Alpine Club of Canada

Summer2016Gazette

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negative interactions such as habituation (familiarization) to humans and their food, which often leads to bear removal and mortality. In national park manage‑ ment, maintaining habitat security for grizzly bears is an indicator of overall ecological integrity (ecosystem health), and, as such, is legally mandated accord‑ ing to the Canada National Parks Act. Now extirpated (locally extinct) from most of North America, grizzly bears were at one time found in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and all the way down to Mexico. Today in Canada, they are only found in western Alberta, the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and British Columbia. Grizzly bears are known as a keystone species, meaning they are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem. ey help disperse seeds, regulate prey and are nature's land‑ scapers, maintaining plant and soil health. Protecting grizzly bears actually helps to protect the health of the landscape. Unfortunately, grizzly bears have one of the lowest reproduction rates of North American wildlife. Females have their first cubs between five and eight years of age, and on average cubs stay with their moms for at least three years. at means females only have cubs every four to five years. e lifespan of a bear should be about 25 years, however most die human‑ caused deaths much younger. Federally, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada lists grizzly bears as a species of Special Concern due to the species' sensitivity to human activities or natural events. In Alberta, grizzly bears are listed as reatened under provincial legislation, while in British Columbia, grizzlies are blue‑listed (on the Watch List). According to Parks Canada's website, current population estimates for grizzly bears in Rocky Mountain national parks are: Banff – 65; Jasper – 109; Yoho – 11 to 15; Kootenay – 9 to 16. Securing habitat and protecting this species in our most protected areas, our national parks, is therefore critical. Protecting grizzly bears and ecosystem health is not only the responsibility of Parks Canada as the managers of these regions, it is also the responsibility of park operators such as the ACC to strictly Guy Hut, accomplished in the summer and fall of 2015, had to carefully mitigate for wildlife disturbance. During construc‑ tion workers had their tents surrounded by electric fencing due to high grizzly bear activity in the area. With a slightly wetter climate than much of the Rockies, Yoho provides a lush habitat for wildlife. Decreasing backcountry access to humans in summer months in this region is critical to help sensitive species such as grizzly bears. Grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) are considered omnivores, eating both plants and meat (which constitutes only 15 per cent of their diet). Some of their favourite foods in the Rocky Mountain parks include hedysarum roots, buffaloberry and ground squirrels. Bears are solitary animals that require good habitat with vast undis‑ turbed places to roam. For males in the Central Rockies that's 1,000 to 2,000 square kilometres; for females 200 to 550 square kilometres. Good habitat for a grizzly bear means having an adequate supply of food, access to shelter, places to den, a selection of mates and being free from human dis‑ turbance. Bears need an environment that is predictable, especially females with cubs. Safeguarding good habitat where bears don't encounter people helps minimize stress and trouble for bears and people. It helps eliminate potential Winter only Guy Hut use protects grizzlies by anne-Marie syslak P erched on a col north of Yoho Peak overlooking the des Poilus Glacier in British Columbia's Yoho National Park is the remote Louise and Richard Guy Hut, e Alpine Club of Canada's newest hut on the classic ski traverse that crosses the Wapta and Waputik Icefields. Perched at 2,600 metres near Mount des Poilus, the hut's location closes the link on the traverse between Bow Hut in the north, and Stanley Mitchell Hut in the south. Situated midway on the Bow‑Yoho traverse, the new hut makes the trip safer and more comfortable for backcountry skiers. As the snow melts and the lush Yoho Valley comes to life however, outdoor enthusiasts have to change their habitat use for the summer. e ACC does not accept summer bookings of this hut because the route to reach it cuts through critical grizzly bear habitat. In fact, Parks Canada's approval of the hut was made on the strict condition that it was for winter use only. e hut is closed from May 1 through November 30 each year. e environmental assessment for the project indicated that hut operations must be seasonally restricted to ensure backcountry human activity in Yoho is limited to when most wildlife species are hibernating and human disturbance is minimal. Efficient construction of the

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