Canada. It’s a majestic, unruly landscape inhabited by some of the most fascinating species on earth. Our oceans are teaming with orcas, our trees are bursting with birds of prey and our forests are filled with some of the worlds most endangered species. Here’s a fun little fact; The province of British Columbia is home to as many as Half of Canada’s remaining grizzly bear population. Sadly, it is also the last piece of geography in this vast country that has the best chance to maintain a healthy population because of protective provincial laws. Groups like the David Suzuki Foundation have been working tirelessly for decades to ensure the future of the grizzly bear, however, in the last couple of years, there have been a few snags. The first one being that the Canadian government has been using protected land for the purposes of extracting natural resources. And then there is the issue of habitat encroachment. As the population of Canada steadily grows, people and our urban centers become more and more unaffordable, people move further out from the city and closer to nature. This migration into the wilds may seem like a more affordable option, and it’s certainly more peaceful, but it’s one of the main reasons that grizzly bear numbers have been rapidly decreasing.
Scientists from around the world who have come to study British Columbia’s grizzly bear population have all come to the consensus that the grizzly is a ‘keystone’ species. It is an integral part of a greater ecosystem, and rather than just being participants of that biosphere, they are in fact drivers of it. Without them, there is no species that is able to regulate prey species or disperse as plant species as the grizzly. They’re foraging is also essential for keeping the forest floor healthy and resource rich. During salmon fishing season, they bring a healthy supply of salmon carcasses into the forest, which leach into the soil, and provide much needed nitrogen to plants and trees.The natural resource sustainability is something that this part of the world cannot exist without, and the consequences are dire when humans start manipulating the natural order of things.
Because of severely decreased salmon stocks, bears aren’t able to provide themselves with the right amount of nutrients to keep them fed through the winter months, which is why the end up in the living room and kitchens of unsuspecting humans. Grizzlies walk the line of endangerment every day. We have systematically logged, poisoned and damaged their natural habitat. We have depleted their natural food sources and because of global warming, we have biologically altered their well being. At this very moment, over 20% of the grizzly populations in Canada are threatened and in danger of disappearing. And between the years 1977 and 2009, more than 11,000 grizzlies have been killed by humans, 87% of which were hunters that may or may not have had a license at the time.
We have watched species around the world go from endangered to extinct, so you would think that having learned from other society’s mistakes we would have learned the first few thousand times. What is it going to take for us to realize that systematically killing of vital species in the animal kingdom has a trickle down effect? When are satisfied with what we have and where we live? Unfortunately these are questions that can’t be answered by just one individual, but it is certainly something to think about.