grizzlies are threatened and in danger of disappearing from a large swath of their range in southwest BC, including Stein Heritage and Garibaldi Parks. Grizzly bears are also highly endangered in the adjoining BC-Washington transboundary Cascade Mountains, where only a few bears hang on.
To reverse this decline, the Coast to Cascades coalition is calling on the BC government to undertake efforts to restore five grizzly bear populations in southwest BC to healthy numbers by better protecting them from human-caused deaths and further loss and fragmentation of their habitat.
The initiative’s goals are consistent with a resolution recently passed by the local St’at’imc First Nation that mandates grizzly bear recovery in their traditional territories and the 2008 Sea to Sky Land and Resource Management Plan, which also identifies grizzly recovery as an objective with broad local support.
“We have a unique opportunity to save grizzlies in southwest BC, but it may be our last”, said Johnny Mikes, initiative Field Coordinator. “Through years of research scientists know what these bears need to survive and thrive, but the province must make grizzly bear recovery planning and implementation a priority.”
According to the BC government, since 2006 people have killed 3 breeding aged females from the remaining 24 bears of the Stein-Nahatlatch grizzly population near Lillooet - a population that has no hunting season. Allen McEwan of the Pemberton Wildlife Association thinks we can and must do better. “In such small grizzly populations every bear is critically important, particularly females. Each dead female means that all her potential offspring are also lost – the very animals that will help these populations recover.”
“Grizzly bears from the Chilcotin to the Cascades are increasingly pressured in their few remaining mountain refuges. Without meaningful grizzly bear conservation measures as an integral part of economic planning and development, our bears will be lost to future generations," said Peter Wood of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.
“Grizzly bears are excellent indicators of a healthy ecosystem, and by ensuring the survival of the grizzly we also look after thousands of other plants and animals that live alongside it,” said Joan Snyder of BC Nature.
By working with governments, First Nations, and local communities, the Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Project aims to raise public awareness about our current choices and the steps our governments can take to protect and recover grizzly bear populations in southwest BC.
For more information: coasttocascades.org
Johnny Mikes, Field Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org. 604 932 3811;
Peter Wood, Terrestrial Campaigns Director (CPAWS-BC): email@example.com, 604 761 3075;
Kyle Empringham, Community Organizer: firstname.lastname@example.org, 604 685 7445 x28;
Allen McEwan, President (Pemberton Wildlife Association): email@example.com, 604 894 6063