Grizzly Bear Foundation reveals findings 

Philanthropist Michael Audain leads effort to protect bears

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JIM LAWRENCE, KOOTENAY REFLECTIONS, COURTESY GRIZZLY BEAR FOUNDATION - THE THREE BEARS A newly formed Grizzly Bear Foundation has made recommendations to take steps to preserve and protect the province's bear population.
  • photo by Jim Lawrence, Kootenay Reflections, Courtesy Grizzly Bear Foundation
  • THE THREE BEARS A newly formed Grizzly Bear Foundation has made recommendations to take steps to preserve and protect the province's bear population.

A newly formed non-profit Grizzly Bear Foundation — created by philanthropist Michael Audain along with Stuart McLaughlin and Suzanne Veit — has released its recommendations after a lengthy tour of the province to acquire input on how to best manage a species that is in trouble.

The Board of Inquiry's 88-page report contains 19 recommendations directed to all levels of government, as well as program priorities for the Grizzly Bear Foundation. It has been shared with the province, but the Board has not yet met with officials about its most important recommendation — banning the hunting of grizzly bears. About 300 are killed each year.

"We don't think the legal killing of grizzly bears is a good idea in this day and age," said Audain during a press conference Tuesday in Vancouver, which outlined the foundation's findings.

Of the process that spanned several months after the foundation's creation in September, Audain said what most surprised him was the fact that grizzlies can be hunted in provincial parks, and that most of the hunting is done from boats or vehicles.

"The good news is that so many British Columbians care about the bears," said Audain, who added that education and habitat preservation top the list of how to best assure survival.

Said McLaughlin, "The biggest threat to grizzlies is human beings.

"Unless we recognize the needs of the bears and sufficient food sources, we will lose the population."

The release of the foundation's recommendations comes just as the B.C. provincial election kicks into gear, which may prove an optimal time to push for an end to the grizzly hunt. But Audain said this was not on the radar.

"The timing is coincidental," he said.

Upon approval of the report by the Board of Directors, some initiatives will get underway immediately while others will start up as funding becomes available.

Audain made a $500,000 donation last fall to create the foundation, which will solicit funds from the public for future costs.

To read the report go to grizzlybearfoundation.com/pages/reports.

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