Grizzly Bear Management

Grizzly Bear D.Ohn photo

The Grizzly Bear is perhaps the greatest symbol of the wilderness. Its survival will be the greatest testimony to our environmental commitment. The government of B.C. published the British Columbia Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy, A Future for the Grizzly, with the hope of leaving a permanent legacy for our children.

NOTE: The Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy was written in 1995 and some of the information contained in this document (and others accessed through this website) contain information that is now out-of–date. For the most recent information on grizzly bear population numbers and grizzly bear hunting, please see “Grizzly Bear Hunting – Frequently Asked Questions” (603KB PDF).

Grizzly Bear L.Halverson photo

North Cascades Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan

Recovery planning for Grizzly Bear populations that are at risk is a critical element of the province's efforts to realize the first goal of the Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy (GBCS), "To maintain in perpetuity the diversity and abundance of Grizzly Bears and the ecosystems they depend upon throughout British Columbia." Currently eleven Grizzly Bear populations have been designated as “Threatened” under the GBCS (Map of British Columbia Grizzly Bear Population Units - jpg).

In the absence of successful recovery efforts, these populations are at risk of extirpation, (becoming locally extinct), which would result in further erosion of the range of Grizzly Bears in British Columbia and North America as a whole. Three of these Threatened populations (North Cascades, South Selkirks and Yahk) are shared with the USA where they are also designated as "Threatened" under the federal Endangered Species Act. In these situations, the fourth goal of the GBCS provides important guidance, "To increase international cooperation in management and research of Grizzly Bears."

Due to its small size and isolation from other populations, the recovery of the North Cascades population is the highest conservation priority under the GBCS. As a result, the North Cascades was selected for the first pilot recovery planning process for a Threatened Grizzly Bear population.

A Recovery Plan for Grizzly Bears in the North Cascades of British Columbia (PDF 1.41MB) has been developed. The Recovery Team was not to translocate Grizzly Bears to the North Cascades until further direction was received (see Section 4.3). The recovery plan includes the establishment of a Liaison Committee comprised of representatives from local First Nations and stakeholders that will work with the recovery team during its implementation.

A socioeconomic assessment has been conducted on the recovery plan and is also available.
Socio-Economic Assessment of the Recovery Plan for Grizzly Bears in the North Cascades of British Columbia (PDF 1.03MB)

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Grizzly Bear Population Estimates and Harvest Procedure

2008 Grizzly Bear Population Estimate for British Columbia (PDF 36KB) Population estimates for six Grizzly Bear Population Units have been revised since 2004. The provincial population estimate (updated in 2008) is approximately 16,000 Grizzly Bears. The revised estimates have been applied to current harvest management as per the Ministry’s 2007 Grizzly Bear Harvest Management Procedure (PDF 205KB).

In 2004, the provincial population was estimated at approximately 17,000 Grizzly Bears. The population estimates were revised based in part on the recommendations from the independent Grizzly Bear Science Panel.
British Columbia Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos) Population Estimate 2004 (PDF15KB)

Two major methods were used to derive these revised Grizzly Bear population estimates. The first technique involves the use of a multiple regression model.
Predicting Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos) densities in British Columbia using a multiple regression model (PDF 195KB)

The second technique used to derive Grizzly Bear population estimates is the expert-based approach.
Estimating Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos) Population Size in British Columbia Using an Expert-based Approach (PDF 855KB)

The procedure for determining the allowable harvest levels for Grizzly Bears was also revised in 2004, in part on the recommendations from the independent Grizzly Bear Science Panel. The allowable harvest levels were again revised in 2007 (see above).
2004 Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos) Harvest Management in British Columbia (PDF 193KB)

An analysis of reported human-caused Grizzly Bear mortalities in British Columbia from 1978-2003 has also been completed.
An Analysis of Reported Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos) Mortality Data for British Columbia from 1978-2003 (PDF 276KB)

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Grizzly Bear Scientific Panel

The Grizzly Bear Scientific Panel was asked to conduct a review of the ministry's implementation of the recommendations in their final report (see below) which they have provided. The panel’s letter indicates that the Province has made good progress in implementing their recommendations.

Progress Report (Letter PDF 83KB) from Dr. J. Peek

The Ministry responded to the progress report from the Grizzly Bear Scientific Panel. Subsequent to this correspondence, government has announced several land-use plans that set aside additional grizzly habitat areas. (Letter PDF 65KB)

In March 2003, the Grizzly Bear Scientific Panel submitted its final report including recommendations for improving Grizzly Bear harvest management and conservation in British Columbia - Management of Grizzly Bears in British Columbia: a Review by an Independent Scientific Panel - Final Report (PDF 735KB)

The Grizzly Bear Scientific Panel commissioned Dr. Phillip McLoughlin to conduct Grizzly Bear population modeling to assist them in their review of Grizzly Bear harvest management in British Columbia - Managing Risks of Decline for Hunted Populations of Grizzly Bears Given Uncertainties in Population Parameters (PDF 414KB)

In order to assist them in their review, the Grizzly Bear Scientific Panel was provided with two technical reports prepared by Grizzly Bear scientists within the provincial government. The first was a background report on Grizzly Bear harvest management in British Columbia and the second was a review and critique of the current management system.

Grizzly Bear Harvest Management in British Columbia: Background Report(PDF 6.7MB)

Review of Grizzly Bear Harvest Management in British Columbia
Report PDF 314KB
Map PDF 200KB

A letter from the Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection, to Margo Wallstrom, Commissionaire for the Environment for the European Commission, providing an update on the province's work to implement the Grizzly Bear Scientific Panel's recommendations is also available. (Letter PDF 195KB

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Non-Detriment Finding for the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) for the Export of Grizzly Bears from British Columbia

The Non-Detriment Report was prepared for CITES, based on recent revisions to the provincial Grizzly Bear population estimates and harvest procedures. This replaces the previous document (2002). The report contains a summary table and a radar diagram as visual representation of the issues related to a non-detriment finding under CITES, and states that “the requirements for a non-detriment finding are met with the management regime put into place in British Columbia.” This updated information was also provided to the Scientific Review Group of the European Union.

Non-Detriment Report under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora regarding the Export of Grizzly Bears (Ursus arctos) from British Columbia, Canada (PDF 140KB)

In 2002, a Non-Detriment Finding was prepared for CITES that concluded the export of harvested Grizzly Bears from British Columbia does not represent a conservation threat to the species or its populations. A letter from Matt Austin, Large Carnivore Specialist with the Ecosystems Branch conveying the report to Dave Fraser, the CITES Scientific Authority for British Columbia, and responding to concerns raised by the Scientific Review Group of the European Union, is also available. This information has been forwarded to the European Union by the Canadian Wildlife Service in response to a request from the European Commission.

Letter from M.Austin to D.Fraser January 28, 2002 - PDF 53KB (two attached pdf files: Non-Detriment Report and bibliography)

Non-Detriment Report under the CITES Regarding the Export of Grizzly Bears (Ursus arctos) from British Columbia, Canada January 28, 2002 - PDF 57KB (Appendices, figures and tables are additional attached pdf files of various sizes. To view these files, click on "Appendix#", "Figure#" or Table#" in the text)

B.C. Grizzly Bear Bibliography Letter from D. Fraser to B. von Arx, Canadian Wildlife Service January 29, 2002 - PDF 28KB

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Grizzly Bear Population Inventory and Monitoring Strategy

Since the 1990s, the techniques available for survey and monitoring of grizzly bear populations have seen significant advancements in the ability to gain reliable knowledge about populations at scales most relevant to proactive conservation, mitigation, harvest management, and population recovery.

Much of the research and many of the inventory approaches utilizing these new techniques were developed in B.C., and numerous sampling efforts have now been applied independently throughout the province.

This work has advanced to a stage where grizzly bear conservation and management is best served by a provincial strategy to direct and prioritize sampling efforts. The Grizzly Bear Population Inventory & Monitoring Strategy For British Columbia provides general direction for planning and funding programs of grizzly bear population inventory and monitoring across British Columbia.

The report outlines a decision process for establishing geographic priorities for grizzly bear population inventory and monitoring needs based on objective and transparent criteria. The report and associated priorities will be updated regularly to ensure that the best available information continues to guide future efforts.

As individual (and often independent) sampling efforts continue across the province, consistency and coordination in design, field, and analytical methods may allow us to address research and monitoring objectives not otherwise possible. This includes comparisons among ecological regions and across gradations of natural and human influence at a provincial-scale (including changes in climate, ecosystems, and disturbance), as well as long term trends.

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