Growing problem in British Columbia and Alberta? Winter logging destroying grizzly dens with bears and cubs inside

Is this a new problem or a sudden realization of an old one?

Whether it is or not, this issue is heating up in British Columbia and Alberta  The adult grizzlies are more likely to escape the wintertime dozers and other heavy equipment than the cubs, but the mortality rate of even adults is substantial.  Many cubs are burned in the flames of slash pile fires, piles of broken logs and branches to which they flee after having their dens destroyed.

Here is a story from Alberta about bears and wintertime logging in a supposedly somewhat protected “special management area” — the Castle Crown. This is south of Banff National Park.

Liberal MLA prepared to be arrested over protecting grizzlies in Castle logging area. Laurie Blakeman slams Tories for issuing permit. By Darcy Henton. Calgary Herald.  

*A note to Americans. “Tories” are the Conservative Party nickname.

Impact of logging no picnic for bears near Prince George, B.C. By Chelsea Blazer. The Globe and Mail.



, , ,



  1. Paul Avatar

    Why can’t we have politicians willing to take a stand like Laurie Blakeman?

  2. Daniel Berg Avatar
    Daniel Berg

    94% of the land in British Columbia is provincial crown land. 1% is federal crown land, and only 5% is private. 60% of the land is public in Alberta.

    I’m not yet very familiar with the logging practices in BC & AB, but from what I have read timber cutters and sawmills still ride roughshod over anyone in their way up there. It also sounds like many in the ministries of forests still hold the belief that a healthy forest is an intensively logged forest. It amazes me that such a narrow viewpoint applied as general policy is still so well-entrenched. If British Columbia and Alberta were truly interested in avoiding logging in portions of habitat for threatened species, they would have already done if for the woodland caribou. I’m no surveyor, but from an airplane a lot of the southern portions of the BC Selkirks look pretty cut-up.

    It’s easy to see that we still use lumber and there is going to be continued logging, but why must we fight these battles over and over again about protecting almost all remaining old growth and a susbstantial amount of late-successional forest on public/crown lands? It’s quite obvious that un-molested forest habitat is important to a number of species. Down here in Oregon and Washington, just take a Horizon flight from Seattle to Bend and tell me there aren’t enough f**king tree farms.

  3. aves Avatar

    This is cleary a long-standing problem that harms alot more wildlife than bears. And it’s not just from logging. Every time land is cleared for roads, border fences, or development wild animals get killed. It’s good to see Canadians raise hell about it but we all need to do more of that too.

  4. Headwaters Avatar

    This is actually an example of lousy journalism. The grizzly dens in the Castle are hypothetical. The cubs in BC were black bears.
    There may well be a problem, but the reporter and editor offered no evidence either way. In my experience most of the Castle area grizzlies den on lee slopes above the operability line for the loggers.
    There is no way they should be logging in the Castle. But arguments against it need to be intellectually honest, and newspaper writers need to be less lazy and more accurate in their reporting.

  5. Barrie K. Gilbert PhD Avatar
    Barrie K. Gilbert PhD

    Headwaters says: “grizzly dens in Castle are hypothetical”. Sorry, man, I’ve got pictures of griz den, griz hair and scats from the Castle. At an Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board hearing in Pincher Creek a year ago I learned that there were at least 6 collared grizzlies in one small area of the Castle. And in one evening I photographed 5 fresh griz turds on the road to Shell Oil’s well (Waterton 68).
    I agree there should be no logging in the Castle.
    Barrie G.

  6. Headwaters Avatar

    I’m not surprised by what you say, Barrie. And you’re a very credible source. My beef was with the reporter and editor whose lazy journalism briefly stirs up the uninformed but otherwise undermines the credibility of those with strong and valid concerns about what is being done to the Castle. The reason the Castle is still unprotected is that the other side fights dirty. I’ve been there too often.
    So it isn’t helpful for a newspaper with no skin in the game but just trying to check off its weekly quota of environmental story to arm the loggers and local MLA with something that is so obviously more hyperventilation than fact.
    I wish they’d called you and done a real bit of reportage.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan