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Whistler calls for grizzly bear recovery plans

Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative starts push for action on threatened populations

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The Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative is rallying support for government action to save the threatened local grizzly bear populations.

It wants the province to begin writing grizzly bear recovery plans, as outlined in the Sea to Sky Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP), approved in 2008.

"It has been six years now and some of the bear populations are in trouble, remain in trouble, and it's time to get on with it," Johnny Mikes with the Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative told council at a Committee of the Whole meeting Sept.2.

Whistler Council is the first to lend its support.

At Tuesday's meeting, council passed a special resolution saying: "that the community of Whistler continues to support the management, recovery and long-term viability (of) grizzly bear populations in the Sea to Sky region and encourages the creation and implementation of Grizzly Bear Recovery Plans as soon as possible."

The push comes after Mikes' presentation at the COW meeting.

Six years ago, he said, the province approved the Sea to Sky Land and Resource Management Plan — LRMP. That plan called for long-term sustainable status for the four populations that overlap the Sea to Sky area, such as the Squamish Lillooet population with roughly 60 bears and the Garibaldi-Pitt population with two bears.

While there has been much research over the last six years since the plan was approved, the recovery plans have yet to be written.

"I think most people would agree they now have a pretty good basis of science on which to actually do the recovery plans and there's no need for much, if any more, science," said Mikes. "I think most biologists would tell you, we know what we need to know and now we just have to get on with writing the recovery plans, which were called for in the LRMP."

Mikes talked to council about the importance of protecting the little remaining pockets of grizzly bears in this region and keeping the corridors of connection open.

This area is the southern-most line of extinction for the grizzly bears, a line that has been steadily creeping north over the last century.

"I think it's important that it be known that there's broad-based community support throughout southwest British Columbia for the five threatened populations of south west B.C," he said before the meeting.

He will be rallying support elsewhere in the corridor.

Trans-located grizzly dies

Meanwhile, local conservation officer Chris Doyle confirmed that a recently trans-located grizzly bear, which was frequenting the Squamish landfill, was found dead after relocation.

The 10-year-old large male bear, weighing about 550 pounds, was trans-located three times within its home range, in an effort to keep it away from the dump.

This summer it was flown by helicopter in an aluminum trap.

"After it hadn't moved from the location for a few days the biologist attended," said Doyle. "It was in the immediate area.

"It does happen with trans-location that the animal will die of stress-related symptoms."

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