A grizzly bear attempts to cross the highway. Photo Submitted

Elk Valley wildlife conservation projects receive funding

The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation announced $9.2 million in funding across the province

The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) has announced $9.2 million in funding for wildlife, fish, and habitat conservation projects across British Columbia this year.

Through cooperation with other conservation and government groups, there are a number of projects in the Kootenay region receiving funding. For example, HCTF is supporting the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operation and Rural Development’s study of grizzly bear mortality in the Kootenays. The project uses a broad range of research to recommend options for solving grizzly conservation concerns in a region with one of the highest rates of human caused grizzly bear mortality in the province.

“Our project blends scientific rigour and a large group of collaborators to achieve on the ground conservation for grizzly bears and the people who coexist with them,” said project lead Clayton Lamb.

Lamb is actively working with researchers and local authorities in the Elk Valley to track bear populations and implement measure to protect their safety. Through funding provided in part by the HCTF, the project has successfully monitored over 50 grizzly bears across southern British Columbia.

This particular project has seen a number of concrete actions taken to protect bears and their habitat in the Elk Valley. Uncontrolled roadkill dumping sites near communities where bears were feeding were removed, ground has been broken on a wildlife underpass along Highway 3 just outside of Fernie and resource road densities throughout the region have been reduced.

In a statement from the HCTF, they said “this project is an excellent example of how conservationists across the province are taking in depth scientific research and applying it to practical conversation solutions to the benefit of both B.C.’s wildlife and the human populations that coexist with them.”

Three other projects in the Kootenay region have also been approved for funding, including $68,000 towards invasive plant management and forage improvement on winter ranges for bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer and white tailed deer.

Approximately $123,000 will go towards habitat enhancement and connectivity improvement for the Bull River bighorn sheep population and the Kootenay Region River Guardian Program will see a further $147,500 in support.

Speaking to the millions of dollars in funding across the province, Dan Buffet, CEO of HCTF said that it is no small feat.

“It reflects a diversity of funding from our core contributors [hunters, anglers, trappers and guides], court awards, provincial government contributions and endowments, and our partners such as the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC).”

Steve Kozuki is the executive director of FESBC and said that he is “thrilled to partner with the trusted and respected HCTF to improve wildlife habitat.”

For a full list of the 2020-2021 approved projects or to see a map of which projects are ongoing in your area, visit HCTF.ca


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