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 with Rob Miskosky

The Grizzly Affair

Over the years I’ve tried to disparage many of those who claim to protect our predators and then ask for money from the uninformed to “help their cause”. Namely groups such as Y2Y, Defenders of Wildlife, the Wildlands Project and so many others who use predators as a means to solicit money from city-dwellers, all the while furthering a re-wilding agenda.

A simple Internet search will show there are thousands of groups like these with hundreds more popping up regularly. One has to believe it must be a lucrative business this “protecting the world from people stuff.” 

Media darling Jim Pissot immediately comes to mind as one of those so quick to move from one cause to the other under a different guise. Hence his new position as executive director of the WildCanada Conservation Alliance after the American-based group Defenders of Wildlife decided he was no longer needed on the payroll; after all, advocating for the protection of wolves in a province where wolf numbers are clearly out of control... well, let’s just say you can only pull that off for so long before it stales.

I’m not quite sure what the modus operandi of the WildCanada Conservation Alliance is yet as I can’t seem to find a website anywhere that would tell me, or any literature for that matter. I have to assume it is the same as all the others though because truly they all seem concerned about the same thing; removing man from vast tracks of the Rockies and its foothills.

So for now the media speed dialing Pissot will focus strictly on the grizzly bear; there’s a lot more money to be made here, regardless if you get the numbers right or not.

And even when you don’t, contemptible journalists like hunter-hater Michael Platt of the Calgary Sun will put whatever number in place that works for the current column. For years Pissot hollered that there were far fewer than 500 grizzlies in the province, maybe as few as 300, and Platt sopped it up and wrote it more than just once. Funny thing is

Platt recently wrote, “It turns out Pissot, executive director of WildCanada Conservation Alliance, was dead on...” Sorry Platt, but wasn’t that number less than 500, maybe even 300, not the 700 you now say Pissot implied? Dead on?
Platt once wrote: “I feel sorry for many of the weekend killers, simply because no one has recognized and offered to treat what is obviously a deep-rooted sickness.”

“Getting a thrill or rush of power from killing qualifies the killer as mentally unbalanced, be it a grizzly or gopher in the cross-hairs.”

And more recently: “You can almost hear the itching of trigger fingers, hankering for bear.”

But I digress. Platt can take the low road all he wants, it’s what he does best.

The grizzly is a pawn in the protectionist scheme of re-wilding the Rockies. - photo Duane Rosenkranz

For now though, let’s examine a few grizzly bear notions, one being the historical range of grizzly bears in this province. Some suggest the great bear once roamed all parts of Alberta in untold numbers, thousands of them perhaps. Others suggest the numbers were much more limited than that, including Utah State University ecologist and wildlife historian Charles Kay who recently insisted, “There is no evidence to support the notion that grizzly bears lived in large numbers outside of the Rockies.”

And if we take into account that grizzly bears don’t recognize borders, it would be safe to offer that so-called British Columbia grizzly bears, estimated at 17,000, may be wandering into Alberta and Alberta bears may be wandering back into BC, would it not? In fact, to suggest otherwise would be deceitful.

So, knowing this to be true, can we ever put a real number on so-called “Alberta” grizzly bears? Is it even possible to think that 691 bears is the answer to the $2 million dollar question?

The Alberta Wildlife Status Report No. 37 (Update 2010) by Marco Festa-Bianchet outlining the status of grizzly bears in Alberta is purely an estimate of 582 grizzly bears based on the DNA capture-mark-recapture (CMR) sampling of as many bears as could be snagged by baited, barbed wire enclosures.

Areas that didn’t see these barbed wire bait stations had their populations estimated, “based mostly on habitat quality”, to hold another 15 Eastern Fringe bears, 23 Swan Hills bears, and 71 Alberta North bears for a total population estimate of 691 bears. Of these 691 bears it is suggested that 359 are mature enough to breed.

However, the report leaves open the possibility that there could be as many as 841 grizzly bears of which 437 would be mature enough to breed. This is based on the high end of a “confidence limit” for the DNA-based CMR estimates. The reports states though, that the estimated number of mature bears in Alberta “suffers from a lack of data.” So, it is quite possible that the number of mature, breeding bears could even be higher. Which means that a brand new bunch of grizzly bear offspring will be running around our province this spring, regardless of the number being used.

The purpose of my column here, however, is not to condemn the science behind this report or the report itself. I am here to question the underlying goals of the protectionist regime and their animal-rights allies so committed to removing man from our eastern slopes. Those using the grizzly bear and the wolf as reasons to advance the Wildlands Project, where untold numbers of wildlife corridors designed to keep man out are ear-marked for the North American continent. This is the key question to the grizzly bear debacle, not the hunting of the bear. But rather, who will be making the decisions in the future regarding wildlife use within these regions. Will it be the protectionist regime that holds so much disdain for hunters and hunting? Or will it be wildlife managers trained in all aspects of wildlife management?

It also has to be asked, who will be making future decisions regarding land-use in this region? Will it be the Y2Y’s of the world who promote their re-wilding concept, or will it be government agencies and elected officials?

Will the United Nations continue to pursue World Heritage Site designations in our eastern slopes, successfully taking leverage in determining the future conservation of this region possibly through recommendations made by the Y2Y consortium? 

These are important questions that must be asked. Because without a basic understanding of who will be determining conservation policies within our province, 1.2 million square kilometres of land, from Yellowstone National Park to the Yukon (Y2Y), much of what is in Alberta, will be controlled by a protectionist regime that uses the grizzly bear to justify the need for the Wildlands Project, which includes the implementation of mass human relocation from these regions.

This is the true reason behind the “Grizzly Affair”, the grizzly bear being the pawn in a radical environmental scheme where human land-use is promoted as the limiting factor to grizzly bear survival, and as such man’s footprint should be removed from the scene.

Look at the numbers. The grizzly bear is not on the cusp of extinction; that is an exaggeration. Its numbers may very well be what they should be; their numbers from the past are based on “anecdotal” evidence (right Jim?) and comparing them to today’s numbers can’t be justified.

In the words of Jim Pissot, “The plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’.” Unless of course it suits your needs. ■

For previous Outdoor Pursuits click here.

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