The Canadian National Parks and Grizzly Bear Ecosystems: The Need for Interagency Management (1995)

Herrero, Stephen. 1995. The Canadian National Parks and grizzly bear ecosystems: The need for interagency management. Int. Conf. Bear Res. and Manage. 9(1):7-21.

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Canada’s current grizzly/brown bear (Ursus arctos) population estimate is between 22,000 and 28,000. The grizzlies’ range can be subdivided into 14 biophysically based zones. Banci (1991) classified the grizzly as extinct in 2, threatened in 1, vulnerable in 7, and secure in 4. This documents the need for future-oriented, proactive planning to protect grizzly bear populations in the face of development. Through a survey, all provinces, territories and national parks having grizzly bears were contacted and their opinions were sought regarding grizzly bear status, threats and the role of reserves for long-term conservation of viable grizzly bear populations. All respondents believed that the concept of a strictly protected core area and a surrounding region managed to allow limited, carefully regulated resource development, but planned to minimally impact grizzly bears, would be an important component of long-term grizzly bear conservation. I concluded that the creation of a new system of such reserves for grizzly bears and other highly mobile species was unlikely. I suggest that the already established 10 national parks of Canada that have grizzly bears could form at least major parts of the strictly protected areas. At least enough land surrounding each park would need to be managed to protect grizzly bear habitat and populations so as to give a high probability of population viability. Canadian national parks by themselves only protect approximately 3.4-4.4% of Canada’s grizzly bears so interagency cooperation would be necessary to protect viable populations in larger grizzly bear ecosystems. The need for and progress towards interagency management is discussed with respect to each Canadian national park having grizzly bears. Means of forming interagency management teams are identified. The legislative, policy, and managerial ability of the Canadian national parks to protect grizzly bear habitat and populations is discussed and found to be good enough to allow national parks to function as protected cores. Cooperation from territories and provinces in the management of grizzly ecosystems will depend on public support.

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