Limited Grizzly Bear Hunt Set for 2005

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Following a review of last year's grizzly bear hunt and other data, the Alberta government has decided that the same conservative approach will be in place for this year's hunt. The hunt limitations are:

* 73 grizzly hunting licences will be issued, a reduction of 44 per cent since 2002;

* last year's shortened season will be continued in most areas; and

* the season will remain closed south of Hwy 1 and in the Willmore area.

Hunting licences will be issued through a random draw. The licences will be in effect from April 1 to May 15 (May 31 in the far north). They are limited to Alberta residents.

In 2004, 73 licences were available, and six grizzly bears were taken during the hunt. Throughout the year, four grizzly bears died from all other causes (e.g., self-defence, problem wildlife), bringing the total for the year to 10 bears, which is down from the previous five-year average of over 35 bears a year. It was the lowest overall mortality rate for grizzly bears recorded in Alberta in the past 32 years. However, the number of human encounters with grizzly bears has remained high.

The Alberta government's approach to the grizzly bear hunt makes conservation the top priority. Grizzly bear management includes more than a well-regulated hunt. It includes problem wildlife management, backcountry programs, research and effective legislation. For example, a grizzly bear inventory was started in 2004, based on DNA census techniques to more accurately estimate bear populations. As well, under current legislation there is a maximum $100,000 fine for poaching grizzly bears and orders to clean-up campsites and yards can be enforced, helping improve human and bear safety.

Those interested in applying for a licence can do so at authorized licence vendors throughout the province from February 7 to March 3.