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Coast to Cascades launched to save grizzly bears

Sep 24, 2013

Conservation Northwest has launched a collaborative effort to stem the ongoing loss of grizzly bear range and to promote grizzly bear recovery in the transboundary ecosystems of southwest British Columbia and northwest Washington.

Coast to Cascades launched to save grizzly bears

When Jinx - a female grizzly bear in the Stein-Nahatlatch - was killed, all her potential offspring were lost too. CoasttoCascades.org hopes to save southwest BC's grizzly bears. Photo: Dave Molenaar

Conservation Northwest with a coalition of BC-US groups has launched the Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative to save southwest British Columbia’s grizzly bears. The new initiative is urging the BC government to restore the five grizzly bear populations in the region to healthy numbers. Government needs to better protect grizzly bears from human-caused deaths and prevent further loss and fragmentation of their habitat.

Map of threatened grizzly bear populations

The Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative is a collaborative effort to stem the ongoing loss of grizzly bear range and to promote grizzly bear recovery in the transboundary ecosystems of southwest British Columbia and northwest Washington.

Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative launched
According to St'at'imc First Nations: "If Grizzly bears are failing to thrive and are at risk of going extinct in a territory they have occupied since time immemorial, then the landscape basis for the St'át'imc Culture is likewise at risk."

“Scientists know what these bears need to survive and thrive; but the province must make grizzly bear recovery planning and implementation a priority,” said Coast to Cascades Field Director Johnny Mikes. "We have a unique opportunity to save grizzlies in southwest BC, but it may be our last."

The goals of the Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative are consistent with a resolution recently passed by the local St’at’imc First Nation that mandates grizzly bear recovery in their traditional territories. Many of these bears overlap St'at'imc First Nation traditional territory.

Threats

Grizzlies bears are icons of BC's wilderness. But in southwest BC, they are threatened and in danger of disappearing from a large swath of their range, including Stein Heritage and Garibaldi Parks. 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.

“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. We can do better," said Allen McEwan of the Pemberton Wildlife Association.

Close connection

Grizzly bears are also highly endangered in the adjoining BC-Washington State transboundary Cascade Mountains, where only a few bears hang on and where restoration of the North Cascades grizzly bear to self-perpetuating numbers has long been a goal of Conservation Northwest.

Coast to Cascades member groups include Conservation Northwest, St'at'imc Chiefs Council, CPAWS (BC Chapter), Pemberton Wildlife Association, Whistler Naturalists, Lillooet Naturalist Society, AWARE, BC Nature, BC Spaces for Nature, and Sierra Club BC.
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