Grizzlies in the Purcells

The heart of habitat is the heart of the matter

The upper Jumbo Valley is a key part of a wildlife corridor in the wild Purcell Mountains between ranges to the north and the south. Grizzlies depend on this connected habitat to maintain healthy populations in the region. The valley is recognized internationally as a vital part of one of North America’s most important wildlife corridor.

The Jumbo Valley allows wildlife to access the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy from the northeast. If built, the Jumbo Glacier Resort would isolate the wilderness conservancy by blocking access. This would reduce the connectivity of grizzly habitat in the area, and lead to reduced populations, locally and regionally.

Peer reviewed science by renowned bear biologist Michael Proctor shows the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort would fragment grizzly habitat in the Purcells and challenge the long-term success of the Purcell grizzly bear population.

"Keeping this core anchor sub-population healthy, intact and un-fragmented is likely essential to maintaining the long-term self-sustainability of the larger Canadian regional Purcell-Selkirk grizzly as well as maintaining the international grizzly bear distribution extending directly south into the US"

Dr. Michael Proctor, 2010

“The collective professional opinion of the Grizzly Bear Scientific Committee is that the proposed Jumbo Creek development, if approved, will adversely affect the regional population of grizzly bears in the South Purcells. The size and nature of the development will result eventually in the loss of bears locally and will diminish the viability of the regional population of grizzly bears.”

Aalton Harestad, R.P. Bio. Co-chair, BC government’s Grizzly Bear Scientific Advisory Committee

Cutting ties between north and south Purcells = loss of bear population

One hundred years ago, grizzly bears were found up and down the entire western side of the continent. Now, their final stand in Canada’s southern Purcells and the U.S.’s Yaak and Cabinet ranges is a population of between 30 and 40 bears.

These bears, and adjacent populations of bears north of B.C.’s Highway 3, depend on connection to larger populations in the northern Purcells for their survival.

The Jumbo Glacier Resort, with thousands of hectares devoted to human recreation and real estate, and with the increased human access to the central Purcells that will result from it, will cut this connection. As shown repeatedly in Europe and the United States, such fragmentation is the first step towards total disappearance for large carnivores like grizzlies.

Grizzlies or gondolas: Jumbo Wild or Jumbo spoiled??

Won’t grizzlies be taken care of by the resort?

Only if ‘taken care of’ means adversely affected, lost and/or diminished.

The resort proponent may seem to have it all planned out, but grizzly bear experts have reviewed extensive research on the subject and it’s clear the resort will eventually lead to the demise of grizzlies from the resort area, and to reduced population health stretching south through the Purcells all the way into the United States.

The transboundary populations of other large carnivores and ungulates will also suffer due to the severed connectivity along this important wildlife corridor.

Experts talk about Jumbo and grizzlies

The proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort has the potential for substantial and direct cumulative impacts to the Central Purcell Grizzly Bear population.

~ B.C. Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, 2004

. . . there will be a substantial impacts to grizzly bear habitat effectiveness, mortality risk, and most importantly, the fragmentation of grizzly bear distribution. . .

~ Matt Austin, large carnivore specialist, Biodiversity Branch, Government of B.C.

While the developer claims to be committed to ‘no net impact’ to grizzly bears this could only be achieved by reducing or largely eliminating human activities in surrounding watersheds, including, but not limited to, the Glacier, Howser, Toby, Horsethief, and Brewer/Dutch drainages.

~ Stefan Himmer, BSc. RPBio

Based on the information that we have examined and our understanding of bear biology and management, the Scientific Committee questions whether traditional approaches to mitigation will successfully alleviate the negative effects of human activities … there are no examples in North America where grizzly bears have coexisted successfully with large human development over the long term.

~ Aalton Harestad, RP Bio., Co-chair, BC Government’s Grizzly Bear Scientific Advisory Committee

In summary, our results indicate that there are two new pieces of information that should be integrated into the Jumbo resort decision. First, the grizzly bear population in the Central Purcell GBPU is much lower than thought and is relatively close to the “threatened” population threshold. Second, because of the lower population size, the management actions that were available for mitigation of the Jumbo resort will now be required to “recover” these populations without the impacts of the resort.

~ Dr. Michael Proctor, 2007 letter to the Ministry of Environment

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Proctor letter July 2010.pdf206.41 KB