One of our jobs at ESRD is to try to help humans and animals co-exist. Most of the time, public education and tools like BearSmart help us accomplish this – but sometimes, it’s a little more complicated.
Grizzly bears are a threatened species in Alberta. As part of our recovery plan, we gather information each year on how many human-caused grizzly deaths have occurred in the province. Obviously, the goal is to minimize these deaths, so that the grizzly bear population can grow.
There are several potential reasons for a human-caused grizzly death. Someone attacked by a grizzly may have to defend themselves by killing it. Bears are also struck and killed by large vehicles. But the biggest culprit is also the most problematic: poaching.
The numbers are in – and they’re not good
More human-caused grizzly deaths were reported in 2013 than any other year in the last decade. And unfortunately, the number of bears poached last year was the highest it has been in many years. You can see the numbers here.
It’s not necessarily the case that poaching has increased – it could just be that more cases were reported and investigated this year than in previous years. But these numbers are certainly troubling.
Poaching is illegal under Alberta’s Wildlife Act, and can lead to significant fines (up to $100,000), loss of hunting privileges, and jail time. Cases investigated last year led to at least one instance of the poacher in question being sent to jail.
Please help us help the grizzlies
We are committed to doing everything we can to protect grizzly bears from poaching. That’s why Fish and Wildlife Officers regularly patrol grizzly bear habitats – to deter potential poachers.
But we can’t be everywhere at once. That’s why we need your help to catch poachers and protect the animals they kill.
We know that if someone poaches, at least one other person probably knows about it. If you have information about illegal hunting or fishing, please call the 24-hour Reporter a Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800. If you live, work, or play in bear country, you can help us protect them.