Grizzly advocates call for government action

Cash requested to implement bear recovery plan

Local and international conservation groups have launched a campaign to convince Alberta Sustainable Resource Development Minister Ted Morton to fork out the cash needed to implement a recovery plan for the province’s dwindling grizzly bear population.

Grizzly experts estimate there are fewer than 500 of the animals left in Alberta. Louisa Willcox of the U.S.-based Natural Resources Defence Council one of the groups behind Action Grizzly Bear says Alberta can learn from successful recovery efforts in the U.S. — starting with “binding enforceable” habitat protection standards. “The Endangered Species Act is different down here than yours and without it we would be speaking about grizzly bears in the past tense here” says Willcox who works in Montana.

Alberta’s grizzly bear recovery team put out a recovery plan in October 2007 that requested $3 million over three years to put the plan into practice but the province hasn’t committed to the funding. Morton has indicated that while he supports the recommendations in the report funding for its implementation isn’t a given. “Political will is… vital” says Willcox. “Not just giving lip service to bear conservation but actually doing something.”

Conservationists say protecting habitat is the number 1 priority for bears including limiting road density and restricting development. “The more road you have the more dead bears you have” says Willcox.