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Canadian province approves controversial measure allowing hunting of grizzly bears

After nearly twenty years, the province of Alberta, Canada, has lifted its ban on hunting “problematic” brown bears, even though the species has been at risk of extinction since 2010.

After having been initially banned in 2006, hunting of these bears will be authorized by the Ministry of Forests and Parks of the province through the so-called “Grizzly Bear Management Authorization” that will allow the hunting of animals that come into direct contact with humans or “problem areas.”

“Since 2005, eight people have died in 62 brown bear attacks.“This is why the Alberta government is taking steps to protect its citizens,” said the press secretary for the Provincial Ministry of Forests and Parks, Pam Davidson, in a statement cited by the The Globe and the Mail.

The measure, however, is being harshly criticized by environmentalists and animal rights activists.

“I can’t believe I’m writing this, but the controversial grizzly bear hunt in Alberta is back,” wildlife photographer John Marriott wrote on Facebook. “A damn endangered species is about to be hunted again.”

“It took a long time to stop hunting grizzly bears,” said Devon Earl, a conservation specialist with the Alberta Wildness Association. The Globe and the Mail“It took a lot of biologists and a lot of members of the public to contact government officials at the time, saying that this animal needed to be protected as an endangered species,” he said.

Environmentalists also highlight a “great concern” with the measure, mainly due to the fact that Grizzly bear attacks are considered rare, and in most cases, bears are the worst victims of encounters with humans..

A study by the University of Alberta estimated that nearly 100 grizzly bears in the region have suffered accidental deaths from human causes, such as being hit by cars, since the turn of the century.

“No one was consulted on this measure, neither biologists nor independent conservation groups,” Grizzly Bear Foundation leader Nicholas Scapillati told The Guardian, accusing the provincial government of “using fear” to approve its proposals.

The environmentalist also criticised the way in which the proposal was secretly approved, which he considered disrespectful towards the “efforts of those working on the coexistence and recovery of brown bears.”

“This decision is a warning, not only to Albertans, but to anyone, anywhere, who believes a species should be protected: These species are not safe”, he warned.

Hunting regulations were amended on June 17 by ministerial order pursuant to Article 53 of the Provincial Wildlife Act.

A hunter authorized to kill a bear must arrive at the indicated location of the animal’s sighting within 24 hours of the license being issued and may only hunt it in areas authorized for the activity and if the animal is not accompanied by a cub.

The initial ban on hunting this species was passed after only about 850 grizzly bears were recorded in 2002, 200 of which were in Canadian national parks.

At last count, Canadian authorities recorded between 856 and 973 brown bears, of which around 175 were in national parks.

Source: Observadora

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