Action Grizzly Bear Launched
Calgary: Today, local, national and international conservation organizations have launched “Action Grizzly Bear.” Based out of Alberta, which for many years has been on the receding edge of grizzly bear numbers and range in North America, the new collaborative campaign is focused on achieving Alberta and Canadian government action on grizzly bear recovery at a level comparable to what has been ongoing in the United States for more than a decade with positive results. It provides citizens with a vehicle to have their voices heard on behalf of the fewer than 500 grizzly bears remaining in Alberta; a number sharply down from the 1,000 the province committed to retaining habitat for in 1984.
“Until the Alberta Government commits to recovery and backs that up with a dedicated budget, it will be up to the collective voice of citizens and organizations to convince them to do so,” explains Carl Morrison, with Action Grizzly Bear.
Action Grizzly Bear is a grassroots campaign designed to provide concerned citizens the opportunity to network on action, and it offers tools and resources they can use to effectively deliver their message to decision makers. Between now and the New Year, the campaign will focus on encouraging the Alberta Minister for Sustainable Resource Development and his Cabinet colleagues to commit to grizzly bear recovery and dedicate a budget to achieve it. In October 2007, the province’s Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan asked for less than $3 million over three years to implement the plan. The government is currently planning the 2009-10 provincial budget. For 2008-09, it totaled $37 billion, with $50 million promptly found to protect forests destined for logging from the pine beetle, but no approval for the requested grizzly bear recovery budget.
“Although stating their concern for the health of the grizzly bear population, neither the Premier nor the Minister of Sustainable Resource Development made any commitment to neither recovery nor a budget for it in their replies to recent letters requesting a commitment,” notes Morrison.
“Recovery for Alberta’s grizzlies means securing habitat and reducing human caused removals and mortalities, so that the population decline is halted and can instead return to more than the 1,000 adults internationally regarded as the number needed to get them back above the Threatened status.”
Organizations involved in Action Grizzly Bear include Sierra Club Canada, Alberta Wilderness Association, Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, West Athabasca Bioregional Society and UTSB Research.
For more information go to www.actiongrizzlybear.ca and contact:
Sierra Club Canada: Carl Morrison or Dianne Pachal, 403 234-7368, Calgary, AB
Jean Langlois, 1-888-810-4204 ex 230, Ottawa, ON (French language interviews also)
Defenders of Wildlife: Canadian Representative: Jim Pissot, 403 678-0016, Canmoe, AB
Natural Resources Defence Council: Louisa Wilcox, 406 222-9561, Livingstone MT.
Independent contacts regarding grizzly bear science: Dr. Steve Herrero, 403 243-3614, Calgary, AB
Action Grizzly Bear
The province’s continuation of scientific studies and multi-stakeholder advisory committees is helpful, but action is desperately needed on the fundamentals. Through the coming year, Action Grizzly Bear participants will encourage the provincial and federal governments to implement the “B.E.A.R.S Essentials”; fundamental actions that have been effective in the United States.
“B” = Budget dedi¬cated to recovery.
“E” = Endangered species listing.
“A” = Action on habitat protection.
“R” = Reduce human caused removals and mortality of grizzly bears.
“S” = Science-based recovery team com¬prised of grizzly bear scientists and senior civil servants who can make and implement decisions.
Line Needed in Provincial Budget for Grizzly Bear Recovery
Not only has the Alberta Government failed to state a commitment to work on grizzly bear recovery, which necessitates habitat protection, funding for recovery work remains entirely discretionary within Sustainable Resource Development (department responsible for wildlife) and non existant as a dedicated item in the provincial budget. In a November 2007 letter, the Honorable Ted Morton, Minister of Sustainable Resource Development, accurately sums up the ongoing situation for grizzly bears and their habitat.
“With respect to enhanced funding for additional staff and other resources, I will reiterate that approval of a Recovery Plan does not automatically translate into new funding commitments. Sustainable Resource Development has many priorities, and must compete with other government departments for its share of the overall provincial budget.”
The department’s 2008 through spring 2009 priorities are guided by the mandate the Premier gave the Minister in March 2008:
You will work with the Minister of Advanced Education and Technology to:
- Enhance value-added activity, increase innovation, and build a skilled workforce to improve the long-run sustainability of Alberta’s economy, and
- Lead the following initiative:
Strengthen the competitiveness of the forestry sector by working with industry to identify options to improve the long-term viability of the sector.
- In addition, as Minister of Sustainable Resource Development, you will lead the following initiative which will assist us in achieving our collective goals:
Address competing use of land through planning and decision-making directed by the completion and implementation of the Land-use Framework.