The first part of this campaign involves raising awareness for this issue across Canada by collaborating with the Grizzly Bear Foundation to create a 30-minute documentary which brings together the most recent science-based research with stunning visual footage and photographs to tell the story of the past, present, and future of grizzly bear recovery in Alberta. The film, which you can view above, explores hunting, habitat loss, and coexistence issues, delving into the latest population estimates and the very real threat of a grizzly bear trophy hunt returning to the province.
Alberta’s grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) were listed as Threatened under the Alberta Wildlife Act in 2010; this listing formalized the status that was long recognized and recommended by several biologists. A draft grizzly bear recovery plan was completed in 2005, sport hunting of grizzly bears was discontinued in 2006, and the recovery plan was accepted by the Minister of Sustainable Resource Development in 2008.
The 2008 Alberta Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan emphasized the need to scientifically determine grizzly bear population size in seven defined Bear Management Areas (BMAs) because it was difficult to accurately assess the status of grizzly bears, identify recovery targets, or define priority areas without a solid understanding of population size. With a population estimate still well below the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s criteria for threatened status, Alberta’s grizzlies remain a species at risk.
In 2020, a revised Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan was put into place. Although the plan’s recommendations are well founded in current grizzly bear biology and habitat science, there are gaps present that need to be addressed.
For instance, the plan includes no population recovery goals for the BMAs or Alberta as a whole. More so, the plan does not address strategies to manage bears outside of "recovery zones" nor does it include social science, Indigenous Knowledge, and associated data that is required to understand the cultural and social implications of grizzly bear recovery more accurately.
The combined impacts of habitat loss, food security and coexistence challenges continue to put enormous pressure on recovering grizzly bear populations. In the midst of climate and biodiversity crises, we cannot afford to fall behind on grizzly bear recovery.
Through storytelling and advocacy, we aim to raise public awareness on the status of grizzlies in Alberta and influence the provincial government to implement their Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan and commit to a continued ban on grizzly bear hunting in the province.
You can take action by writing a letter to your Alberta MLA and the Alberta Minister of Environment and Parks using this simple form letter/email, by donating to EXPOSED, or by sharing our social media content with your friends and family.
A limited-edition graphic t-shirt to run alongside our Alberta grizzlies campaign. Show your support of Alberta grizzlies every day and help fund our efforts!
Grizzly bears once roamed widely across Alberta and eastward through the plains of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Centuries of habitat loss and persecution by European settlers led to the dramatic decline in the size and distribution of grizzly bear populations across North America. Today, grizzly bears have primarily been extirpated from the prairies, and in Alberta are found solely in the Rocky Mountain and Foothills regions at the province’s western fringe.
With the release of new research in 2020, Alberta now has science-based population estimates for all 7 of the province’s bear management units. The data shows that Alberta’s grizzly bear population has increased from approximately 700 in 2010 to somewhere between 856 and 973 bears today.
This success has resulted from decades of conservation efforts, most notably the government’s decision to end the licensed grizzly bear hunt in 2006. But the road to recovery is far from over and it is plausible that the government may use this data to justify bringing back the hunt.
Grizzly bears are iconic symbols of the wild. They represent an important part of the cultural identity of Albertans. As a conservation umbrella species, their protection is critical to maintaining the biodiversity of our ecosystems across the wide landscapes they roam.
Please join us as we work to recover Alberta's grizzlies together.
The Grizzly Bear hunt ended in Alberta in 2006.
In Alberta, most known grizzly bear mortalities are caused by humans.
Grizzly bears in Alberta are divided into 7 Bear Management Areas (BMAs).
The latest research estimates that there are somewhere between 856 and 973 bears in Alberta.
Grizzly Bears were classified as a Threatened Species in Alberta in 2010 under the provincial Wildlife Act.
In 2018, there were 23 recorded grizzly bear mortalities. At least 20 of those deaths were attributable to human causes.
The primary sources of human caused mortality in Alberta are poaching, vehicle collisions, self-defense kills, and black bear hunters misidentifying bears.
From 2009-2018, a total of 227 grizzly bear mortalities were recorded. That’s about 23 deaths per year. Of those 227, 208 (92%) are known to be human caused.
In 2012, the western population (including Alberta’s grizzlies) was federally designated as a Species of Special Concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).
The first draft of a 5 year Recovery Plan was completed in 2008, and was accepted by the Minister for implementation. In 2010, an updated status assessment was completed, ultimately resulting in the formal designation of ‘Threatened’ for the species. Alberta’s Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan was updated in 2016, and again in 2020.
National Status: In 2018 the western population of grizzly bears was designated as a species of Special Concern under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.
A later revision to the Recovery Plan (dated July 1, 2020) was released in early 2021 but remains substantially the same as the 2016 draft.
New research data released in March 2021 showing an increase in Alberta's grizzly populations are cause for hope, but the road to recovery is far from over.
For the “Enhancing grizzly bear management programs through the inclusion of cultural monitoring and traditional ecological knowledge.”