The B.C. government's failure to effectively manage grizzly bears has left nine sub-populations on the verge of extinction and is leading to widespread overkilling of bears, a report by the David Suzuki Foundation has found.
"The B.C. government gets failing grades for its implementation of the 1995 Grizzly Bear Strategy on almost every measure," said the foundation's Faisal Moola.
The peer-reviewed report analyzes whether the B.C. Grizzly Bear Strategy is sustaining bear habitat, preventing overkilling of bears by humans, maintaining the abundance and diversity of bears and increasing public and scientific knowledge of grizzly bears. The strategy has guided grizzly bear management in the province since it was adopted in 1995.
The study includes a report card, which found that although progress has been made in developing more accurate population estimates (grade: C), increasing scientific knowledge about grizzly bears (grade: B) and improving public awareness of the species (grade: C), little has been done to implement the conservation strategy to protect grizzly bear habitat (grade: D-) or prevent overkilling of bears, including in the province's controversial trophy hunt (grade: D).
"Grizzly bears have suffered from political indifference and inaction for too long," Moola said. "B.C. is one of the last places on earth where grizzlies feed, breed and roam across our forests and mountains, but we're abandoning this biological inheritance with management practices that don't work and, worse, threaten the health of the species."
The government was given a D grade for its inability to maintain the abundance and diversity of grizzly bears. Although about 15,000 grizzly reside in British Columbia, research shows that abundance and diversity — including genetic diversity — appear to have declined since the strategy began. No recovery plans have been implemented for B.C.'s nine threatened sub-populations, two of which scientists have deemed extinct: the Garibaldi-Pitt and North Cascade grizzlies, which once inhabited the Lower Mainland's forests and mountains.
Although the B.C. government claims its trophy hunt is well-managed, research cited in the report finds that with the hunt, grizzly bear mortality has not been managed below sustainable thresholds. Grizzly bear deaths at the hands of humans have exceeded government thresholds — often for consecutive years — in some bear populations, including those in the southeast corner of the province. The Cariboo and Kootenay districts have recently reopened for trophy hunting.
The foundation's report follows findings by the federal government's Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) that the majority of grizzly bear habitat in the province is "at risk" and that the species should be legally listed and protected under federal endangered species legislation.
Threatened bear populations can rebound if the government moves quickly to protect habitat, develops
Faisal Moola, Director General of Northern Canada and Ontario
647-993-5788 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Theresa Beer, Communications specialist
Backgrounder: Grizzly Bear Report Card Fact Sheet
Not making the grade
The David Suzuki Foundation analyzed the B.C. government's implementation of its Grizzly Bear Strategy and graded its performance.
GOVERNMENT IMPLEMENTATION OF B.C'S OFFICIAL GRIZZLY BEAR STRATEGY
|Conserve grizzly bear habitat||D-|
|Manage human-caused grizzly bear mortality||D|
|Ensure grizzly bear population numbers are accurately known||C|
|Maintain the abundance and diversity of grizzly bears||D|
|Increase scientific knowledge of grizzly bears||B|
|Increase public knowledge of grizzly bears||C|
Grizzly bear policy in B.C.
Grizzly bear management in B.C. falls under a 1995 policy framework called the Grizzly Bear Strategy. The strategy outlines an ambitious vision for sustaining the bears and recovering local declining populations.
The B.C. grizzly bear conservation plan lists ways to achieve the larger strategy's goals. Grizzly bear habitat can be protected by preserving a network of "grizzly bear ecosystems as management areas" where resource development would be prevented and/or strictly managed, hunting prohibited, and recreational activities that put grizzly bears at risk (like off-highway vehicle use) controlled.
The plan recognizes that human-caused mortality must be reduced and kept below sustainable thresholds by conservatively managing the grizzly bear sport hunt.
The Grizzly Bear Strategy acknowledges that there is much we don't know about grizzly bears, and more research is needed — including more accurate population estimates, genetic analyses and best locations for management areas. Public education to raise awareness about waste management, safety in bear habitat, bear biology and the legislation on bear management is called for.
The status of grizzly bears in B.C.
A century ago, 35,000 grizzly bears lived in B.C. and also flourished from Alaska to Mexico, and east to Ontario. Today, about 15,000 grizzly bears inhabit B.C. Grizzlies have disappeared from much of the province.
Grizzly bears need large ranges for food, mates and security. Their ranges are limited by natural and man-made obstacles, including mountain ranges and urban development, which divide them into smaller sub-populations.
B.C. has 56 sub-populations, mainly along the Canada-United States border and the coast north of Vancouver, with numbers ranging from six to 176. These numbers are too low to maintain healthy populations. Grizzly populations with fewer than 250 bears need conservation intervention but, as the U.S. has demonstrated, sub-populations can be revived through strategies such as habitat protection and strict controls on hunting.
Although classified as threatened and at risk of extinction, grizzlies aren't listed under the B.C. Wildlife Act or the federal Species at Risk Act. B.C.'s grizzlies are designated by the federal Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife (COSEWIC) as a "species of special concern". The Conservation Data Centre also found B.C. grizzlies are of "special concern" because their biological characteristics make them particularly sensitive to human activities like hunting or natural events like declines in food sources.
In addition to habitat loss and other human-connected threats, grizzlies also face climate change-influenced challenges including declines in important food sources such as whitebark pine seeds and seed-producing shrubs like huckleberry.
Court rules federal government acted 'unlawfully' in delaying recovery strategies for at-risk species
VANCOUVER — The Federal Court has declared that the Minister of Environment and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans acted unlawfully in delaying for several years the production of recovery strategies for four at-risk species threatened by industrial development, including the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker route.
"We're pleased that the Court has agreed that it's unacceptable for the federal government to continue to miss the mandatory deadlines set out in the Species at Risk Act," said Sean Nixon, Ecojustice staff lawyer. "That said, it is disappointing that we had to resort to litigation yet again to force the government to follow its own law."
Ecojustice lawyers acted on behalf of five environmental groups in this lawsuit: the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace Canada, Sierra Club BC, Wilderness Committee and Wildsight.
"This is a clear decision, not just for the four species at issue in this lawsuit, but for the more than 160 at-risk species in Canada that still await the release of their recovery strategies," said Scott Wallace, senior research scientist at the David Suzuki Foundation.
The lawsuit challenged the federal government's multi-year delays in producing recovery strategies for four species — the Pacific Humpback Whale, Nechako White Sturgeon, Marbled Murrelet and Southern Mountain Caribou. Ecojustice lawyers argued that the federal government's chronic delays have forced species already struggling to survive to wait even longer for the protection they desperately need.
Justice Anne L. Mactavish wrote in her judgment:
It is, moreover, apparent that the delay encountered in these four cases are just the tip of the iceberg. This is clearly an enormous systemic problems within the relevant Ministries, given the respondents' acknowledgement that there remain some 167 species at risk for which recovery strategies have not yet been developed.
She later wrote:
To state the obvious, the Species at Risk Act was enacted because some wildlife species in Canada are at risk. As the applicants note, many are in a race against the clock as increased pressure is put on their critical habitat, and their ultimate survival may be at stake ....The timelines contained in the Act reflect the clearly articulated will of Parliament that recovery strategies be developed for species at risk in a timely fashion, recognizing that there is indeed urgency in these matters. [Reasons for Order and Order]
The final recovery strategies for the four species at issue in this case were at least three years overdue when the lawsuit was filed in September 2012. While the final recovery strategy for the humpback whale has since been posted, it was not taken into account by the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel — even though it contains relevant information the panel should have considered in its final report.
In response to the lawsuit, the federal government has issued proposed recovery strategies for the white sturgeon, murrelet and caribou in recent months. The Court will oversee that process to ensure the final recovery strategies are produced in a timely fashion.
"This is a good day for Canada's species at risk," said Gwen Barlee, policy director with the Wilderness Committee. "Not only did Justice Mactavish find that the federal government acted unlawfully, but she found these delays were part of a larger systemic problem. The Canadian government now needs to ramp up its efforts to finalize recovery strategies for the more than 160 other species at risk that need protection."
For more information, please contact:
Sean Nixon, staff lawyer | Ecojustice
Scott Wallace, senior research scientist | David Suzuki Foundation
Gwen Barlee, policy director | Wilderness Committee
Caitlyn Vernon, campaigns director | Sierra Club BC
Toronto, February 5, 2014 — Bullfrog Power, Canada's leading green energy provider, and the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF), one of Canada's most trusted voices on the environment, are joining forces to drive new action on climate change.
The partnership will encourage Canadians from all walks of life to make small but significant changes and to live greener. A public campaign will educate Canadians on Canada's impact on the global climate and the central role that renewable energy will play as part of the solution. Through this campaign, Bullfrog Power and DSF are working together to demonstrate to all Canadians that renewable energy is an essential component of a model for a successful and sustainable future.
"Partnering with the David Suzuki Foundation is a natural choice for Bullfrog Power because we share a common set of values and an understanding that we all need to act now to preserve our environment for future generations," said Peter Melanson, CEO, Bullfrog Power. "Together we will work to educate Canadians on practical solutions to reduce their home's impact and ultimately to help reshape the Canadian energy landscape."
For most of its 23-year history, the David Suzuki Foundation has made promoting solutions to climate change central to its activities. From providing green living tips to developing a renewable energy plan for Canada through the Trottier Energy Futures Project, DSF is consistently a leading Canadian voice on the environment. Likewise, for nearly a decade, Bullfrog Power — founded on the belief that consumers have a unique power to change the world — has been providing both homes and businesses across Canada with practical green energy solutions.
"The David Suzuki Foundation is excited to be partnering with Bullfrog Power to encourage Canadians to embrace clean energy," said Ian Bruce, Science and Policy Manager at the David Suzuki Foundation. "The coming years are critical in advancing public understanding and action on climate change — the world's greatest environmental and socioeconomic challenge — and we believe that working with Bullfrog Power will help to spur real and lasting change."
About Bullfrog Power
Bullfrog Power, Canada's leading green energy provider, offers renewable energy solutions that enable homes and businesses to reduce their environmental impact, support the development of green energy projects in Canada and help create a cleaner, healthier world. As a Certified B Corporation, Bullfrog Power meets higher standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Thousands of Canadian homes and businesses are doing their part to address climate change and air pollution by switching to green energy with Bullfrog Power. Homes and businesses can sign up easily, quickly and affordably at www.bullfrogpower.com.
About David Suzuki Foundation
Through a combination of sound science and active public outreach, the David Suzuki Foundation motivates Canadians to take action on the environmental challenges we collectively face. Canadians consistently name the David Suzuki Foundation as the most credible and reliable source of science-based environmental information in Canada. They also rank the Foundation above all other environmental organizations in working co-operatively with government and business to resolve critical issues.
Contact Bullfrog Power
Public Relations Manager
Tel: 416.360.3464 ext 239
Contact David Suzuki Foundation
Tel: 604.732.4228 ext 1238
Monarch butterfly numbers have plunged to a record low, putting the annual migration to Canada at risk.
Monarch butterfly numbers have plunged to a record low, putting the annual migration to Canada at risk.
David Suzuki Foundation recruiting Toronto residents to help create a "Homegrown" green corridor through the city in 2014
The David Suzuki Foundation began recruiting Toronto residents today to participate in the second year of the Homegrown National Park project, a collective effort to create a green corridor along the former path of Garrison Creek, in the city's west end.
"The first year of the Homegrown National Park project showed how residents can quickly, creatively transform the places where they live,work and play — and have a lot of fun while doing it," said David Suzuki, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. "I urge residents to apply to be a Homegrown Park Ranger and help bring more nature home to the city in 2014."
The Homegrown National Park project was inspired by authors Richard Louv and Douglas Tallamy. It began in April 2013 with a training session for 21 "Homegrown Park Rangers," eager local residents with backgrounds ranging from art and architecture to real estate and theatre. Over the following six months the Park Rangers worked with 14 partner groups and more than a dozen parks and residents associations to organize popular events, like a Birds and the Bees Picnic, pizza nights in the park, educational walking tours and an outdoor movie screening.
The Rangers then began to hatch plans for greening schoolyards, alleys, parks, streets, balconies and yards. Some began experimenting with green interventions, like pothole planters, moss graffiti and canoe gardens. Others aimed for bigger interventions, including transforming a parking lot into green plaza, a schoolyard into pollinator garden and "parkify-ing" a residential street. By the end of the first year, more than a dozen Park Ranger-led interventions and events were completed, resulting in more than 2,000 volunteer hours and 1,000 flowers and shrubs planted.
The Homegrown National Park project will continue in 2014 with an expanded area that includes municipal wards 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 — roughly from Eglinton Avenue to the waterfront, between Keele Street and UniversityAvenue (Map of the 2014 Homegrown National Park boundaries).
Motivated, creative individuals are encouraged to apply to join the 2014 Homegrown Park Ranger team. Working cooperatively, Park Rangers will develop and launch new green projects with the support of the David Suzuki Foundation and project partners. Park Rangers will be selectedthrough a competitive process. Application deadline is midnight on February 10, 2014.
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- December 9, 2013
- Report voices community concerns over development in Peace Region