Once again there is a big push to develop a National Park in the Flathead Valley. The Fernie Rod and Gun Club along with the East Kootenay Wildlife Association and all affiliated clubs are pushing back to save the Flathead. The FRGC has recently created a website to inform the people about the facts in National Parks. Visit www.savetheflathead.com to become more informed.
The people that want a National Park always talk about saving plants, fish and some wildlife but never mention Grizzly Bears. So here are some facts about Grizzly Bears and National Parks.
The Flathead Valley has the densest population of Grizzly Bears in North America. The numbers are even greater than the adjacent area of US Glacier National Park. This high population is significant because hunting is allowed in only the Flathead Valley.
The population increases 6 to 8% annually. The latest population estimate of Grizzly Bears in the Flathead is 178 bears. This is an increase from the last estimate of 153 bears in 2001. This is based on a very precise survey result from the summer of 2007 (Garth Mowat, Senior Wildlife Biologist, BC Ministry of Environment, Kootenay Region).
The highest mortality rate of grizzly bears is in the National Parks. Lake Louise and Banff are North America’s number one and two death zones for Grizzly Bears (Nielsen ET al.2004).
Why? Bears become habituated! Parks Canada agrees with the theory of habituation and bears. The following was taken directly from their website: “If it loses its wildness, it probably won’t survive. Habituated bears or bears that have lost their natural fear of humans-almost inevitably become “problem” bears. They actively seek out places where people congregate because they have learned that where there are people there is also food and garbage to eat. Over time they become increasingly more aggressive in their search for an easy meal. Problem bears usually end up having to be removed or destroyed because of the threat they pose to public safety. It is very difficult, and often impossible to undo habituation. The only real solution is prevention.
So do we want to jeopardize the Grizzly Bear existence in the Flathead Valley or keep it the way it has been for the last 100 years? For more interesting reading on Grizzly Bears check out Dr. Valerius Geist’s Critique of the Suzuki Report on Grizzly Bears on the savetheflathead.com website.
There are many other reasons why there shouldn’t be a National Park in the Flathead. There is No Hunting, No Trapping, No Quading, No Guide-Outfitting and No Logging. Elko Sawmill will close if a National Park is created in the Flathead and hundreds of people will lose their jobs.
There are still things you can do in a National Park but there are many extra fees to do so. Some examples are fishing, camping, day use, fire permits, dump station and backcountry use. All of these have fees attached to them.
So who do we want to manage the wildlife in the Flathead Valley? Local Biologists! These are the people that understand what is happening in the area along with help from the local wildlife associations.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Check out the new website, send a support e-mail, add your name to the list of supporters, put a decal on your vehicle, quad, etc., send a donation and let your voice be heard. We will be out in the communities of the Elk Valley getting the “FLATHEAD FACTS” out to the general public and doing what is right for the Flathead Valley!! Keeping it Wild!!
By The Fernie Rod & Gun Club
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