The Alberta government, in March 2006, imposed a ban on grizzly bears being hunted for sport. Compared to a similar ban made in 2001 by British Columbia, this moved showed much less of a reaction. A comparison of these actions from the two provinces does shed quite a bit of light on how ridiculous the entire scenario that surrounded the decision that was made in British Columbia.
Alberta’s moratorium on grizzly bears wasn’t led by environmental groups that believe in preservation at any cost. In fact, it appears that some of the less reputable, but more famous, groups like the World Wildlife Fund were completely in the dark when it came to this decision. The WWF, as late as October 2006, was still sponsoring updates shown on numerous stations where Kelsey Grammar was calling Alberta’s policy about grizzly bear hunting into question. It appears that the bulletin regarding the new policy was missed by the WWF.
The British Columbia hunt was an entirely different matter. This ban became effective right at the time of the election that saw the very unpopular New Democrat Party get annihilated. Premier Ujal Dosanjh, in a last minute effort to obtain some extra votes, announced a sudden grizzly bear hunt moratorium, which was a program that was bringing in massive amounts of revenue from foreign hunters and also was needed for keeping in check the grizzly population. Once the Liberal party got swept into power, this move was overturned quickly, and ever since that time has remained in place.
One issue that really stands out that relates to the reaction to the policies from the two provinces from environmental groups is how little reaction and input there was when it came to the Alberta front. At the time of British Columbia’s ban, environmental groups suggested that the total population of grizzlies for the whole province was as few as 4,000 bears (in contrast to government figures which put it at 10,000, which was by comparison low to what the counts were from biologists placing the number of grizzlies at a minimum of 12,000). From all sides, the best estimates from Alberta’s number of grizzles was at just 700, which is a number that is incredibly low when one takes into consideration that this includes healthy grizzly populations in Jasper and Banff National Parks. About the only thing that can be assumed is that environmental groups got their research wrong when it came to the desperate situation of Alberta’s grizzlies, where prior to the ban around ten grizzlies got taken each year.
Another issue that really stands out when it comes to the British Columbia ban, was the extreme callousness of both environmental groups and pollsters in terms of publishing the truth so that public opinion could be truly measured. When the International Fund For Animal Welfare commissioned COMPASS to poll individual’s reaction to the ban, their directors acted like they were shocked when it was reflected by the numbers that the ban was favored by a vast majority. Although they disclosed that just 800 individuals from all around the province were polled (with a population of more than 4 million), but they didn’t add the number of people included from each of the areas. They did disclose that British Columbia’s five areas were included as part of the survey. However, they failed to mention that three out of the five areas were major metropolitan with populations comprised mainly of people who probably haven’t even see a grizzly bear, let alone ever been into any of these wilderness areas where they reside. Comments from Conrad Winn, the survey director, further clarified the approach that his institution took to the study, and suggested that his group only surveyed individuals who had moved recently from the east to British Columbia.
Canadian outdoor enthusiasts and wilderness hunting outfitters were very relieved when the Liberals were voted into power and the ban was lifted immediately. Currently the province sees around 400 grizzlies per year harvested, with foreign big game hunters taking 40% and resident hunters taking the other 60%, providing the province’s economy with a major contribution. Bear experts have suggested that grizzlies are still thriving in the province, and there are suggestions that to keep the numbers on bears even, that the hunt would have to be doubled. Many believe that with the current harvest, that the number of grizzlies will continue to increase, and the potential of livestock predation, human/bear conflicts and lower amounts of wild ungulates being some of the results. Also given that grizzly bears are very aggressive towards their own species, a greater quantity of mature male bears may result in fewer cubs and sows left alive once each season ends because of the male kill rates (it was shown by one study that in three weeks, there was one Alpha male who killed and ate nine grizzlies within his range as well as three sows along with their cubs).
It is every outdoor enthusiast’s responsibility to protect nature as well as the animals within in that remind us of why we really love the outdoors so much. However, as was demonstrated by the ridiculous situation in British Columbia, everyone who really is interested in the wild being kept “wild” needs to approach controversial issues in a very informed manner, and be willing to learn from all of the facts. There is also the need to be cautious if heading out into the wide open with a boyfriend or girlfriend. More times than not, we hear the question about marital affairs in the woodlands. Julia Hale, over at Stopcheating.org answers the is he cheating on me questions, so we would advise checking on her website before heading out into the Canadian outdoors.