Study area

South Rockies Grizzly Bear Project is located within the South East corner of British Columbia, Canada. The SRGBP encompasses an area of 11,737 km2 and contains 2 Grizzly Bear Population Units (GBPU); the Flathead and the South Rockies.

Human development within the study area includes; 3 towns (Fernie, Sparwood, Elkford), several villages, a ski resort (Fernie Alpine Resort), 5 coal mines, and extensive logging. Major highways and railroads intersect the landscape and towards the western boundary there is agricultural development. Within the Flathead GBPU there are no permanent settlements and in the northern portion there is typically low human presence.

Ecosystem

The SRGBP falls within the Crown Continent Ecosystem (CCE), which is internationally recognized for its high levels of biodiversity. The CCE contains the highest diversity of large carnivores in North America and remains a highly important area for fish and wildlife extirpated from other ecosystems on the continent.

The Flathead Valley contains a very diverse array of plants and wildflowers, with over 1000 different species. The Flathead valley is one of the last unsettled river valleys in southern Canada and is one of the only study areas that contain all major bear foods found across the interior continent (McLellan and Hovey, 1995). Of particular importance are the two major berry species that grizzly bears consume in the southern interior of BC; black huckleberry (Vaccinium membranaceum) and Buffaloberry (Shepherdia canadensis) are both present in the study area.

The Flathead forms a key habitat corridor for species moving north and south along the Rocky Mountains and is part of the area included in the Yellowstone to Yukon initiative. Habitat fragmentation is a leading cause of decline among large mammal populations in North America and the world. Yellowstone to Yukon aims to restore connectivity along this 3,200km (2000 mile) stretch of the Rockies. By increasing linkage and promoting connectivity the initiative hopes to safeguard important populations of animals and plants for the future.

– For more information visit the Y2Y website https://y2y.net/

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To find out more information about the CCE and Flathead Valley visit the sites below:

NatGEO- https://crownofthecontinent.natgeotourism.com/guide

WCS – https://programs.wcs.org/northamerica/Wild-Places/Crown-of-the-Continent.aspx

CPAWS – http://cpawsbc.org/campaigns/flathead

Crown Managers Partnership – http://crownmanagers.org/crown-of-the-continent-ecosyst/

Flathead wild – http://www.flathead.ca/