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VICTORIA – B.C.’s Auditor General has released a new report into the province’s Grizzly Bear Management program, which says that two government ministries have not been managing the species according to expectations.
In her report that was released today, Carol Bellringer explained that provincial management of grizzly bears is conducted by both the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Bellringer and her team found that the ministries have not fulfilled many of their commitments, including a grizzly bear management plan and the implementation of a recovery plan in the North Cascades. She also said that an inventory and monitoring strategy of grizzly bears, and clear policies for bear viewing were both non-existent.
According to the report, B.C. is one of the last areas of North America where grizzly bears live in their natural habitat. The health of B.C.’s 15,000 grizzly bears is important because, as an umbrella species, they are an indicator of how well other species and ecosystems are doing. Bellringer’s office did find that the greatest risk to grizzly bears is not the hunt. It is the degradation of grizzly bear habitat.
“Grizzly bear populations in some areas of B.C. are increasing, but this is likely happening independently from an adequate management framework,” said Bellringer. “The expansion of development in oil and gas, forestry and human settlement makes it more difficult for grizzly bears to mate, and results in food source loss, as well as more human-bear conflict.”
The report also noted that increases to the province’s 600,000 kilometres of resource roads also leads to more human-bear conflict, and ultimately, grizzly bear deaths.
In the report, Bellringer mentioned that both the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations have undertaken activities to reduce grizzly bear habitat degradation, but have not evaluated whether their efforts are effective.
Bellringer has made 10 recommendations, including a recommendation for government to review legislation to clarify roles and responsibilities between the two ministries, which currently have overlapping responsibilities.
The Auditor General’s full report can be found below.
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