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Time to save the grizzly

By Kyle Empringham
Pique

"Grizzly bears are deeply embedded in the fabric of B.C. and the culture of First Nations people who have lived here for thousands of years. Surely we can afford the small investment that it would take to protect and recover these magnificent animals so that they remain deeply embedded for our grandchildren.: -Kyle Empringham, Community Engagement Organizer, Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative

Time to save the grizzly

Jewel: Grizzly bears are deeply embedded in the fabric of B.C. and the culture of First Nations people

Letter to the editor

The killing of Jewel, the collared grizzly from the threatened Stein-Nahatlatch bear population is a tragedy (Pique Oct.31). But if her death results in positive actions for the beleaguered grizzlies across southwest B.C., it will not have been in vain.

Since 2006, three female grizzly bears from the 24 animal Stein-Nahatlatch population were killed by people, including Jinx, Jewel's cub. Three others died of natural causes.

Losing so many female bears unnaturally in such a small population is the quickest path to the demise of such small groups of grizzly bears whose reproductive rates are among the slowest of all North American mammals.

But there are cost-effective solutions. Recovery must start with the stabilization of the patient. We've got to stop human-caused deaths of grizzly bears before we can hope to restore their populations to healthy numbers.

That means more Conservation Officer Service boots on the ground, not fewer, to discourage illegal activities that negatively impact all wildlife, respond to potential conflict situations between people and bears and to investigate and prosecute poaching and other crimes swiftly and effectively.

Comprehensive outreach and education to eliminate sources of human-bear conflict are also fundamental to grizzly bear and human security. These include eliminating human attractants that bring bears in contact with people that almost always result in the bear's death.

We must implement bear-friendly resource sector practices for livestock grazing, forestry, energy, mining, and recreation that eliminate and reduce negative impacts to grizzly bear security and habitat.

The consensus based 2008 Sea to Sky Land & Resource Management Plan (LRMP) clearly expresses the desire of local communities to recover the seriously threatened grizzly bears of the Stein and three other grizzly populations that surround it. The provincial government must follow through on these management plans that have science and community driven objectives and strategies, including safeguarding habitats that grizzly bears need to find food and mates and raise young.

Grizzly bears are deeply embedded in the fabric of B.C. and the culture of First Nations people who have lived here for thousands of years. Surely we can afford the small investment that it would take to protect and recover these magnificent animals so that they remain deeply embedded for our grandchildren.

- Kyle Empringham, Community Engagement Organizer, Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative
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