Vancouver, BC -- The Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative welcomes momentum to list Grizzly Bears as a Species of Special Concern under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). This proposal was posted shortly before today’s B.C. government announcement that hunting of grizzly bears is now banned everywhere in the province.
“The recent B.C. Auditor General’s report rightly pointed to the need to improve habitat management for grizzlies. Now that the debate about the hunt is over, the province’s focus can finally shift to recovering B.C.’s most at-risk populations,” says Johnny Mikes, Field Director for Coast to Cascades.
“Having grizzlies listed under SARA is an important measure that can bring much-needed attention and resources to move forward with meaningful actions supporting the recovery of highly threatened subpopulations, like the ones in southwest BC,” adds Mikes. “We have been urging the province to ensure that our most at risk grizzly populations do not disappear. Similarly, given that there are parts of the province where grizzly bears are doing well, we have asked the federal government to also concentrate their efforts through SARA on populations with the greatest need.”
Several subpopulations of grizzly bears in BC are listed as threatened provincially, and three have been assessed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – all three of these in southwest BC. These bears continue to face threats from human-related conflicts and habitat loss and fragmentation, bringing them closer and closer to disappearing from landscapes they currently occupy.
“What these particular grizzlies really need right now are quick actions that prioritize recovery and deliver on the commitment made by the province to improve their approach to managing the species,” says Mikes. “We’re eager to engage in the process to identify priority actions, and in the meantime are working to ensure grizzlies get listed under SARA to better safeguard and recover threatened populations in BC.”
The Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative was formed in 2013 to help ensure the survival of threatened grizzly bear populations in southwest BC where recovery to self-sustaining numbers is supported by a broad range of local governments, First Nations and non-profit organizations. Coast to Cascades notes that prior to today’s B.C. government announcement banning the hunt, BC’s most at-risk grizzly populations were already off-limits to hunting.
For interviews, contact:
Johnny Mikes, Coast to Cascades Field Director