Grizzly Intercept Program Limits Livestock Losses
When grizzly bears awaken after months of hibernation, they quickly begin looking for food to satisfy their winter hunger. Sometimes in the past, this has led to conflicts with livestock producers along the southern foothills, where grizzly bear habitat borders farmland.
To minimize these conflicts, road-killed deer, elk and moose are collected during the winter and are airlifted to strategic mountain and foothills sites. A helicopter dropped off more than 40 wildlife carcasses on April 7 at about 12 locations north of Waterton Lakes National Park.
"This program helps decrease the number of spring livestock kills," said David Coutts, Minister of Sustainable Resource Development. "Since the program began, our Fish and Wildlife staff have noted there are fewer conflicts between bears and ranchers, and fewer bears need to be captured and relocated overall. This is one of our many efforts to manage bears while promoting public safety."
Since the grizzly intercept program was established in 1998, bear mortalities and long-distance bear relocations have been reduced. A number of partners support the program, including Parks Canada, Volker Stevin Contracting Ltd. and Nature Conservancy Canada.
Alberta is doing more proactive work than ever on grizzly bears. Over the last two years, the province has contributed an additional $1.3 million to grizzly research and management actions. Alberta's goal continues to be to maintain grizzly bears and a wide range of other wildlife species on the provincial landscape.
Encounters with black bears and grizzly bears have increased. In 2005, there were over 2,500 reported bear occurrences or encounters, 400 of them involving grizzly bears. Fish and Wildlife staff are on-call 24-hours a day through the Report-A-Poacher line (1-800-642-3800) to respond to situations involving wildlife.
To help protect both people and bears, Alberta is launching a province-wide program in May 2006 to increase public awareness and knowledge of bear behaviour: the Alberta BearSmart Program. The province has been promoting bear awareness and safety for many years and the program will build on those efforts.