First Nations & Conservation Officers come together to save a young grizzly bear during Coronavirus lockdown
VANCOUVER, April 13, 2020 –– “ With the world focussed on the Coronavirus lockdown much of our lives have come to a standstill but for those working to protect grizzly bears the conservation work must continue.
A young male grizzly bear, who had an encounter with residents of Hanson Island in British Columbia's the Broughton Archipelago, has been safely relocated to a remote mainland habitat thanks to the efforts of First Nations, the Minister of Environment, the Conservation Officer Service, local ecotourism operators, and the Grizzly Bear Foundation.
Across North America, grizzly bears are waking up from hibernation in search of food to stem the weight loss they experience while denning. This time of year, bears go in search of sedge grass, mussels, and clams to fill their bellies. However, grizzly's incredible sense of smell, up to 100 times stronger than a human, can take them a considerable distance in search of food. This young grizzly, known as Mali, named for one of the first Mamalilikulla, ancestors Malilakala, had to make a big swim to reach Hanson Island.
“We were very fortunate to achieve a positive outcome in what was quickly becoming a high risk scenario for this grizzly bear and individuals in the area. In all cases it is extremely important that we all do our part to remove attractants so that wildlife can stay wild” said Chief Conservation Officer, Doug Forsdick. “Grizzly bear encounters in the Broughton Archipelago have increased in recent years as grizzlies go in search of food and new home ranges.”
"This situation could have easily ended up with the death of this grizzly bear if it weren't for the leadership of this group and the extraordinary effort of the Conservation Officers on site," said Indigenous Guardian Jake Smith and Tim McGrady of Farewell Harbour Lodge, who was on-site supporting the conservation officers efforts to relocate Mali safely.
"The killing of grizzly bears in our traditional territory is not an option," said Chief Richard Sumner of the Mamalilikulla Nation. "The experience was highly emotional and, in the end, very satisfying for our nation and me."
“Relocating this grizzly bear is a demonstration of the power of partnership and the desire for reconciliation. Working together with Indigenous nations and local residents we have created an opportunity for this bear, and this iconic species, to continue to thrive in a wilderness habitat,” said Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman. “Listening and following the teachings of the Kwikwasutinuxw, Haxwa’mis and Mamalilikulla Nations, and providing the right resources to support wildlife relocation, teaches us that we all have a part to play in making greater efforts to respect wildlife and conserve the habitat that supports them.”
"Grizzly bears are important to our culture and the economics of the bear-viewing industry. We're looking to build collaborative decision making with the BC Government on grizzly bear conservation in our territory," said Mike Willie of Sea Wolf Adventures and a Hereditary Chief of the Kwikwasutinuxw Nation
"The story of Mali is greater than just one bear. Grizzly Bears are an essential keystone species, providing a conservation umbrella around other species and ecosystems. When we protect grizzly bears, we protect so much more." said Nicholas Scapillati, Executive Director of the Grizzly Bear Foundation.
In November of last year, the Grizzly Bear Foundation hosted an Indigenous Roundtable on Grizzly Bear Conservation and Bear-Viewing Ecotourism bringing together First Nations and Indigenous ecotourism companies from across BC and the Yukon to discuss how First Nations could work collaboratively. The collaboration to relocate Mali is an important step in furthering conversations with the provincial government to ensure grizzly bear encounters like this one have a positive outcome for grizzlies and the bear-viewing industry.
About Grizzly Bear Foundation
Grizzly Bear Foundation, is Canada’s only charity solely dedicated to the long term welfare of grizzly bears. It supports the conservation of grizzlies through research and public education. www.grizzlybearfoundation.com
For more information or comment please contact:
Nicholas Scapillati, Executive Director
Grizzly Bear Foundation 604.551.2489
Sea Wolf Adventures and Hereditary Chief of the Kwikwasutinuxw Nation
Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy
Media Relations 250.953-3834
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