BANFF, Alberta (MTN) -- Grizzly bears have been dying in Banff and six other national parks in the Canadian Rockies more rapidly than scientists believe their populations can sustain.
Parks Canada, which administers the parks, reports that of the 63 grizzly bears which died in the mountain parks between 1990 and 2008, 48 deaths were human-caused and the majority were females. One relatively small area, Lake Louise, accounted for 25 percent of human-caused deaths.
The report also found that the single largest killer of grizzly bears in the parks has been the Canadian Pacific rail, which slices through Banff, and the Canada National Railway, which crosses Jasper.
Of special concern has been Banff, which has a population of 60 grizzlies. The known human-caused mortality of independent female bears has exceeded the 1.2 percent target for the past seven years.
Jim Pissot, executive director of Defenders of Wildlife Canada, described the situation as shameful. "If this rate continues, deaths will exceed births in Banff National Park, and park management appears to be absolutely dumbfounded as to how to respond," he told Rocky Mountain Outlook.
Pissot called for a grizzly bear conservation strategy, and pointed to an approach used at Yellowstone National Park as appropriate. That approach involves gathering specialists, land managers, and adjacent land managers to take steps to reduce the likelihood of exceeding the threshold.