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Province extends road closure through grizzly territory near Lillooet

"Roads are associated with increased [g]rizzly bear mortality risk, as they can put bears and humans into closer proximity." 
The British Columbia government is taking an additional step to protect a vulnerable grizzly bear population near Lillooet this summer. Texas Creek Road will remain closed to motor vehicle traffic from now until Nov. 30 of this year, a spokesperson for B.C.'s Ministry of Forests advised on Thursday, May 19. The summer closure went into effect on April 15.
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The move comes following a regulation change made to B.C.'s Wildlife Act last August, which called for the expansion of an existing spring motor vehicle closure along Texas Creek Road to apply to summer and fall. Texas Creek Road, which runs parallel to the Fraser River south of Lillooet and is accessed from the Duffey Lake Road portion of Highway 99 about 130 kilometres northeast of Whistler, lies within an important spring, summer and fall habitat for the Stein-Nahatlatch (SN) grizzly bear population.
According to the spokesperson, this population is considered an "extreme conservation concern"—the highest possible rating—due in part to its estimated population of fewer than 20 animals, including just five breeding females. The Stein-Nahatlatch group is also physically isolated from other B.C. grizzly populations as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation.However, about half of of "documented female SN bear mortalities (three out of six) have been attributed to illegal killing," the spokesperson explained in an email. "Roads are associated with increased [g]rizzly bear mortality risk, as they can put bears and humans into closer proximity." Texas Creek Road and the Texas watershed lies in the traditional area of responsibility of the Sekw’el’was Band, a St’át’imc community within the unceded St’át’imc territory. Grizzly bears play an integral role in the community's traditional laws and stewardship teachings. The Wildlife Act regulation change affecting Texas Creek Road is supported by the 2011 St’át’imc Chiefs Council Resolution for Recovery of Grizzly bear populations within St’át’imc territory, according to the province.

The extension of the existing motor vehicle closure will still allow vehicle access to Texas Creek Road for commercial activities taking place between July 1 and Nov. 30, 2022.

Wildlife Act authorization holders and guide outfitters can apply for an access permit for access through Front Counter BC, while other users requiring access to the area are ​advised to contact Chief Michelle Edwards of Sekw’el’was at 1-250-256-4136. All applications will be reviewed by Edwards and Sekw’el’was Council to ensure any work activities align with the Band's grizzly bear management objectives.