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Coast to Cascades grizzly bears

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 state.

Grizzly bears in the Coast to Cascades
Grizzly bears in the Coast to Cascades

Grizzly bears in southwest BC

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 state.

Fewer than 100 grizzly bears remain in four semi-isolated populations in a sprawling area between Lillooet/Pemberton south to the Washington border and beyond. Another 200 live in the South Chilcotin ranges. The BC government classifies all five grizzly populations as threatened.

Connecting and protecting grizzly bears, Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative

The grizzly bears of southwest BC are victims of habitat fragmentation, increasing human conflict and illegal hunting, small numbers and genetic isolation. Losing these grizzlies would represent serious further erosion of grizzly bear range in western North America.

We can only restore at-risk grizzly bears to self-sustaining numbers by working cooperatively to address the root causes of regional grizzly bear declines. To that end we are partnering with communities, First Nations, industry and civic groups to prevent human-related grizzly bear deaths and to link critical grizzly habitats and populations.

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The Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative is a collaborative effort to stem the ongoing loss of grizzly bears.

Why Coast to Cascades?

Grizzly bears are in dire straits in the Coast to Cascades region, particularly in the south. Grizzlies are barometers of the health of our wildlands because they need a wide variety of secure, productive and interconnected habitats to find adequate nutrition, raise young and find mates. Where grizzly bears thrive it’s very likely that most other native wildlife species are also thriving and natural values like clean water and wild places are protected.

Grizzly bear conservation is shorthand for protecting ecological integrity and building landscape-scale resilience to climate change.    

Grizzly habitat, Coast to Cascades, BC
Grizzly habitat, Coast to Cascades, BC

Cultural and ecological integrity go hand in hand. The grizzly bear is a “cultural umbrella species” for local First Nations people. People and grizzly bears have depended on the same foods for generations. First Nations have forged a tight bond with the bear and see its protection as fundamental to their cultural survival.

The St’át’imc Chiefs Council passed a resolution mandating grizzly bear recovery in their traditional territories and the Nation is developing a robust program to protect grizzly bears and their habitats. Sea to Sky LRMP and St’át’imc traditional territories overlap with large areas of the Coast to Cascades initiative and include threatened grizzly bear populations.

As well, the grizzly bear is an icon that holds a special place in the hearts of Canadians. Communities in the Sea to Sky corridor, for example, have enshrined grizzly bear recovery and habitat protections in their consensus-based Land and Resource Management Plans.

Our goal: Recover grizzly bears

Our goal is to restore grizzly bears regionally to self-sustaining numbers in areas where they are declining and adequate habitat still exists. To do so it will be necessary to maintain and restore connectivity between at-risk grizzly bear populations. These populations have been separated by decades of persecution and human impacts to their habitat.
Landscape connectivity is fundamental to the Coast to Cascades vision and for maintaining grizzly bears in southwest BC and across the province.  

How to save Coast to Cascades bears? 

Partnerships and strategies that prevent human/bear conflict and reduce the chances for people to kill grizzly bears are paramount. And with thousands of kilometers of backcountry roads in grizzly habitat, motorized access management is a priority. Equally important are outreach strategies that eliminate bear attractants in communities and enshrine best practices for bear-friendly grazing, forestry and energy industry.    

Coast to Cascades grizzly bears are threatened because their core habitats and links between those essential habitats are not secure enough to keep bears safe and allow them to move as needed.

Coast to Cascades staff is reaching out to First Nations, area communities, tourism related businesses, local government and relevant industry sectors including forestry, ranching/agriculture to form partnerships and seek support for grizzly bear management actions that lead to grizzly bear recovery.

Years of scientific research in southwest BC have contributed much information about regional grizzly bear demographics and genetics, critical habitats, causes of declines and opportunities for recovery. The precarious situation of the bears in southwest BC warrants continued monitoring of bears and the condition of their habitat. Restoring grizzly bear numbers in the C2C region will require immediate and long-term actions with cooperation from communities, industry and governments. 

Initiative members 

St’at’imc Chiefs Council, Conservation Northwest, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (BC Chapter), Sierra Club BC, BC Nature, Pemberton Wildlife Association, BC Spaces for Nature, AWARE, Whistler Naturalists, Lillooet Naturalist Society

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