Hunter knew grizzly was wear­ing track­ing col­lar be­fore mak­ing le­gal kill in B.C.

Medicine Hat News - - COMMUNITY-WEST -

The hunter that killed a no­to­ri­ous fe­male grizzly bear in B.C. af­ter the bear wan­dered into the prov­ince from Al­berta knew the an­i­mal was wear­ing a re­search track­ing col­lar but shot it any­way.

The Al­berta govern­ment had moved the grizzly, known as Bear 148, in July from its home range in a pop­u­lar de­vel­oped area west of Cal­gary to a re­mote park north of Jasper to pro­tect pub­lic safety.

The grizzly, which is a threat­ened species in Al­berta, hadn’t hurt any­one but had got­ten too close to peo­ple too many times around the Can­more and Banff area.

The B.C. Con­ser­va­tion Of­fi­cer Ser­vice said the bear was shot on Sun­day in the McBride re­gion by a non-res­i­dent hunter who was with a guide.

“The guide and hunter knew that the bear was col­lared prior to har­vest,” the ser­vice said in an email. “This was a le­gal hunt and no in­ves­ti­ga­tion is un­der­way.” No in­for­ma­tion on the hunter was given. Last month, B.C. an­nounced it would end the grizzly bear tro­phy hunt as of Nov. 30, say­ing it is in­con­sis­tent with the val­ues of most Bri­tish Columbians.

Brett Boukall, a se­nior wildlife bi­ol­o­gist with Al­berta En­vi­ron­ment, said data from Bear 148’s track­ing col­lar sug­gests the grizzly had not been a prob­lem be­fore it was killed.

“It was kind of be­ing the per­fect bear do­ing bear things away from peo­ple,” he said. “To my knowl­edge, there had been no re­ports of any con­flicts.”

Af­ter the bear was relocated in July, it wan­dered around its new range in the north­ern Al­berta wilder­ness.

The track­ing data sug­gests it crossed into B.C. on Fri­day af­ter a storm dumped snow in the re­gion, per­haps mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult for it to find food, Boukall said. It was wan­der­ing to­ward the Fraser River when it was shot.

“My­self and my col­leagues felt dis­ap­pointed that this has oc­curred, but at the same time rec­og­nized that this is some­thing that is a part of be­ing a bear in today’s busy land­scape with the abil­ity for le­gal har­vest on the B.C. side,” he said.

Con­ser­va­tion­ists are con­cerned about the death of Bear 148, which was near­ing the age to have cubs.

Can­dace Baty­cki of the Yel­low­stone to Yukon Con­ser­va­tion Ini­tia­tive said the fact the bear had to be relocated from its home range in the highly de­vel­oped Bow Val­ley west of Cal­gary shows how dif­fi­cult it is for griz­zlies to sur­vive.

Baty­cki said more must be done to pro­tect them.

“Bear 148 was not in a pro­tected area when she was killed but she was in grizzly bear habi­tat,” she said. “Her death high­lights the need for col­lab­o­ra­tive cross-bor­der con­ver­sa­tion be­tween B.C. and Al­berta.”

Al­berta En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Shan­non Phillips called the death of Bear 148 a case of bad tim­ing.

“The new govern­ment has not moved for­ward with their reg­u­la­tions yet be­cause they are new and the grizzly hunt re­mains le­gal across the bor­der in Bri­tish Columbia.”

There are about 700 grizzly bears in Al­berta. It has been il­le­gal to hunt griz­zlies in the prov­ince since 2006.

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