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July 23, 2014

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Grizzlies expand range to central coast islands

Grizzly bears are moving onto islands along the central BC coast, according to new research by Christina Service, a University of Victoria PhD candidate in geography. Collaborating with other wildlife scientists from UVic, the Kitasoo/Xais-xais-operated Spirit Bear Research Foundation, and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Service found evidence of grizzly bears on 10 central coast islands—affirming local Indigenous knowledge that the bears are on the move.

“Remote cameras located at non-invasive hair snag sites detected a range of individual grizzly bears, including mothers and cubs,” said Service. “The snagged hair provided DNA material that revealed species, gender and individual identity of bears.”

Through two years of interview work with Kitasoo/Xais-xais and Heiltsuk Nations who live in the area, map work and the collection of scientific data, the research team documented an increase in sightings of island bears over the past three decades. They say the presence of grizzlies on islands could trigger new and legally enforceable habitat protection. The grizzly bears that have currently migrated to islands are not protected because they have moved outside the conservation boundary recognized by the Province of British Columbia.

The research was published today by PLOS ONE: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0101595

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  Media Contacts:

Christina Service at 250-580-7302 or christina.service@gmail.com
Anne MacLaurin (Social Sciences Communications) at 250-217-4259 or sosccomm@uvic.ca

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