Research calls for big B.C. grizzly corridor

New research led by Dr. Lance Craighead, one of the world’s top grizzly bear authorities, is calling for the creation of a massive wildlife corridor on the east slope of the Rockies.

The proposal would link up parks, designated wilderness areas and special management zones to ensure that key predators don’t get trapped in isolated pockets in an area 1,000 kilometres long and 200 kilometres wide. On its eastern edge are Jasper and Banff National Parks. To the east are Wells Gray and Bowron Lake Provincial Parks. But increasing development is turning those parks into green islands, warned Mr. Craighead, who said satellite technology has proved that big predators need immense, interconnected wilderness areas to survive.


He called for the protection of more than seven million hectares, but said that the area does not have to be locked up in a park.

"I think you can log, I think you can mine, but these activities have to be done in a sensitive way. You can’t clear-cut log . . . you need to log selectively and mimic nature as much as possible."

The long accepted idea that national parks can protect wide ranging species over the long term is now known to be wrong, said Mr. Craighead, who began studying grizzly bears in Montana more than 30 years ago.

The proposal, put forward in a press conference yesterday, seeks to fit large areas together in way that ensures wildlife have corridors through which they can link up. It would connect an area in British Columbia that stretches from the Montana border, north to Prince George, and extends from the Rockies east to the Okanagan.

Without large, linked areas in that broad corridor, Mr. Craighead warned, B.C.’s grizzly bears could face eventual extinction.

Mr. Craighead, executive director of the Craighead Environmental Research Institute, grew up studying with his father and uncle, Frank and John Craighead, who pioneered grizzly bear research in Yellowstone Park in the 1960s. Their work became famous through a series of National Geographic articles.

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