Great Canadian Parks / British Columbia

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The Parks / British Columbia / Khutzeymateen Grizzy Bear Sanctuary



In British Columbia, the population of grizzly bears, Canada's largest carnivore, is as low as 4000 or as high as 13 000. Although they are now extirpated in former habitats such as the Peace Lowland and Georgia Depression and rare in the southern interior, Canada still represents the last country in which bears survive in any significant numbers. Their diet ranges from grass and roots through wild berries, insects, fish and other animals. Coastal bears are great fishers and make salmon the mainstay of their diet. The reproduction rate of a grizzly is one of the slowest of any land animal in North America.


Females are not ready to bear young until they are 5 to 8 years old and males may not mature until age ten. Females average fewer than one cub per year. The cubs, born blind and defenseless while the mother is still hibernating, are about the size of a kitten and they must remain under the mother's protection for two years.


Females require a home range of no less than 27 square kilometres while the male may need as much as 1350 square kilometres of pristine wilderness. Habitats may be mountainous areas, salmon estuaries of BC, or the treeless tundra of the Northwest Territories. Although the natural life span of wild bears can be 25 years or more, the BC government has estimated that each year, 6355 bears are shot and killed before they reach maturity; the outfitters of British Columbia charge from $10 000 per grizzly. Thousands of peaceful human/bear encounters occur every year - in fact only 16 fatal attacks have been recorded in BC over the last 20 years. Although there were more deaths from spider bites, if one is ever in the vicinity of a 700 kilogram bear, standing at 2.6 metres and capable of reaching speeds close to 50 kilometres an hour, there is comfort in knowing that bears instinctively retreat from any human contact.

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