BANFF, AB, Jan. 25, 2017 /CNW/ - Today, Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, and Mr. Glen Wilson, Assistant Vice-President Environmental Risk, Canadian Pacific (CP), announced the completion of the joint Parks Canada-CP Grizzly Bear Research Initiative to help reduce railway related risk to grizzly bears.
In 2010, CP and Parks Canada signed a five-year Joint Action Plan aimed at reducing grizzly bear mortality on the rail line in Banff and Yoho national parks. While a reduction in grizzly mortalities within Banff and Yoho national parks has been observed since the start of this joint research initiative, this research shows there is no simple solution to this issue.
By working collaboratively since the launch of this initiative, Parks Canada, CP, and research teams from the Universities of Alberta and Calgary learned about the complex factors that influence grizzly bear behaviour along the rail line in Banff and Yoho national parks.
Between 2010 and 2015, at any given time, a minimum of 11-13 grizzly bears with GPS radio-collars were being tracked by researchers. The data collected showed specialists where, when and sometimes why bears were using the railway. Based on the recommendations from the research initiative and in keeping with the Canada National Parks Act and Banff and Yoho Park Management Plans, Parks Canada and CP will implement measures on and off the railway to help reduce the risk of grizzly bear train collisions including the use of prescribed fire, development of alternative travel routes for bears, targeted vegetation management, and a pilot exclusion fencing program near railway greasing stations.
The results of the research and subsequent action from CP and Parks Canada will reduce the likelihood of bear-train collisions and further protect this iconic species for present and future generations.
"Our Government is committed to protecting and preserving our national parks and its wildlife. This unique collaboration between Canadian Pacific and Parks Canada allows us to use the best available science to help reduce railway-related risks posed to grizzly bears. These efforts in conservation will insure that bears and people can continue to successfully share the iconic landscape of Banff and Yoho national parks for generations to come."
The Honourable Catherine McKenna Minister of Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
"CP has a proud history of working closely with Parks Canada in protecting our national parks. The results of this five-year partnership will help CP and other stakeholders make decisions that ensure the on-going health of the grizzly bear population while continuing to meet the needs of the North American economy. CP is pleased to have taken a leadership role on this initiative, the results of which will also assist other railways in better managing their own relationships with wildlife."
Glen Wilson, Assistant Vice-President Environmental Risk, CP
- Parks Canada is a recognized world leader in conservation and manages one of the finest and most extensive systems of protected natural and cultural heritage areas in the world.
- In 1883, three CP railway construction workers stumbled across a cave containing hot springs on the eastern slopes of Alberta's Rocky Mountains and from that humble beginning Banff National Park was born.
- Banff and Yoho national parks are Canada's first and second national parks. Both are part of the larger Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site – one of the largest contiguous protected areas in the world.
- Over the past decade, there have been 10 confirmed rail-caused grizzly mortalities in Banff and Yoho national parks. Though we can never fully eliminate the risk of a wildlife mortality along the railway, we believe we can help reduce this risk by piloting targeted science-based mitigations.
- CP's biodiversity strategy is based on prevention, research and remediation.
Parks Canada – Canadian Pacific Grizzly Bear Research Initiative
In October 2010, the Government of Canada and Canadian Pacific (CP) launched a five-year joint grizzly bear research initiative. This included a $1 million grant from CP to support research to improve our understanding of the underlying causes of bear-train collisions. The goals of this research were to understand underlying causes that contribute to grizzly bear risk on the railway and to identify and begin implementing solutions to reduce grizzly bear mortality on the railway. As part of this initiative, a suite of research projects were undertaken in collaboration with the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary to increase our understanding of how grizzly bears use habitat that intersects with the rail line in Banff and Yoho national parks. This multiyear research is now complete. Through this initiative we learned that grizzly bears use the railway for many different reasons. Bear-train collisions pose a complex problem, with no simple solution. However, there are steps we can take to reduce the risk of grizzly bear-train collisions.
Grizzly bears in the mountain national parks are part of a larger grizzly population interconnected through the Rocky Mountains. The grizzly bears in this ecosystem have the lowest recorded reproductive rates in North America. Population trend studies show that grizzly bear populations remain steady in the mountain parks.
Based on the recommendations made by researchers, Parks Canada and CP are taking steps to reduce the risk to grizzly bears along the railway in Banff and Yoho national parks. Though this study is focused on grizzly bears and the rail corridor, it is anticipated these measures will also benefit black bears and other wildlife beyond the rail right-of-way.
Parks Canada will focus on targeted measures that will influence bear behaviour off the rail line to reduce the overall risk of grizzly bear-train collisions.
These targeted measures include:
- Developing and improving wildlife travel routes and trails adjacent to key areas that have a high risk for grizzly bear-train collisions.
- Prescribed fires and forest thinning to enhance grizzly bear habitat away from the railway.
- Applying new knowledge and technology developed through this research to improve wildlife management practices in the mountain national parks. For example, electrified mats have been installed and are being piloted in conjunction with Texas Gates in several road openings to existing highway fencing in Kootenay National Park.
CP will focus on mitigation efforts within its existing right-of-way, including:
- Investing in a targeted, multi-year vegetation management program throughout Banff and Yoho national parks that will decrease attractant vegetation and open escape paths in confined areas.
- A pilot exclusion fencing and electromat program around railroad greasers aimed at keeping bears away from this potential attractant.
Together we are optimistic that these targeted science-based mitigations on and off the railway will help to reduce the risk to grizzly bears along the railway in Banff and Yoho national parks.
SOURCE Parks Canada
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