Heal Our Planet Earth

Letter from Marisa Herrera

We should be suspicious of grizzly bear numbers

Vancouver Sun
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.

Chris Genovali
Executive director
Raincoast Conservation


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 economic justification.

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)

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