Monthly Archives: November 2013

Dr. Faisal Moola, Biology, not politics, must drive B.C. grizzly bear management

November 8, 2013 |

 
Photo: Biology, not politics, must drive B.C. grizzly bear management

 

By Faisal Moola, Director General, Ontario and Northern Canada @faisal_moola

Scientists from Simon Fraser University, the University of Victoria and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation recently published a peer-reviewed scientific article in the international journal PLOS ONE warning that people are killing grizzly bears at rates far exceeding government limits in British Columbia, and that the province’s controversial trophy hunt is partly to blame. “Confronting uncertainty in wildlife management: performance of grizzly bear management”, which was partly funded by the David Suzuki Foundation, is the latest in a series of analyses, including some by former B.C. government biologists, that cast serious doubt on the government’s claim that grizzly bear hunting is well-managed and science-based.

In the most recent study, PhD student and lead author Kyle Artelle and his colleagues analyzed a large government data set containing details on the deaths of thousands of bears killed by trophy hunters, as well as animal control officers, poachers and vehicle and train collisions.

Their researchers wanted to determine whether B.C.’s grizzly management met its own objectives of maintaining human-caused kills below predetermined limits set by the government. They found that of an estimated population of 15,000 bears in B.C., more than 3,500 (including over 1,200 females) were killed over the last decade, in most cases by trophy hunters. They also found total kills commonly exceeded limits set by management policy over 10 years, from 2001 to 2011. These “overkills” occurred at least once during the 10-year period in half the populations open to hunting. Disturbingly, overhunting was particularly prevalent for female bears, which are the reproductive powerhouses of the species, and thus critical to sustaining population numbers.

Trophy hunt needs to be reduced or stopped

The scientists also found the B.C. government is failing to take into account uncertainty around bear population numbers, sustainable mortality levels and predicting mortality when setting hunting limits that don’t result in excessive bear deaths. When these factors were taken into account, the actual mortality of bears resulting from human actions might be much higher than what the government considers “sustainable”, and thus the scientists show that for grizzly bear populations to be managed more conservatively, their exposure to trophy hunting and other threats would need to be reduced significantly.

Lead author Artelle told the Victoria Time Colonist, “These overkills are a serious concern because the biology of grizzly bears makes them highly vulnerable to excessive mortality. They have great difficulty recovering from population declines.”

Indeed, despite being large and ferocious animals, grizzly bears are highly sensitive to human impacts, in part because female bears reproduce later in life and often produce only a small number of cubs that survive into adulthood. Grizzlies must often travel over long distances to find enough food to sustain themselves, putting them at risk of coming into deadly contact with hunters, roads, town sites and other human encroachments into their habitat.

B.C. government dismisses science

Sadly, the B.C. government quickly dismissed the findings of this latest study in a statement released November 5, claiming that overhunting doesn’t occur “since grizzly bear harvest numbers are deliberately set very conservatively.” The province also claimed that robust populations of grizzlies remain in B.C., contrary to the expert opinion of many independent bear biologists, and the fact that on-the-ground inventories of bear numbers are rarely done.

The government also claimed that grizzlies aren’t hunted in 35 per cent of the province. While this may be true, those are almost entirely areas where grizzlies have gone extinct, are currently threatened or are not hunted because of population concerns, providing strong evidence that management is not conservative!

The province’s claim that the grizzly bear hunt is scientifically well-managed is a tired refrain. We’ve heard it before from government managers for other species driven to near-extinction due to overharvesting, overfishing and overuse — including northern cod off the Newfoundland coast and rapidly disappearing old-growth cedar forests on Vancouver Island. We’ve witnessed the ecological, economic and social chaos that has occurred with government mismanagement of other species at risk. Let’s hope the B.C. government realizes this and ends its unsustainable bear trophy hunt before it’s too late and Canada’s great bears are but a memory of our nation’s former biological richness.

Sign the petition to end trophy hunt

You can help protect grizzly bears by signing a petition, organized by nine B.C. First Nations, which calls on Premier Christy Clark and her ministers in charge to end the grizzly bear trophy hunt.

These First Nations, under an alliance called Coastal First Nations, have acted on their own to protect the species by declaring their expansive traditional territories in B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest off limits to trophy hunters under a tribal ban. As noted by Heiltsuk councillor Jessie Housty, “Analysis of their [government] own data shows managers are risking the long-term survival of grizzly populations across B.C. Our responsibility as First Nations is to step into that regulatory vacuum, and protect the bears in our territories.”

Coastal First Nations is an alliance of Wuikinuxv, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Nuxalk, Gitga’at, Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate and the Council of the Haida Nation, which is working to create a sustainable economy on British Columbia’s North and Central coasts and Haida Gwaii.

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/panther-lounge/2013/11/biology-not-politics-must-drive-bc-grizzly-bear-management/

Larry Pynn, Hunting of grizzlies, especially females, exceeds B.C. government targets: new study

SquamishGrizzlyVanSun

A grizzly is captured in its natural habitat using a remote camera installed in the upper Squamish Valley.

The number of grizzly bears killed in B.C. exceeded government targets in half the areas where the province permitted hunting of the species, a new study released Wednesday concludes.

The study, a collaboration of six biologists from Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria, and Raincoast Conservation Foundation, looked at grizzly hunting in 50 of 57 population units from 2001 to 2011. (The number of units open to hunting declined to 41 in 2012).

Published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, the study used historical records to find evidence of mortality exceeding government targets in those units by one to 24 grizzlies, or two to 171 per cent, during three periods over the decade studied.

“There is so much uncertainly in the management,” said the study’s lead author, Kyle Artelle.

“The question is, how much risk are we willing to accept with this population? It’s like Russian Roulette. When you pull the trigger, there’s a good chance that nothing will happen. But there is also a chance you’ll get a bullet in the head.” Grizzlies are officially a species of special concern.

Artelle, a Raincoast biologist and SFU PhD student, said it is especially troubling that the number of female grizzlies shot above government targets totalled about 134 during the study period. “Hunters are encouraged but not required to target males. It’s hard to discern at a distance. A small male may look like a female and vice-versa.”

More than 3,500 grizzlies (including more than 1,200 females) were killed during the study period. Legally sanctioned trophy hunting took more than 2,800 of those bears (including more than 900 females). Other sources of mortality included poaching, shooting of nuisance bears in defence of people or property, and road or rail accidents.

The current B.C. population of grizzlies is estimated at 15,000.

In response, Andrew Wilson, director of fish and wildlife, in the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, said in a statement that “while we will review the study more carefully in coming days, we do not initially share its conclusions.”

He added: “All evidence, including an expanding distribution, a large portion of older males in the harvest, the numerous DNA-based mark recapture estimates, and feedback by people who spend a great deal of time in grizzly bear habitat, suggest that across most of the province, robust populations remain.”

He noted that about 35 per cent of B.C. is closed to grizzly hunting and that ministry biologists are having their own study published soon in the same scientific journal on grizzly populations which “provides further scientific support that B.C. has been sustainably managing grizzly bears.”

Said Wilson: “Historically, hunters have taken around 300 grizzly bears a year out of an estimated population of 15,000, or a two per cent harvest rate. This is a modest harvest target well below what is required for conservation requirements.”

Researchers noted that the province can easily rectify the problem by reducing the number of limited-entry permits for hunting grizzlies.

Coastal First Nations, an alliance of aboriginal people on B.C.’s north and central coasts, has declared bear trophy hunting off-limits in their territories, but the provincial government does not recognize the ban.

lpynn@vancouversun.com http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Hunting+grizzlies+especially+females+exceeds+government/9133857/story.html

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
 
 
 
 

Robyn Appleton,Climbing with Bears in Peru, Deep Cove’s Raven Pub, North Vancouver November 24’13 @7pm

Climbing with Bears 7 years in Peru w Robyn Appleton

Climbing with Bears 7 years in Peru w Robyn Appleton

Since 2006, Robyn Appleton, resident of Squamish, B.C. and UBC PhD student has been climbing and studying the rare and endangered Spectacled Bear in the tropical dry forests of North-Western Peru. She will be sharing with us her adventures and research thru amazing stories, photos and video clips of the climbing bears, people and landscape of Peru.

Robyn has been working with a film crew for the past few years and will be featured in the up and coming BEARTREK Film next year! See clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Li2VJWKp5aM 
There is no other bear species in the world that would scale rock faces like this. You are in for a very unique and memorable evening!

Peruvian Hand-Crafted Products for Sale before and after each show! All sales will help support The Spectacled Bear Conservation Society. Help us save the endangered Spectacled (Andean) Bear while giving a much needed boost to the economy of the remote communities of  north-western  Peru. It’s your chance to purchase one of the unique hand woven textiles, carved mates, hand felted animals and birds, sterling silver jewelry, hand knit or wooden toys and much more…

Raven Pub, Deep Cove, November 24 @ 7pm. 1060 Deep Cove Rd, North Vancouver               (604)929-3834 Free!        http://www.theravenpub.com

Robyn Appleton www.sbc-peru.org  

 

Robyn Appleton, Climbing with Bears in Peru – Whistler Millennium Place, Nov.29’13

     

RANov29'13SMPoster, resident of Squamish, B.C. and UBC PhD student has been climbing and studying the rare and endangered Spectacled Bear in the tropical dry forests of North-Western Peru. She will be sharing with us her adventures and research thru amazing stories, photos and video clips of the climbing bears, people and landscape of Peru.

Robyn has been working with a film crew for the past few years and will be featured in the up and coming BEARTREK Film next year! See clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Li2VJWKp5aM 
There is no other bear species in the world that would scale rock faces like this. You are in for a very unique and memorable evening!

Peruvian Hand-Crafted Products for Sale before and after each show! All sales will help support The Spectacled Bear Conservation Society. Help us save the endangered Spectacled (Andean) Bear while giving a much needed boost to the economy of the remote communities of  north-western  Peru. It’s your chance to purchase one of the unique hand woven textiles, carved mates, hand felted animals and birds, sterling silver jewelry, hand knit or wooden toys and much more…

Millennium Place, Whistler, November 29 @ 7pm-9pm, Show 7:30pm,                                    4335 Blackcomb Way, Whistler, BC (604) 935-8410 Admission by Donation http://www.artswhistler.com/events/robyn-appleton-climbing-with-bears-in-peru

Robyn Appleton www.sbc-peru.org


Spectacled Bear Conservation:ExtraBEARganza Sale, Nov 16 &17, 2013, Vancouver Island

                                              Robyn Appleton

PeruCraftsPhoto

You are invited to come Christmas shopping and bring your friends!

   Peruvian handmade products and lots of news to  share…

             Where:       Anglers Marina

                                    Bottom of Marchant

                                   Brentwood Bay 

            When:         Saturday & Sunday

                                    November 16 -17th 2013

             Time:          10am – 4pm            

           Please come and support The Spectacled Bear Conservation Society. Help us save the endangered Spectacled (Andean) Bear while giving a much needed   boost to  the  economy  of  the  remote communities of  north-western  Peru.      It’s your chance to purchase one of the unique hand woven textiles, carved mates, hand felted animals and birds, sterling silver jewelry, hand knit or wooden toys and much more…

Buy the gift that goes on giving 

…enjoy coffee/tea & refreshments while you browse and learn more about the elusive and little known Spectacled bear 

Check us out at:  www.sbc-peru.org