Study Suggests Bear Population Healthier Than Previous Thought
Backs the groans of Alberta growers since hunting ban in region
In 2010, the province declared that bears were a threatened species, and a barring of grizzly hunting within the southern region's was believed to have slipped due to oil and gas development.
However, recently released data suggested that there were 122 grizzlies in a bear-management land area that is located in the western sliver of the province that spans the Montana border. The tally is more than twice the size of the 2007 estimated population of grizzlies, which sat at 51 total bears in the same area.
Lower estimates prompted a general panic amongst the environmentalists concerned over the species. The groups feared that the species would be wiped out of the region, which is considered the perfect habitat for the animals. The suspected decline was then pinned on the supposed effects from industrialized activity like coal, oil, and wilderness recreation.
Despite such concerns, farmers and ranchers within the area have been long disputing the claims of the liberal groups. Growers began to complain soon after the hunting ban was put into place. “There have always been questions … about the research determining how many bears were in existence,” said Martin Sharren, the executive vice-president of the Alberta Fish and Game Association, which represents outdoorsmen. “[The hunt] should never have been taken away.”
The most recent study showed bear fur on 841 rubbing posts in the regions the bears are most known to inhabit. Alberta Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development stated that bears utilize the posts as a form of communication. The researchers identified sites and covered them with wire. They then returned over the course of the summer to collect fur from the barbs.
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