A collaboration of environmental groups has launched an effort to enlist public support in documenting sightings of rare grizzly bears in southern B.C.
Volunteers from the Hope Mountain Centre, BC Nature, and Conservation Northwest are distributing informational posters at retail outlets, trailheads, public buildings and other facilities. Reports of sightings will be screened by trained volunteers and forwarded on to B.C. government biologists who will follow up with field verification.
“Grizzly bears are extremely rare in most of southern B.C., particularly in the Cascades and the eastern slopes of the Coast Range,” said Scott Denkers of Hope Mountain Centre.
“We are asking the public to report sightings because every individual grizzly is important to these populations.”
The provincial government lists grizzly bears in the Cascades, Garibaldi/Pitt River, Stein/Nahatlatch Rivers and Squamish/Lillooet populations as “threatened.” Current estimates are that there are fewer than 35 grizzly bears on the east slopes of the B.C. Coast Range and the Cascades area, stretching from Lillooet to I-90 in Washington.
Grizzly bears are slow to reproduce and slow to recover from low numbers. B.C. biologists and their counterparts from the U.S. have worked together for years on grizzly bear science and recovery. The project groups hope to invest citizens in a similar vein through “citizen science” and monitoring.
“Grizzly bears are an important part of the outdoor experience for our members and a key species in BC’s wildlife legacy,” said Bev Ramey of BC Nature.
“We’re happy to be able to play a role in a citizen’s science effort.”
The poster contains a sightings hotline (1-855-GO-GRIZZ or 1-855-464-7499), map of the area of interest, side-by-side comparison of grizzly bears and black bears, and a website where people can find more detailed information.
For more information, go to bearinfo.org/bc-bears.