The grizzly bear, one of the Ktunaxa Nation’s principal spirits, makes its spiritual home in Jumbo and goes there to heal. In the Ktunaxa creation story, the grizzly bear makes way for the first humans by retreating into the mountains. In return, humans must respect the grizzly by acting as stewards of the land.
The Jumbo Valley is recognized internationally as a vital part of one of North America’s most important wildlife corridors. Grizzlies depend on this connected habitat to maintain healthy populations in the region and beyond. If built, Jumbo Glacier Resort would have fragmented a critical section of this corridor, leading to habitat fragmentation and reduced grizzly populations, locally, regionally and even continentally. International conservation organization, Yellowstone to Yukon, has named this area as a Priority Area. It is one of only two remaining areas in the Yellowstone to Yukon region where bears can move back and forth between Canada and the US, making its protection highly critical.
Results of recent DNA studies show that the current bear levels in the Jumbo Valley are already at a meagre 54% capacity, just above what is legally considered threatened (50%).
Respected leading bear biologist Dr. Michael Proctor says, “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 United States.”
If smaller populations aren’t connected to a central core, they won’t last in the long-term. The Purcell grizzlies are this central core, an “anchor” population providing stability to its neighbors. In other words, this is ground zero. If this habitat is threatened, the echoes will be heard far and wide.
Here is a video made by the Ktunaxa Nation about the importance of the Jumbo area—Qat’muk in Ktunaxa, meaning “Where the Grizzly Bears Go to Dance.”