Letter from Marisa Herrera
We should be suspicious of grizzly bear numbers
Published: Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Re: Bear attack prompts conservation officers to issue vigilance
warning, May 8
In the article a spokesman for the provincial Ministry of the
Environment claims that there are 17,000 grizzly bears in British
Columbia. There is no credible basis for this assertion; compounding
matters is that the province uses inflated grizzly population estimates
to establish kill quotas for the grizzly hunt.
>From 1972 to 1979, the province estimated a population of 6,660
grizzlies. The population estimate of 6,660 was nearly doubled in 1990
to 13,160, using a questionable "habitat suitability" model. In 1995,
the province "adjusted" the estimate to a range of 10,000 to 13,000. The
province has arbitrarily upped its population estimate once again,
claiming there are now 17,000 grizzlies.
None of the population estimates crafted by the province has been
vetted by the hallmarks of scientific process, such as peer-reviewed
publication. As one of Canada's leading carnivore biologists, Dr. Brian
Horejsi, has said, there are more than enough reasons to be suspicious
about the B.C. government's grizzly bear numbers.
Reply from Anthony Marr
Referring to the article above, as Chris Genovali of the Raincoast
Conservation Society pointed out, the Grizzly bear population in BC
back in the 1970s was estimated to be about 6,000-7000. The hunting
quota then was about 300. Biologists estimate that for the population to
be stable, an annual mortality rate of no more than 4% resulting from
all causes (hunting, poaching, road kills, habitat loss) should occur.
The BC government was then criticized for overhunting, since the 300
itself constituted 5%, and it did not include the other mortality
factors. Rather than reducing the hunt quota, the BC government
arbitrarily doubled the population estimate to 13,000, and 13,000 had
remained more or less the official figure since then. Now, it's been
pumped up to 17,000 with little scientific justification, but a big
In 1996-1998, BC government biologist
A. Dyonis DeLeeuw wrote a series of three papers, one per year,
criticizing the population estimate and questioning the 13,000 figure,
supporting the continued estimate by independent biologists of only
4,000-7,000. All three papers were confiscated by the government, and
DeLeeuw was put on suspension.
In response to this, I even published
an article in 1999 titled "Gestapo 3, Grizzlies 0".
Anthony Marr, founder
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Return to Letters